The use of robots and automation is growing but the UK lags behind other countries. What is needed is leadership to define a vision for manufacturing in the future, says Mike Wilson.
The first industrial robot was applied to a manufacturing operation in 1961 by General Motors. Since then the number of robots in use and the range of applications has grown almost every year, with the initial impetus provided by the automotive industry. More recently, growth has accelerated, as a wide range of applications is being addressed across all industry sectors. We are fast approaching a point where the use of robots could make a step change, heralding a new era of robots and workers cooperating to achieve new levels of productivity. The term “robot” originates from the play “Rossum’s Universal Robots”, written by the Czech playwright Karel Capek in 1920. It is derived from the Czech word “robota” meaning “sla