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Getting help to apply automation

22 March 2021

Mike Wilson, chief automation officer at the Manufacturing Technology Centre explains the benefits of automation for food and beverage production facilities. 

With labour shortages, low productivity and rising wage costs, the food manufacturing sector is currently facing a series of unsustainable pressures. These issues have only been exacerbated by the pandemic and Brexit, and the need to build more resilience into production operations has never been so important. 

Automation and robotics offer a solution. By automating the dangerous, demanding and dull tasks organisations can provide a safer working environment for employees, whilst allowing them to spend more time on value-adding tasks. An engaged workforce will be more productive and efficient, and businesses are likely to benefit from increased retention. 

However, the food sector has been slow to invest in automation and the lack of progress is often attributed to a number of common factors – There is a perception that automation is ‘not for us’, either because it is too complicated, will not meet business needs, is too risky or too expensive. For businesses new to automation and robotics, there are often concerns around engaging automation vendors, not trusting them to provide advice rather than selling the solutions they have. 

Negotiating the journey
The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) is able to help organisations negotiate the journey successfully. From providing guidance on the most appropriate applications to automate, developing user requirement specifications, preparing business cases, and supporting with supplier selection, it is available to ensure businesses receive the solutions they need. 

The MTC is vendor agnostic with knowledge of the 50 robot vendors and over 250 system integrators operating in the UK, and so is able to recommend the most appropriate delivery partners to meet specific business requirements. Its independent advice and support helps companies execute successful projects and achieve performance improvements for their businesses. 

Typically, the relationship will start with a free-of-charge line walk of operations to identify the best way forward. With extensive skills and experience across a range of technologies and their implementation, as well as business transformation, the MTC will help you look at the big picture and identify the best route forward for your organisation. Its team is also able to work with you to ensure your business is ready to make the most of new technologies. 

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