71 industrial robots installed per 10,000 workers in UK

12 June 2018 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
More news on

The UK is currently lagging behind 21 other nations in the adoption of robot density proportional to its industrial workforce. While Britain is above the global average of 74 robots per 10,000 employees, the UK was still below the European average.

Robotisation in the industry is forecast to continue in the coming years as well. According to the IFR, 294,000 new robots were installed worldwide throughout 2016, of which around 100,000 in the automotive industry and 90,000 in the electronics sector. The number of robots involved in the global workforce is on course to have grown by 349% in ten years by 2020. According to Consultancy.org analysis of data from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) and Bloomberg, 521,000 robots will have been installed in the industrial and manufacturing landscape in 2 years’ time.

The average number of robots has increased by about 20% over recent years, a figure that applies both globally and to Europe. Worldwide, according to the IFR, an average of 74 robots per 10,000 employees are in use in 2016, in Europe 99. The charge is currently being led by the South Korean industry, where 631 robots can be found per 10,000 workers. As of 2009, the Asian nation overtook nearby Japan as a leader. Despite the nation’s reputation for technological prowess, since that year, robot density in Japan has been steadily decreasing.Number of industrial robots installed globally by yearThe UK is ahead of the curve on a global basis, with 71 robots per 10,000 workers – however the nation is also well below the European average. This is despite reports suggesting that logistics robots are set to make 40% of low skilled workers in the sector obsolete, and the prediction that over 60% of all work activities could be automated by 2055 subsequently remains a distant prospect.

In contrast, the robot density in the Netherlands has increased considerably in recent years. Only China saw a stronger increase, as while there were already 93 robots per 10,000 Dutch employees in 2013, by 2015 there were already 153, according to calculations by the IFR. With more than 11,000 robots in use, the Netherlands has made a big catch-up with other countries. In these years, robot density in the Netherlands grew by 65% much faster than the rest of the world.

Number of industrial robots by countryThe growth in robot adoption is a key method for companies looking to reduce expenditure and increase profits, and as such around a third of global companies with revenues over $100 million are planning to upgrade their HR infrastructure to best exploit the innovative technology. However, four in every ten in the US, and a quarter of those Europe said that they currently lack a “good understanding” of how automated processes could impact their skills requirements.

Reskilling workers with a wider or broader skillset, compensating for changes in in-demand skills, is cited as one way to reduce the impact of changes in the work environment. However, given the potential scale of changes, as well as the speed of implementation – key questions remain around whether retooling people at scale is achievable, or even desirable. If the rate of growth for robotisation is set to grow at the expected rate, these are key issues which businesses of the world will need to get the most out of robotics in the workplace.

Related: UK manufacturing employment nosedives, with automation looming.