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North West looking to inspire manufacturers to adopt robotics

A robotics showcase has been installed in Lancashire to help the region’s manufacturers unlock their potential, following findings that the UK is falling behind the competition on adopting industrial robots.

A new virtual reality (VR) robotics showcase at AMRC North West in Samlesbury is designed to showcase the potential of cutting-edge, accessible robotics technology to inspire new approaches to manufacturing.

The installation includes a ‘RoboKit’ and ‘SenseKit’ modules developed by Extend Robotics, a company which aims to develop human-robot interface software for non-robotic experts. The VR technology enables an existing robotic arm at AMRC North West to be remote operated from anywhere in the world.

The showcase is just the latest of several initiatives to increase engagement with industrial robots in the North West. In 2022, the University of Salford opened its £16 million North of England Robotics Innovation Centre (NERIC), which will serve as a hub for supporting SMEs to develop and implement robotics and automation into their business.

SME manufacturers can also benefit from the Made Smarter North West programme, which recently supported its 250th manufacturer to invest in advanced digital technology.

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According to the most recent data, UK manufacturing currently risks falling behind in the global race to adopt productivity-boosting robotics technology. As well as traditional powerhouses like China, Japan, South Korea and Germany, countries such as Slovenia, Finland and Hungary now outpace the UK on robotics adoption.

2021 was a record year for new robots being installed worldwide, with over half a million added to industrial workplaces. However, UK numbers were down 7 per cent year-on-year, leaving it well below the global average of 141 manufacturing robots for every 10,000 employees and the only G7 country ranked outside the top 20.

Research shows that robotics can be a significant enabler of manufacturing productivity, with productivity rates far higher in countries where automation is more common. For example, a manufacturing employee in Germany (fourth in the global rankings) is nearly a third more productive than a manufacturing employee in the UK.


If you’re an SME manufacturer in Greater Manchester with a problem that you think can be solved by automation, get in touch with one of our Manufacturing Advisors for a full review to make sure you have the right groundwork in place.

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