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Automation and sector impacts research 2016: summary report


This report focuses on three sectors in Scotland with potentially different automation characteristics, namely construction, financial and business services (F&BS), and the food supply chain. It considers how automation may impact them by 2025, and by doing so makes inferences to others key sectors for Scotland.


The methodology consisted of a combination of secondary research and consultations with industry experts.


The analysis of the three sectors identified four broad benefits from the increased adoption of automation technologies in Scotland: productivity in terms of making things quicker, more efficiently and flexibly to increase global competitiveness; innovation in terms of identifying new transformational solutions and applications; resource efficiency in terms of reducing material wastage, returns and breakages and potentially lowering energy costs; and workforce and skills in terms of improving workforce skills and engagement and delivering better and safer working environments, higher incomes and greater job satisfaction. In terms of impacts on each sector, the report suggests that: in the construction sector, both off-site and on-site construction activities will be enhanced by automation, reducing costs, and improving quality and speed, and health and safety; F&BS are already being transformed by the increasing use of software based artificial intelligence and automation, improving services; and the food supply chain could benefit from automation to improve productivity, increase yield, reduce costs and improve flexibility. The report highlights the importance of increasing awareness and understanding of automation and the use of collaboration for automation solutions. Findings suggests that automation will have an impact on the nature of work and the tasks within selected jobs, with some jobs being replaced by automation. However, by 2025 automation is likely to contribute to net employment growth. Over time, new industries will be formed to provide and service new automation solutions, and within the illustrative sectors the higher output enabled by automation will require increased employment.


The report suggests a series of actions that can be carried out by industry, sector and technology intermediaries, academia and the public sector that will lay the foundations for Scotland to exploit the potential of automation in the next decade. The following four key themes were identified around which actions are required: awareness; collaboration and networking; innovation; and skills.

Author Optimat
Published Year 2017
Report Type Research
  • Sectors
    Digital markets and enabling technologies, Financial and business services, Food and drink