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Manufacturing in 2020, predictions from Schneider Electric

26 November 2019

"With the UK manufacturing industry under increasing pressure to deliver more at a lower cost, the coming years will see manufacturers take steps to create a completely ‘smart’ factory floor,” says Martin Walder, VP Industrial Automation at Schneider Electric.

“Thanks to recent advancements in technologies, most notably with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), using smart technology is feasible for a greater number of manufacturers. However, a truly ‘smart factory’ is one that is completely digitised with a high level of automation and connectivity with its whole supply chain.

“We are seeing a significant increase in the demands for robots, and indeed cobots, as a result of rising wages and skill shortages. As automation developers introduce better sensing/vision capabilities, ever more complex applications can be tackled. More responsive safety systems will also allow cobots to work alongside humans with greater flexibility, improving productivity, hygiene and safety

“With this change comes an additional benefit. For a skills-poor industry struggling to attract engineering expertise, the robotics and cobotics movement, with the improved productivity it generates, will create more opportunities for skilled workers to work on more value-add activities.

“For the ‘robotics and cobotics’ movement to thrive, we must educate our workforce on its benefits and capabilities. With greater understanding, will come greater implementation and proficiency. Over the next ten years, we expect to see it proliferate and manufacturers to reap the benefits of greater efficiency, profitability and performance. At the same time, any manufacturing operations that do not adopt digital technologies will get marginalised – if not lost. Ultimately, legacy/non-connected technologies do not fit into the digital ecosystem, where analysis and optimisation are fundamental.

“We are set to see more manufacturers recognise the true benefits of smart manufacturing. In the meantime, increased data insights and connectivity will lay solid foundations for new, and more effective business models.”

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