Back arrowButton/calendaricon/lockicon/sponsor
Open search
Close search
Call us on0808 168 5874


Manufacturers are set to see a surge in the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning as they push for greater automation and improvements in productivity, efficiency and quality – but many are still facing significant barriers - according to a new report published today by Make UK and Infor.

Manufacturing and Automation: Opening the Gates for Productive and Efficient Growth tells us that more than half of companies surveyed are increasing their investment in these particular technologies, with nearly ¾ spending more broadly on automation across a range of technologies and functions, from manufacturing processes to product design and development.

However, manufacturers are citing a number of barriers which threaten to scupper their efforts to adopt automation, with almost half (46%) pointing to a lack of technical skills as one issue. Others include integration and data challenges (41%), high costs (38%) and negative workplace culture (36%). To add insult to injury, a majority of firms also believe the UK is failing to keep up with its competitors.

In order to combat these issues and increase the UK’s competitiveness, Make UK has outlined a number of policy recommendations, including a nationwide roll-out of the ‘Made Smarter’ scheme and expanding its remit to include industrial decarbonisation as the industry looks to improve energy efficiency and meet net zero targets.

There are also proposals around R&D tax credits, SME engagement and expensing capital allowances – all of which can be read in full in our report. 

The adoption of automation and game changing technologies by manufacturers is rapidly accelerating and will provide vital pieces in completing the productivity puzzle. But, there is still more to be done to match our competitors, especially among SMEs who face far greater hurdles in adopting digital technology.

“The first and, most significant action, Government can take is to roll out the Made Smarter scheme across the UK. This has a proven success in delivering step change for SMEs on their automation journey.
Verity Davidge Director of Policy, Make UK

We are seeing a substantial shift in the adoption of digital automation as manufacturers seek to improve efficiency, instil agility and drive greater productivity. While generative AI is still in its relative infancy, intent to capitalise on it is incredibly encouraging with many companies saying they are ‘aware of and planning to use’ the technology.

Actions, however, speak louder than words. While the government clearly has a role to play in supporting AI adoption, manufacturers have an opportunity to take control in bridging the gap between intent and value in creating first-mover advantage. The technologies are now widely available, affordable and come with a typically fast return on investment, which all help manufacturers compete in increasingly challenging conditions.
Andrew Kinder SVP, Industrial Strategy, Infor

Available resources

Make UK / Industry report