AI and Machine Learning Set to Boost Industry’s Automation Push – Make UK/Infor Survey

Make UK and Infor recently published a survey of 135 companies (conducted between June and July 2023), that results in manufacturers seeing 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. Per the press release, the survey shows that companies are increasing their investment in automation across a broad range of technologies and functions from manufacturing processes to product design and development. These investments are set to accelerate in the next two years, leading to an increase in higher levels of skills and a fall in lower skilled roles. However, this still translates in the majority of manufacturers believing that the UK is failing to keep up with competitors. In response to this feedback, Make UK is urging the UK government to roll out the successful Made Smarter scheme nationwide to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) adopt digital technologies, and work with companies to address the continued shortfall of technical skills in the workforce and reform of the Apprentice Levy. Below are key survey findings from the press release.

Key survey findings:

  • More than half of companies are investing in artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality
  • Almost two in five companies are planning to adopt generative AI
  • More than three-quarters of companies have invested, or are planning to invest, in automation
  • But majority of companies believe UK is failing to match competitors
  • Barriers to automation remain, including lack of technical skills, cost and workplace culture

To help address these barriers and boost further automation, Make UK has made the following recommendations:

  • Roll out the successful Made Smarter scheme nationwide. This is a proven scheme to help with the adoption of new technology in manufacturing businesses. It should also extend the remit of Made Smarter to include industrial decarbonization to aid energy efficiency and transition to net zero.
  • Make full expensing capital allowances permanent to enable businesses to plan investment over long leads.
  • Expand the R&D tax credit to include capital expenditure to spur further digitalized R&D.
  • Government should work with business organizations and sector -specific bodies to help SME engagement with the successful Catapult Centres. This is especially important given the geographic distribution of the centeres and would help more SMEs take advantage of their world-leading facilities.


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