As part of our Insight Informed series, our Industry 4.0 practice lead Joe Lanigan-Smith gives us the low-down on everything Automation.

About our Industry 4.0 specialism… 

As well as recruiting engineering professionals within the manufacturing, pharmaceutical, food and beverages, and automotive sectors, as a team, we’ve narrowed our focus specifically to help our clients expand their automation technologies. Warehouses are a hub of innovation, and many people actually aren’t aware of how forward-thinking this industry can be. Historically though, it’s an area which has embraced change and new technologies to really push boundaries and drive improvements to the supply chain.   

In embracing automation, our clients have gained a competitive edge but the topic has also been a source of real debate from a jobs perspective. There’s the common misconception that these technologies will usher in an age of job losses but as our virtual round table will explore, that’s far from the case.  

In 2013, it was predicted that around 47% of jobs were at high risk of being wiped out due to advances in automation, however, for every robot deployed, productivity has actually increased in those companies. Automation has essentially created an opportunity to upskill employees, streamlining their workload and freeing people up to focus on the human elements. This means more creative solutions to problems but also a more precise and efficient execution of tasks.  


What’s interesting about automation?

There is constant change and evolution within the sector which is fascinating to see. Ocado for instance have completely revolutionised their warehouse distribution through automation in the creation of their hive-grid machine. It’s so advanced that it allows them to process over 3.5 million items and 65,000 orders each week, yet, the tasks the robots actually execute are so fundamentally simple. As a result, massive time and cost efficiencies are made.

It’s exciting to work with clients that are at the forefront of technology, but, as automation becomes the standard within the world of industry, automation requirements in a sense become part and parcel when it comes to recruitment. Our team, in sourcing the best talent, are helping future-proof our clients. 


What’s new? 

The pandemic has reaffirmed that robotics are here to stay. Those with pre-existing automated systems have done incredibly well as they have had the infrastructure to cope with an increase in demand. With the systems being technology-based and having less manual input, these companies have been less disrupted from a logistics point of view – robots afterall don’t need to socially distance! The challenge for the smaller businesses with less scope is that in order to compete with the big names, they need funding and investment to develop the systems. Otherwise, it’s easy for them to get left behind. 

As noted with the Ocado example, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) have really taken off. The elimination of costly and inefficient processes through the automation of routine, repetitive tasks is a big draw for commercial teams who seek to optimise human resources and empower their workforce.


Career successes…

One of my biggest success stories has been in building the engineering teams of two start-ups. We did this by placing the directors of the teams as well as supporting the adhoc recruitment of senior team members. These teams are now 60-strong so have scaled significantly which is fantastic to see. Working with clients from day one and watching them grow means that we support them not just in terms of recruitment, but we can help them meet their business objectives.


And finally, what’s the most creative example of automation in engineering you’ve come across?  

I find Moley Robotics such an interesting company. They have invented the words’ first automated kitchens which have robotic arms integrated into the design. These robotic hands reproduce the entire function of human hands replicating the speed, sensitivity and movement of BBC Master Chef winner Tim Anderson, who’s skills were recorded and replayed through the robotic hands. The consumer version is due to be launched this year so watch this space!


Our Automation and Industry 4.0 practice specialism is led by Joe Lanigan-Smith. The team recruits Automation & Controls professionals across the Manufacturing Sector from safety critical Pharmaceutical projects to Food & Beverage, Automotive Aerospace, Conveyor & Material/Bulk handling systems. These include experts within Full Life Cycle Design Programming of SCADA, PLC systems including Siemens, Allen Bradley, Rockwell, Mitsubishi, DCS, DeltaV, PCS7, HMI, WinCC and scripting, Installation and Commissioning.


Joe Lanigan-Smith is a specialist recruiter in mid to senior level appointments at Insight Engineering and focuses his market around modern manufacturing/industry 4.0. If you would be interested in more information, please email


Interested in Automation? Why not view our Let’s Get Disruptive virtual round table on The Human Element of Automation.

We discussed the human element of automation, installing automation systems, reskilling your existing workforce amidst the ‘rise of the robots’ and The future of flexibility with our experts:  

Lisa Sourbutts – MD of CUBE HR 

Russell J Kinder – Former Business Unit Manager at ABB  

Mike Wilson Chief Automation Officer at MTC 

Access here:


See More From Our Blog

Meet Our New Tech Team Member – Oliver

Meet Oliver Bentley, who has recently joined our Tech team as a PHP Recruitment Consultant. Oliver has shown a great understanding of our values and purpose at Insight with an innovative and target-driven attitude towards all his work so far. Although new to the Recruitment industry, he shows a real passion for career growth and adopts a recruitment service based on building lasting relationships with all his clients.

We’re incredibly proud he chose to start his recruitment career with us, and we look forward to supporting and sharing his future success.

read more

Meet Our New Tech Team Member – Dale

We’re incredibly excited to further grow our tech team with the introduction of Dale Warburton, who will be reinforcing our US Cloud division as Practice Lead. Dale exemplifies our values at Insight with a driven, accountable, and supportive attitude towards all his work so far. He truly provides a proficient and highly knowledgeable recruitment service for his clients with over 6 years of industry experience.

We are thrilled he chose to progress his recruitment career with us, and we have no doubt he will become an integral part of our Tech team.

read more

Meet Our New Engineering Team Member – James

Meet James Dando, who has recently joined our Engineering team as part of our Data Centres division. James has integrated seamlessly into the Insight family, embodying our values and purpose as well as bringing an energetic approach to all his work so far.

We are delighted he chose to start his recruitment journey at Insight, and we look forward to sharing his career progression.

read more

Meet Our New Tech Team Member – Jordan

We’ve strengthened our Tech team with the introduction of Jordan Bradburn, who joins our .NET practice. Jordan demonstrated our values and purpose throughout his interview process with us and continues to do so in all his work so far, building a strong talent pool of engineers and excellent customer relationships.

He has truly hit the ground running at Insight, setting a new office record after completing a placement in his first 6 days and we look forward to sharing his future achievements.

read more

Meet Our New Tech Team Member – Rob

Our Cloud & DevOps division has recently welcomed Rob McAree to the Insight family. Rob is new to the recruitment industry but has demonstrated all the fundamentals to become a successful recruiter, with past sales experience where he gained many skills that align with our values such as resilience, accountability, and a driven work ethic.

We’re thrilled he chose to start his recruitment career at Insight, and we look forward to supporting and sharing his future accomplishments.

read more

Meet Our New Engineering Team Member – Aaron

Meet Aaron McFayton our new Commissioning Recruitment Consultant. Aaron has become an excellent addition to our evolving Utilities practice, with previous experience in Mechanical (Engineering), Design and Commissioning recruitment, he brings array of knowledge to the table along with a goal-orientated recruitment service for his clients.

We’re thrilled he chose Insight to further develop as a recruitment consultant and we look forward to supporting his career ambitions.

read more