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Find everything you need at your fingertips in the Resource Hub.

Watch the full webinar below.

Webinar Chair

Gail Hunt

Editor, Machinery Update
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Machinery Update is the official publication of the PPMA (Processing and Packaging Machinery Association). Launched in 1989, Machinery Update has developed an unrivalled reputation as the prime source of information amongst buyers and specifiers for the processing and packaging industry as a whole.

Panellists

Oliver Selby

Head of Sales | Fanuc UK Ltd
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With 20 years of experience in factory automation, Oliver Selby brings a wealth of industry and product knowledge to UK manufacturing and engineering. He is passionate about strategically transforming the UK’s automation and manufacturing position on the global stage and this can be seen through his customer first philosophy and drive to improve businesses efficiency and profitability using modern technology.

George Thompson

BARA Chairman | Güdel
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George was elected to the BARA Council in 2020. He is an experienced account manager and sales engineer with a background in mechanical and industrial engineering, specialising in robotics and automation. George is also skilled in electrical wiring, troubleshooting and repair of electronic circuits, continuous improvement programmes and manufacturing engineering.

Neil Turnbull

Sales Director | Schmalz
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Neil is the UK Sales Director of Schmalz UK, a manufacturer of vacuum equipment including robot and cobot vacuum handling solutions. Neil has worked within the UK automation sector for over 25 years and understands the challenges, but also opportunities, that companies face with delivering automation equipment projects. A staunch supporter of the PPMA and BARA, Neil is keen to develop alliance opportunities to align and support both UK manufacturing companies and system suppliers. This will continue to support the development and enhancement of the UK manufacturing industry and push forward with automation solutions.

Dermot Lynch

General Manager | ABB Robotics, UK & Ireland
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Dermot took up the role of General Manager for ABB Robotics, UK & Ireland in October 2023. He was previously ABB Group Head of Business Development & External Affairs, leading ABB’s collaborative growth initiatives involving digital manufacturing, robotics, electrification & automation. Dermot also leads ABB’s government engagement & policy strategy in addition to developing ABB’s Digital Factory go-to-market. Prior to joining ABB Dermot worked for 10 years in Energy markets holding leadership roles across Sales, Marketing, Business Development & Strategy. He is currently focused on developing ABB’s core strategic pillars of Industrial Digitalisation & Net Zero.

Watch the full webinar below.

List of audience Q&As below

We have lots of customers who like the idea of automation. Can anyone provide our team with a broad understanding so that we can help our clients and capitalise on the opportunities? We are product and brand agnostic and very enthusiastic.

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(Oliver Selby) My suggestion is to talk initially to the OEM manufacturers who will in turn talk to you directly or push you towards one of their automation partners or integrator who generally will have niche area that they specialise in. By doing this the OEMs know that you are getting the best advice from a trusted source. Alternatively, you could request an automation audit that the OEMs, integrators, automation consultants or BARA could support. By doing this you may gain a different opinion and understanding on the risks an automation solution poses. The risks may be technical or financial, and need to be weighed up depending on your risk appetite. 

Have there been any automation challenges which the currently available robotic solutions have not been able to solve?

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(Oliver Selby) Yes, but not many!. Generally if a business can throw enough cash at a problem it will be solved using the current technology stack, however, it may or may not end up being financially viable for full production. Bigger customers of the robot OEM’s generally work with the OEM to develop solutions around their needs. A good example of this are the FANUC high accuracy robots for aerospace that have been developed alongside the major aerospace OEMs like Airbus and Boeing. 

Why do businesses look at 3-5 year payback when 15-20 year service life of robot is available. Surely long period of return would be better perhaps?

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(Oliver Selby) Yes, if a business can afford to amortise the cost of investment over a longer period its easier to justify in my experience. Looking at Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is a better measure of the true value an asset provides over the course of its lifetime. It also helps support your understanding of OPEX that an asset places on a business. Other planned and unplanned indirect costs (yearly planned maintenance or unplanned downtime etc) can also be weighed up. 

How can you suggest getting designers & manufacturing engineers to design for robotics & automation for any products if only familiar with manual handling - is this a new skill set in most cases and painful?

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(Oliver Selby) My suggestion is that they engage in the early stages of their product development with automation or production experts. At the planning stage of how they will manufacture or assemble the product they are designing they should engage with experts in the manufacturing process. By doing this then they will get helpful hints and guides to how automation can be utilised to reduce costs, improve safety, efficiencies, or quality amongst other things.

What does the panel think are the key factors In securing the future of the UK's advanced manufacturing Industry?

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(Oliver Selby) My suggestion is to look at what is already being done worldwide by our global competition. We should try and replicate these existing solutions in the first instance as it is a low risk strategy. As the famous saying goes “Don’t try to fix that which is not broken”  By doing this alone we would adopt automation at a faster rate than we are right now, and make significant gains by automating our lowest hanging opportunities. Beyond that we should look at the gains automation can bring to those markets with highest growth potential, and those where the UK is very strong from its enviable R&D situation driven by superb academic and HVMC low TRL level research.