The event, which drew over a thousand professionals from across the industry, highlighted a number of key factors that will underpin the future success of manufacturing.
One of the key discussion points throughout the week was machine connectivity, or IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). While not a new concept, manufacturer engagement with the technology is increasing. This can be attributed to a number of factors, not least the improvements in IIoT that ensure it is both more sophisticated and user-friendly for businesses.
Tom Bouchier, Managing Director at FANUC UK, comments: “IIoT has been around for a number of years, and we are now at a stage where the technology is powerful enough to make a real difference to operations, while at the same time being simple enough to use effectively. There is also an element of Covid and its associated challenges highlighting the power of intelligent use of data in optimising processes and improving overall efficiency.
“It’s all about getting the most out of your factory, whether it is floor space and equipment or ensuring your workforce is as productive as possible. This means automating labour-intensive, repetitive processes and getting feedback from your machines to develop efficient, coherent processes. That’s where IIoT has a major role to play.”
The other key topic to emerge from the Open House was the potential opportunities for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). Conversations surrounding the barriers to automation repeatedly revealed that smaller manufacturing businesses stood to gain the most from implementing it into their production lines. The compact nature of the latest automation technology, combined with the availability of turnkey systems, opens it up to operations of all sizes, regardless of how automation-literate they may be.
There is also the macro-trend of customisation – whereby manufacturers are increasingly required to be flexible in their output in order to meet demands for bespoke / low-volume production runs. This positions SMEs at the heart of industry growth and illustrates the importance of ensuring funding is available for smaller businesses to realise their potential.
Tom continues: “UK manufacturing has always been strong in delivering high-quality outputs at scale. This is something that will continue long into the future, and we’ve already touched upon the potential benefits these types of businesses will see through IIoT.
“However, it also became clear over the course of our Open House that there is massive room for growth amongst SMEs. The productivity gains associated with the implementation of automation – whether it’s an entire process or a more piecemeal approach – will significantly boost the outputs of a smaller manufacturing business.
“It was really interesting to note that visitors to our event were further along their automation journey than they were at our last Open House two years ago. I think UK manufacturing has started to accept that it is key to remaining competitive on the global stage, which makes it an exciting time for the industry.”
For more information, please visit https://www.fanuc.eu/uk/en.