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Episode 5 - Automate What You Hate

Robots, cobots and collaborative spaces. This month, we're taking a deep dive into the dynamic world of robotic systems and their seamless integration with humans in the workplace. Join Dr. Tom Helliwell, Gianmarco from the AMRC, and Mark Gray from Universal Robots as they unveil the transformative potential of robots. Discover how robots aren't just machines; they're partners in reducing waste, automating repetitive tasks, and safeguarding the health and safety of employees. In the realm of manufacturing, we explore how robots might hold the key to bridging the UK's labour gap, supercharging national productivity, and solidifying the UK's position as a global competitive force. Discover how robotic automation isn't just about cutting jobs but transitioning from mundane tasks to higher-value activities. 


“Robots have always been seen as quite negative I think, in the media and in the press where people relate them to job losses. But actually technology's always enabled how people are going to do their work and be more efficient…like our robots, we make collaborative robots so they can share the workspace with people and that's opening up new opportunities for people really.”

Headshots Mark Gray

Mark Gray

Mark Gray is the UK & Ireland manager for Universal Robots and has been working in the factory floor automation market for more than 20 years. Before joining Universal Robots, Mark was the sales director for Abtech, a company providing machine vision solutions for the UK market in sectors such as food, automotive, plastics, pharma and logistics. He was previously involved in building special purpose machinery for the packaging industry both in the UK and abroad.

Gianmarco Pisanelli

Gianmarco is the Technical Lead for Novel Robotics within the AMRC’s Integrated Manufacturing Group. Gianmarco currently works with the Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing (FEMM) Hub and is developing a Robotic Coil Winding Cell for flexible manufacturing of high-end electrical machines. He also closely collaborates with the ROS-Industrial Consortium to support the use of the Robot Operating System in Industry. He is the Chair of the Knowledge Exchange Working Group whose aim is to aid the push of academic research towards the higher end of the TRL scale. He was awarded the UK-RAS Community Award in 2021 for “excellent community-building activities in the RAS Community and beyond”.

headshot gianmarco


Episode Description

Join our host, Dr. Tom Helliwell, as he explores the transformative potential of robots with two industry experts, Gianmarco Pisanelli from the AMRC and Mark Gray from Universal Robots. Uncovering the key role that robots could play in bridging the UK's labour gap and enhancing national productivity, the conversation examines how automation isn't just about cutting jobs but also improving employee wellbeing, health, and safety. Gianmarco and Mark share their insights on how robots are often misunderstood and explore how technology can empower people and boost efficiency. Learn about the significance of Robot Operating Systems (ROS) and what the future holds for robotics. Gianmarco, Mark, and Tom share their perspectives on the pros and cons of humanoid robots and the impact of automation on warehousing and reconfigurable cells. Tune in for an engaging and informative discussion that will open your eyes to the incredible potential of robotics in shaping the future of work and industry.


Main Topics

  • Introductions & backgrounds (00:33) 

  • Perception of robots in society (01:50) 

  • Robots in manufacturing (05:46)

  • UK national productivity levels (08:19)

  • Improving employee wellbeing, health & safety with robotics (11:48)

  • Transitioning to higher-value activities (13:21)

  • The challenges of hardware (13:55)

  • Collaborative Workspaces & Cobots (15:37) 

  • Robot Operating Systems (22:23)

  • The future of robotics (26:50)

  • Pros & cons of humanoid robots (30:30)

  • Automated warehouses (34:33)

  • Reconfigurable Cells (36:52)

  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution & South Yorkshire (39:06) 

  • Sustainability in Manufacturing (43:25)


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