How automation can provide a solution to the skills shortage

The skills shortage is high on the news agenda and, with the issue affecting many UK industries including manufacturing and engineering, companies are understandably concerned about the future of their business. Research has highlighted that 67 percent of UK manufacturers are apprehensive about future roles within their business and the availability of skilled workers to fill them1.

There is already a wave of optimism sweeping throughout the manufacturing industry with 51 percent of manufacturers reporting improved productivity as a result of 4IR technologies2.  By automating internal processes and implementing progressive methods of production, companies can reduce operating costs, grow their business and increase efficiency. 

Increasing efficiency

The technological evolution seems to be showing no signs of slowing down and with next-day delivery now an expectation rather than a luxury, companies need to be sufficiently equipped to service increasing consumer demand.

Autobag 850S large opening packaging shoe boxImplementing smart packaging systems enables companies to speed up their production line and maximise productivity. Baggers, such as the Autobag 850S provides speeds up to 4-5 times faster than hand-packing and features bag-opening technology and next-bag-out printing, significantly increasing turnaround time and overall efficiency.

Automated Packaging Systems works with companies to ensure they can accommodate rising demand. For example, an online retailer specialising in supplying sports shirts for world-renowned clubs has recently benefitted from faster bag feeding and labelling. Previously, operatives worked at eight benches, packing all items by hand and manually printing labels and invoices on two separate printers. Automated Packaging Systems’ bagging machines provide a solution that automates the majority of the packing process, while saving space and increasing the number of items operatives can pack every hour.

These advancements allow companies to meet modern demands without the need to recruit additional staff. In fact, by using automated technology, companies require less manpower while delivering a higher output of orders.

Exploring advanced technology

4IR has increased the pace of change and there is now more advanced technology available to a company than ever before. No business wants to be left behind and it is important to utilise the full potential of progressive processes to avoid feeling the full effects of the skills shortage.

Adopting new technology, such as touch screen control units, is a great way to ease workload as the systems are easy to use and require minimal training time for operators, negating the need to recruit high-skilled workers. This also enables companies to utilise temporary workers during peak times and streamline overall processes.

Mastering the basics

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution driving change in manufacturing and offering a viable solution to the skills gap, the industry needs to adapt to remain competitive and meet increasing demand, but there is no room for complacency. Implementation should be as smooth as possible, and businesses should ensure that there is a strong infrastructure in place to accommodate the shift towards new technology.

Mail bagAutomation goes hand in hand with machinery, materials and ongoing support; it is important that machinery is easy to use, materials are readily available and customers have access to reliable support services whenever technical assistance is required as this offers added reassurance and allows technological developments, such as advanced packaging systems, to act as an extension of the team.

When managed correctly, these ingredients work together to speed up production and increase output without the need for a recruitment drive.


As the UK manufacturing industry begins to plan for an uncertain future following Brexit, it is increasingly relying on advanced technology to bring it into the digital age. However, for some businesses, 4IR is an uncomfortable subject as the uncertainty of the unknown means they approach the topic with caution.

To get the most out of what 4IR has to offer, businesses should embrace this progressive shift and explore the opportunities that have arisen as a result rather than dwelling on their own doubts.

These rapid developments have brought about significant change in the packaging industry and have enabled businesses to fast-track their operational logistics to ensure a quick turnaround of high-quality products and ultimately improve customer experience.

Semi-automated packaging solutions from leading packaging designers and manufacturers, such as Automated Packaging Systems, not only helps to futureproof a business but also saves valuable time, money and resource as a smaller workforce is required. 


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