Britain's move to leave the EU could force manufacturers to boost their use of robots and automation. As Angeline Ong reports, it could help control costs and overcome a potential shortage of migrant labour.
Simon Topman, CEO of Acme Whistles, said, "Three whistles you should know about -- the ACME nightingale call, the ACME siren and the ACME train whistle. " (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACME WHISTLES, CEO, SIMON TOPMAN, SAYING: "The ACME nightingale call..(sound) " Now if it's one thing Simon Topman knows, it's how to whistle up success in manufacturing.. The company he heads made the first Metropolitan police whistle in 1883. Exporting to 119 countries, the world's biggest whistle maker became known for its high-quality 'HANDMADE' products. But the UK's vote to leave the European Union may now force it to change. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACME WHISTLES, CEO, SIMON TOPMAN, SAYING: 'We're definitely going to have to look at automation as a way to greater efficiency, but at the same time we need to retain the craft handskills that make the product rather special and individual." Now Acme still retains 'skilled' workers producing, cleaning, plating and even polishing by hand... But, some automation, like this plastic injection molding device has crept in over the years. And Topman says the usage of robots may grow as manufacturers face Brexit-related headwinds This trend is not unique to the UK, global industrial robot sales rose by a record breaking 8 percent last year, says the International Federation of Robotics. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WARWICK ANALYTICAL SOFTWARE, CEO, DAN SOMERS, SAYING: "Brexit is a wakeup call, certainly for the UK. If you look at Germany, Germany has led the way with industry 4.0 in terms of automating and improving its manufacturing with the use of data and analytics, now the UK has no choice in my view and anyone also affected by the potential recession' As for Acme, the key will be getting robots to help his craftspeople producing these special, individual whistles without losing their handmade charm.