The birth of AutomateUK

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In December 2023, the PPMA Group of Associations announced that it has rebranded to AutomateUK. George Thompson, Chairman of BARA, explains what this means for the associations, their members and the sectors they serve.

Firstly, I should say don’t worry, PPMA (the Processing and Packaging Machinery Association), BARA (the British Automation & Robot Association), and UKIVA (the UK Industrial Vision Association) will continue to be important divisions of the new AutomateUK. Each association will be represented, BARA and UKIVA by their committees, and PPMA by a newly formed innovation panel, providing sector-specific insight to our group leadership.

PPMA was established in 1987 as the UK’s trade association for suppliers of processing and packaging machinery to both the domestic and overseas markets. BARA and UKIVA joined forces with PPMA in 2009.

For those who aren’t aware, UKIVA promotes the use of image processing technology throughout UK industry. In a nutshell, it helps Automation to be able to see. Each of us plays an essential role in representing our members and providing essential information to those who are looking to start their journeys within those respective fields. The trouble is there are huge areas of overlap between the three organisations’ areas of expertise. There are times when end users will need advice from within each organisation, so where do you start? I am biased and always suggest that BARA would be a good starting point, which, of course, would be highly contested by both PPMA and UKIVA. As a group of Associations, we have recognised this issue and, well, we have a plan.

This plan has enabled us to take direct action and change to AutomateUK. Simply put, Automation is at the heart of everything that we do and at the heart of everything that our members do as well. That is why we have put automation front and centre in our new branding.

The PPMA Show will continue at the NEC on 24 – 26 September 2024, just with a bit of a facelift. The new branding of AutomateUK instead of PPMA being the obvious change. 

AutomationUK and the Machine Vision Conference, which are co-located events at the Coventry Building Society Arena in Coventry on 18 – 19 June 2024, will also continue; however, they will be reflecting the updated branding of BARA and UKIVA, respectively.

So, what else will be changing, I hear you ask? Well, we are busy working on our new website and improving our social media presence to help end users find the information they need faster and easier, as well as directing them towards solutions that will help them solve the issues they are facing. We will also be lobbying and discussing issues that affect our industry with policymakers and influencers, highlighting the challenges that face our members and end-users. We’ll advise on strategies that the government and other regulatory bodies can utilise to help overcome these challenges, helping to guide regulatory and technical issues for the benefit of everyone.

We will make our voice louder by using our existing channels, having a greater presence throughout traditional media platforms as well as social media and through new innovations such as the UK Automation Forum. Rest assured that AutomateUK will continue to be a defining voice, not only for our members but for the automation and manufacturing industries as a whole.

If you would like to start your automation journey but don’t know where to start, I would highly recommend visiting the AutomateUK website, which will be able to guide you and give you some initial information. 

Remember, to automate is to innovate.

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