WALES: Covid has ‘accelerated’ industrial automation in Wales

WALES: Covid has ‘accelerated’ industrial automation in Wales

WALES: Covid has accelerated the
introduction of automation in industry, says a manufacturers association.

Wales said its members and other businesses were adopting robotics two or three
years faster than expected.

The Unite
union said new technology should not replace workers’ jobs.

The Welsh
government said it was helping firms develop technology to stay competitive in
the “fourth industrial age”.

Talbot’s Rototherm has produced industrial measuring instruments, like pressure
gauges, since the 1840s.

It had
planned to introduce automation and robotics in the next three years, but the
pandemic has been a catalyst for change.

As a
founding member of Manufacturing Wales, the company said businesses were realising
the benefits of automation.

operations manager Mark Roberts said: “The members we are talking to, some
of the bigger companies and the smaller ones who are into electronics, they
know that they have to move with the times and move this way.

looking at things like robotics for welding, and in the next two to three
years, we’ll see even more of this.

safeguarding the future of the business because it gives you more efficiency.

can offer more products for the market in a quicker time, so it actually
increases your competitiveness as a manufacturer.”

Roberts said the introduction of automated systems had not impacted on staff
numbers and the process had let the business invest in new ventures, which then
created new opportunities and a chance for some workers to develop skills by
learning to operate computer-controlled machinery.

the past 18 months, social distancing guidelines and self-isolation rules have
presented challenges for business, including frequent staff shortages.

Industore, which makes automated storage and retrieval units for warehouses,
said interest in its products had gone “through the roof” in recent
months, including from blue-chip companies.

director Ross Powell said: “People have been forced to turn to automation
and use machines like this to ensure they can still open the doors of their
business during the pandemic.

we’ve noticed is that other industries, like the automotive industry,
pharmaceutical companies, and even the cosmetic industry, have decided that
automation is the way to go, and these machines will save them time, money and

Will workers be replaced by robots?

by think-tank Future Advocacy before the first lockdown in 2020 said
“eight million jobs in Britain are at risk of automation by the early

Wales regional secretary Peter Hughes said: “Unite will always seek to
ensure that the introduction of new technology must not be at the expense of
workers’ jobs.

introducing automation should work with unions to explore solutions such as
shorter working time to maintain employment levels.

next generation of technology will generate wealth and this needs to deliver
for ordinary people, not just make bigger profits for corporations.”

The Welsh
government said: “We are helping businesses overcome key challenges of the
future, changing our support mechanisms to help them develop and adopt new
products and technology to remain competitive in the fourth industrial

It added
it wanted technology to help “make fair work a reality for more workers
across Wales”.

The UK
government said it had committed £175m to accelerate integrating new
technologies into manufacturing.

spokesman said: “Our industry-led made smarter review exploring the
benefits of digital technology found that automation could add over 175,000 new
jobs to the UK, rather than losing them.”

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