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"We are letting the UK packaging industry suffer and we should start becoming more cost-effective by investing in robots," said Alan Spreckley. At the Packaging Fights Back Forum at Foodex Meatex 2008, Spreckley, from ABB Robotics on behalf of BARA, said that uncertainty about the future, and the perception that robots are too complicated, were holding com-panies back from savings in direct costs and overheads. "Between 1990 and 2005, the hourly wage of workers increased by 74%. In the same time, the cost of robots reduced by 50%. They are very cost-competitive." == Palletising == He said palletising was well-established in using robots, with 30-40% of firms considering robotics. Picking and packing have a low robot penetration, less than 10%, which, he said, limits our competitive edge in a European market that is already ahead of us. Spreckley was speaking on 'Robotics in food packaging - why should we bother?', emphasising how other companies had seen improvements with the use of robots, some reducing breakages from 12% to 4%.He also highlighted some of the best ways to reduce costs, including losing labour reliability and the flexibility of using machines that can do different things at the same time. "A total of £3 million is spent a year because of claims for RSI and robots reduce the risk of errors due to tiredness or sickness." SAVING He said robots enable 24-hour production to meet deadlines and can save 8% for every 1?C reduction in heating levels. He also highlighted how easy the robots are to use and how they can also improve health & safety by keeping workers away from dusty or badly ventilated areas.

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