AI and ML dominate for UK manufacturers, says Infor

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A survey released by Infor and Make UK reveals AI and ML usage is set to surge, as manufacturers push to achieve automation and improvements in productivity, efficiency and quality.

The survey of 135 companies was conducted between June 21 and July 12 this year. Published ahead of the Summit on AI at Bletchley Park this week, the survey reveals companies are increasing their investment in automation across a broad range of technologies and functions, from manufacturing processes to product design and development. Infor claims these investments are set to accelerate in the next two years, leading to a higher-level skills increase and a fall in lower-skilled roles.

Of those surveyed, a majority of manufacturers believe the UK is failing to keep up with competitors, while significant barriers to further automation remain in the shape of a lack of technical skills, data integration and workplace culture. Following these results, Make UK is encouraging the government to help SMEs adopt digital technologies and address the lack of technical skills in the workforce.

The survey found that more than 55 percent of all companies asked have already implemented, or are planning to implement AI and machine learning. 59 percent of companies are planning to increase their expenditure for automation tech, and 20 percent of companies plan on automating between 25 and 50 percent of their processes.

Representing 20,000 companies across the UK, Make UK provides business support and training for UK manufacturers, with offices in London, Brussels, Wales and throughout England.

Verity Davidge, director of policy at Make UK, said: “The adoption of AI, automation and other game changing technologies by manufacturers is rapidly accelerating and will provide vital pieces in solving 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.

“As well as tackling the digital skills barrier which remains the biggest hurdle, the Government should roll out the Made Smarter scheme across the UK. This has a proven success in delivering step change for SMEs on their automation journey.”

Andrew Kinder, SVP, industry strategy, Infor added: “We are seeing a substantial shift in the adoption of digital automation as manufacturers seek to improve efficiency, instill agility and drive greater productivity. While generative AI is still in its relative infancy, intent to capitalize on it is incredibly encouraging with many companies saying they are ‘aware of and planning to use’ the technology.”