Now the dust has settled following the general election it's time for the new Conservative government to put its money where its mouth is and focus some attention on the country's manufacturing industry. The hi-vis vest and hard-hat become the fashion accessories of choice throughout the campaign as the phrase 'rebalancing the economy' was uttered time and time again. All the prime ministerial candidates were keen to be seen visiting and supporting major UK manufacturers while hammering home the message that the industry is vital to the future prosperity of the country and they were the ones to be trusted with the economy. Well now it's time for the talking to stop and some action to be taken.
Prime Minister, David Cameron is certainly making the right noises regarding increasing opportunities for apprenticeships, and with unemployment falling to its lowest level for seven years, things are heading in the right direction. But the UK's manufacturing industry is still way behind that of our European neighbours when it comes to investment in automation technology. This is where the real opportunities exist that will enable UK manufacturers to compete on a more level playing field, but it requires investment and the will to change and that has to be led from the top. With the good news that the automation industry is set to grow this year we need make sure the UK has gets its share and doesn't fall any further behind.
One area where the UK still lags behind is in the use of robotic technology and this issue we investigate why the time is right for robots, new lightweight collaborative models and how robots are helping a variety of industries to improve their efficiency, accuracy and repeatability.
Packaging is another key sector where automation can make a real difference, whether picking and placing product, checking quality or coding finished goods. Energy continues to be a major cost for manufacturers, so anything they can do to better manage their energy consumption will improve their bottom line. In this issue we have two case studies where more efficient cooling is saving firms money while also future-proofing their energy needs, and we also investigate options for using renewable energy. Other features include manufacturing softwareand automated test systems, plus a new 'Ask the Expert' column from ABB.
And don't forget to make a note in your diary to attend this year's Machine Building Show that takes place at the NEC Birmingham on 30th September and 1st October. The show is once again co-located with Sensors & Instrumentation and the PPMA Show making it a very worthwhile visit. Find out more at www.machinebuildingshow.co.uk