Thursday, July 19, 2018

Robots lead way for ‘farming in the future’

April 3, 2018 by  
Filed under News & Business

Farming technology was the driving force and many innovative ideas were discussed at the Lincolnshire Farming Conference – but the real talking point was the need to invest in agri-robotics.

With ‘Farming in the Future’ as this year’s theme, hundreds of farmers, exhibitors and industry experts battled the snow to come together for the annual conference, held on 27 February at the Lincolnshire showground.

Although the food and beverage sector is the largest manufacturing sector within the UK, it is a challenging environment with skills shortages and growing competition from overseas, conference delegates were told.

Keynote speaker Mike Wilson from ABB Robotics said: “The area which is struggling is productivity – and as a result the UK needs to invest in more manufacturing equipment, work smarter and give staff the tools and technologies to do their jobs more efficiently.

“Outside of car manufacturing, Germany currently has 181 robots per 10,000 workers, whereas the UK is significantly behind with 39 robots per 10,000 workers. We want to see the robots increase from 10% to 25% in order to make companies more efficient and productive.”

Mr Wilson added: “The need for robots has already been proven – they are more cost effective in comparison to labour, they do not fatigue and they do the repetitive unpopular jobs which people do not want to do.

“The reasons why companies don’t invest currently are that they feel they need the flexibility from labour, believe that they don’t have the skills or they are too small and too expensive. If a company doesn’t invest in robots it could be a sign that the business is not here to stay in the long run.”

Live demonstrations of drones, robots and new technology were all featured as part of the exhibition morning. Sessions included Case IH auto-driving with Louth Tractors, hands-free hectare with Harper Adams and field sampling with SOYL.

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