PPMA Group rebrands as Automate UK

The PPMA (Processing & Packaging Machinery Association) Group of Associations has rebranded and changed its name to Automate UK to better represent the needs of its membership and their end user customers in the ever-changing manufacturing landscape.

The move was announced at the trade associations annual chairman’s lunch in London on 1 December and follows the publication of a Manifesto for Automation earlier in the year. This Manifesto set out the organisation’s goals and commitment to be the facilitators for change to make UK PLC more productive. It also set out the central role that automation has to play in the UK manufacturing sectors continuing success.

The PPMA was founded in 1987 and was joined by BARA (British Automation and Robot Association) and UK Industrial Vision Association (UKIVA) in 2009 which broadened the range of automation equipment and services represented. As the association matures, the leadership team feels that the time is right for the overall offer to members, and their customers, to benefit from a widening of its already extensive range of services.

As the leading trade association for automation suppliers and end users of technology across processing, packaging, robotics and machine vision, it believes it can make great strides in this crucial area of the UK economy. The three very successful associations – the PPMA, BARA and UKIVA – will continue to operate, but going forward they will come under the Automate UK umbrella.

“This is way more than just a name change,” says Automate UK’s CEO Peter Williamson. “It is a fundamental shift in how our three trade associations can impact the manufacturing arena in a positive and meaningful way.

“By driving industry progress, supporting growth of our members and helping users make more informed technology decisions, we are the go-to partner to help members and their clients thrive,” he continues. “And also increase productivity through investments in automation, in the increasingly competitive marketplace.”

The main purpose of the modernised trade body is to:

  • Drive the progress and adoption of automation technologies
  • Identify future talent and help upskill existing employees to minimise impact of skills and labour shortages
  • Support the growth of its member companies
  • Help the members and end users to make better technology decisions

“We plan to take an active part in tackling the issues facing all manufacturers today, such as the workforce challenge including skills shortages and recruitment difficulties. We will also aim to empower SMEs through clear scaling up strategies and we want to bust the misconception that robots take jobs,” said Williamson.

Automate UK will be offering a raft of practical support across the pinch points in manufacturing including grants to help reduce the skills shortages, promoting career progression through its charitable organisation PPMA BEST, along with technical support and expertise. Key to this technical support is the current recruitment of a chief technical officer who will lead the discussion on opportunities, challenges, regulations, skills and more.

The association will continue with its successful range of training, both in-house and on-line, with its export support, it’s respected magazine for end users Machinery Update, and the organisation and development of its world class exhibitions – the PPMA Show, Machine Vision Conference and Automation UK.

New for the organisation is the aim to become a recognised lobbying organisation to put forward key industry issues to government and to represent its members best interests. “There is a clear role for government to play in the drive to a more automated manufacturing sector in the UK,” says Williamson. “We estimate that our members represent a £7 bn turnover, which is why our sector should be heard in this critical area.”

The trade body wants an industrial strategy that has automation at its heart; it wants a government backed scheme to support finance for automation and it wants a tax system to provide incentives for companies investing in automation. It also believes that the apprenticeship levy should be reviewed, STEM should be promoted more in schools and also wants more support for exporters.

“We want a call to action on automation, and along with our members and their customers, the Government has a key role to play in this,” says Williamson. “ As an organisation, we are committed to making Automate UK do exactly what it says on the tin.”

Automate UK’s chairman James Causebrook believes that the re-branded trade body will succeed because of the PPMA, BARA and UKIVA legacy that has been built up over many years.

“We have years of experience and industry know how that provides the credibility in everything we do,” he says. “Knowledge and technical expertise are our key traits which gives us access to, and influence in the right circles,” he continues. “This is why I believe our focus on pushing the industry forward will reward our members, and their customers in equal measure.”

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