The former divisions are Factory Automation, which sells products such as CNC (computer numerical control) systems, Robots and Robot Machines, which is the development, manufacture, sale and maintenance of small-sized machining centers, electric injection molding machines, wire-cut electric discharge machines and nano-processing machines.
‘One service entity’
Chris Sumner, managing director, FANUC UK, told FoodProductionDaily.com it was grouping everything together into ‘one service entity’ and moving to bigger premises in Coventry.
“FANUC UK will now include all our business models. The decision to change the name was driven by our HQ in Japan,” he said.
“We were three separate divisions before and there was a lot of confusion from our customers of who to speak to when there was a cross over. Clients have been asking for some time to place one order rather than two or three.
“We originally had three locations; Ruislip, north London, Daventry, Northamptonshire and Coventry, West Midlands. We closed Daventry last year and moved the operations to Coventry and brought people in from Ruislip to Coventry.
“We will now expand the facility in Coventry with a view to moving to bigger premises within the next two years. We are going to buy a plot of land and build a purpose-built facility.”
Sumner will celebrate his 25th anniversary working for the company, in September this year, which will coincide with a European sales meeting in Istanbul.
Advancements in software
He said the biggest change he has seen over the years has been the capabilities of software and what you can do with it. But, he added, the Japanese mentality of machines is different to Brits because ‘we run a machine to death but they run it methodically’.
He added, the main reasons for UK manufacturers’ reluctance to invest in modern manufacturing technology is linked to a lack of knowledge, skills and confidence.
“I wish certain industries would take the time to assess a robot and its automation capability like they do in the US and Japan,” said Sumner.
“The mentally we have in the UK is a company will look at a capital investment of £100k and run that machine flat out for eight hours a day and then start it up again each day and expect a return on investment.
“The Japanese don’t run it at 100% but 70% throughout the day and night and at a certain rate where the machinery runs at a slower pace and much more efficiently and effectively. They have a very different mental approach to their investment.
“The requirements need to be understood. Like in any industry, if you put bad information or a bad product into a system you can’t expect it to cope with many variations. But, if the equipment isn’t specified or utilised correctly the expectations are different to what can be achieved.”
British Automation and Robotics Association
The latest figures published by the British Automation and Robotics Association (BARA) show an acceleration in the deployment of robotics by UK food manufacturers, revealing a 60% increase in food sector adoption in 2013 compared to 2000 (BARA 2013 Full Year Report).
Sumner said FANUC makes 5,000 robots a month and attributes this boom to factory modernisation, increases in production capacity and rising demand from a number of emerging markets.
“The most recent demands from producers relate to food safety and the use of robots to improve hygiene during the manufacturing process,” he added.
“The UK is coming to terms with having to look at more automated processes and having to be more efficient, with cleanliness and handling of a product.”