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Robots could be the answer for Yorkshire manufacturing’s post-Brexit skills shortage


The Robots have arrived! But, are they actually helping to improve the poor UK productivity figures, and what are the employment and cultural effects of such change?

Following our popular automation seminar in 2015 which promised ‘The robots are coming’, we’re hosting a follow-up event on 27th March.

We’ll have a host of experts on hand to explain how advances in robotics and artificial intelligence are helping businesses to stay ahead not only in the UK, but around the world – we’ll even have some industrial robots in action from robotics company, Active8 Robots!  There’s no doubt that over the last few years there’s been an upsurge in interest in automation, largely driven by reducing price points which are making payback quicker and, therefore, making investment more viable.  This has, perhaps, been further accelerated by the approach of Brexit and the impact it is likely to have on sourcing labour.  What’s more, given the repetitive, mundane nature of many tasks, there’s also a view that these may be better performed by robots that can work around the clock. Would this enable people to move up the chain in terms of skills, or will it result in an increase in unemployment?

Our first speaker John Pendleton, managing director of Rosti Automotive and chair of Made in Yorkshire, will highlight the benefits of the company’s significant investment in robotics.  For a business like Rosti Automotive, which manufactures components for the motor industry, a shortage of labour previously sourced from Europe, is a very real concern.  Consequently, the company, which has a manufacturing base in Pickering, has made a massive investment in the latest high technology plant and equipment, the benefits of which, John will outline.

As chair of Made in Yorkshire, John is well aware of the need for manufacturing businesses to come together and collaborate in order to foster innovation and join forces to take their products and services overseas.  Too often, SMEs can feel isolated, but with so much expertise in the region, it’s vital that businesses share their experiences and organisations like Made in Yorkshire give them the platform and opportunity to learn from one another.

We will also hear from Adam Hurst of Premier Farnell who will discuss the increasing number of applications for Raspberry Pi in the manufacturing sector as well as the importance of its use in education in engaging students, at an early stage, in programming and electronics.  Getting young people interested in going into manufacturing and ensuring that they can gain the practical skills the sector needs is vital to keeping Yorkshire at the forefront of manufacturing excellence.

Mike Hodge, managing director of Cimlogic, will share how he helps world class manufacturers improve productivity through automation, analysing production data, measuring OEE or by achieving Operational Excellence. 

Shaun Bedford, head of operations at Holmesterne, one of the leading food businesses in North Yorkshire, will explain how it has used automation to enhance productivity.  

Finally, Deborah Warren, senior associate in Clarion’s employment team, will discuss the employment dynamics of mixing robots and people!

Our business development director Steve Crow concludes: “With Brexit likely to exacerbate the shortage of skills in the manufacturing sector, we need to overcome the outdated, negative views about robots ‘taking’ jobs.  Instead, we should embrace the latest technology as a way of enabling businesses to access the skills they need to enable manufacturing to continue to thrive in Yorkshire and, indeed, to cost-effectively market British products worldwide.

“At Clarion, we have a real passion for working with manufacturing businesses in Yorkshire.  We believe that in order to keep our regional competitive advantage, businesses must be forward-thinking, looking overseas and focussing on innovation as well as actively seeking ways of increasing productivity.  At a time when exchange rates are in our favour, for many manufacturers it is more important than ever for Yorkshire businesses to seize the opportunity to invest in robotics and AI to support the strength and growth of the sector post-Brexit.”

For more information and to register for our 'Robots: Friends or Foe?' seminar please click here.


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