Positive trend for automation

The trend towards automation is getting ever stronger. That’s the message from statistics presented by Anders Ekdahl, chair of the think tank AutomaTHINK and CEO of Swedish Industry Association (Sinf), on the first day of Elmia Automation.



“Things look positive.” With those words Ekdahl launched Tuesday’s panel discussion with AutomaTHINK. One question that stood out in the survey he presented was: Would your company develop positively if its degree of automation increased?

Three years ago most companies answered no. In the most recent surveys most have said yes. It’s a clear change in views about automation.

“Companies are starting to understand that they have get automated if they are going to have any production at all,” Ekdahl said.

Another interesting question was why companies are investing in automation. Almost 45 percent of those surveyed said it’s about improving profitability. But the alternative answer of “to be able to bring in new business” was also popular at 35 percent.

Tomas Berg, a member of AutomaTHINK and general manager at Schunk, had his own thoughts about this second question:

“So much is happening in the manufacturing industry right now and things that people never thought could be automated now can be. So there’s an enormous potential.”

Ulf Helles, CEO of Aventics and another member of AutomaTHINK, discussed the issue of profitability and found two answers: quality and money.

“Increased automation gives increased quality. Perhaps also an increased profit margin – not the first quarter but in the second and third years,” he said.

So how attractive is it to work in the field of automation? That was the main question of the rest of the panel discussion. One oft-repeated answer was to start early in order to get young people interested while they are still at school, and preferably before they choose their secondary school specialisation.

“Our job is to show what the modern industry really looks like and which types of jobs exist. There’s so much that is not just about designing robots but also areas like sales, purchasing and logistics,” Helles concluded.