Australian manufacturers increase investment in automation
Universal Robots canvassed the views of members of various online groups dedicated to communicating with the Australian manufacturing community. These groups included the Australian Manufacturers Forum, the Australian Furniture Association Industry Forum, the First 500 group of SME business owners, the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council and The AiG Australian Manufacturing LinkedIn group.
The results showed three quarters of respondents were looking to invest in automation in the future, suggesting an increasing focus on innovation within the Australian manufacturing industry, backed by continued growth and business confidence.
Amongst those respondents looking to invest in automation, an overwhelming majority (57 percent) plan to invest in robotic solutions in the future, while 36 percent plan to invest in automation via materials handling. A quarter of respondents plan to spend on Internet of Things solutions, while just over one fifth will invest in on logistics.
Universal Robots’ results reinforce recent research from Telsyte, which found that one in three organisations intend to use robotics and 25 percent of large organisations are already using Robotic Process Automation.
According to the findings, the top reasons for Australian manufacturers to automate processes include; improving business efficiency, reducing production time, improving quality, reducing staff costs and freeing up staff to work on value add tasks, as well as to satisfy growing orders.
“In the face of high local labour costs and the need to drive efficiencies, automating processes is now considered essential in order to compete both on a regional and international level,” said Shermine Gotfredsen, General Manager, Universal Robots, Southeast Asia & Oceania.
While the vast majority of Australian manufacturers are confident in their business growth and plan to invest in automation, the research also indicated that a lack of funds and information available continue to be a barrier to achieving innovation.
The top five barriers to innovation were identified as a lack of budget, inability to raise funds, lack of knowledge of what products are available, unsure where to start and too busy with day-to-day operations.
“The uptake of automation in the ANZ market has not yet reached the scale of adoption of Asian neighbours. As our research shows, a lack of information and awareness of available automation options is still a significant hindrance to Australian and New Zealand manufacturers achieving greater levels of innovation. Local industry players are not widely informed of where they can find information and help with their automation and business needs,” said Gotfredsen.
Other key findings from the survey include:
• Over 80 percent of business are either confident or extremely confident about sales in the coming year. This is despite of a clear lack of confidence in the Australian Government’s management of the manufacturing sector of the economy, with 83 percent of respondents identifying it as being either managed either poorly or not very well. • To fund automation, the majority of manufacturers (63 percent) rely on cash reserves, followed by asset finance (29 percent) and either a business growth fund or state aid/grant (23 percent). • 95 per cent of organisations expect a full return on investment on an automation solution after 12 to 24 months.
The full survey results can be found in Universal Robots’ new whitepaper, ’State of Innovation and Automation in Australian Manufacturing’ here.