MRO Magazine

Canadian Manufacturing Week emphasizes need to shift focus in the face of slowing economy

Toronto, ON -- As tough economic times continue to challenge the Canadian manufacturing sector, industry experts wi...


Toronto, ON — As tough economic times continue to challenge the Canadian manufacturing sector, industry experts will gather at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON, Sept. 23-25, 2008, for Canadian Manufacturing Week 2008. Here they are anticipated to discuss what they predict will be a future full of tremendous opportunity for those companies that successfully re-invent themselves. Key on the agenda is a presentation by Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Union past-president Buzz Hargrove, who will address steps for survival in the Canadian automotive industry.

“Manufacturing in Canada has a bright future,” said Jayson Myers, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), who will be speaking at Canadian Manufacturing Week, an event organized by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

Likening recent events — including the rising Canadian dollar, increasing energy costs and overseas production — to the last major economic recession 20 years ago, Myers explained that “back then, everybody was predicting the demise of manufacturing in Canada and instead, the sector doubled in size over a 15-year period. We expect to see a similar resurgence as businesses effectively position for this next period of transition.”

What’s needed, according to Myers, is a shift in strategic thinking. “It can’t be business as usual,” he stressed, noting that manufacturers tend to spend more time looking at cost-cutting measures as opposed to how to grow their business. “The future of manufacturing in Canada depends on innovation. It’s not the business of getting a product out the door any more; it’s the business of providing a solution for customers in which a great deal of the value is generated by services, innovation and knowledge.”

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One area where Canadian manufacturers are already taking a lead role, he explains, is in the support of environmental initiatives, both in developing and implementing solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve energy. “Overall, the manufacturing sector in Canada has reduced emissions by close to 10% since 1990,” Myers stated. “The sector continues to demonstrate that investment in new technology leads to better environmental performance.”

Canadian Manufacturing Week is a showcase for design engineering, maintenance products and industrial support services. Through hands-on demonstrations and expert-led conference sessions, attendees will learn the latest ideas and methods for designing new products, maintaining operations and staying one step ahead of the competition.

Highlights of the event — being held in conjunction with Weld Expo Canada — include:

– A keynote address by Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Union past-president Buzz Hargrove (Tues., Sept. 23, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.). The CAW national president from 1992 to Sept. 1, 2008, Hargrove will share his thoughts on next steps for Canadian automobile manufacturers, including how to adapt for survival and maintain Canada’s reputation as an innovative manufacturing leader.

– The CMW Town Hall Experience (Tues., Sept. 23, 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.), an interactive panel discussion on the future of Canada’s manufacturing sector featuring CME’s Jayson Myers; Monte Kwinter, parliamentary assistant to the Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Trade; Linda Hasenfratz, CEO, Linamar Corp.; and Roy Verstraete, president and CEO, Anchor Danly. Topics include the current nature of the manufacturing sector in Canada, advice on how to remain viable and competitive, strategies to address workforce development and skill shortages, and a look at how environmental issues are impacting the nature of doing business.

– Rapid Manufacturing in Canada (Thurs., Sept. 25, 8:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.), a half-day conference track sponsored by the SME that highlights how emerging technologies can significantly enhance manufacturing capabilities while making companies more efficient and lessening their impact on the environment.

– Innovations 2008, a showcase of more than 300 exhibitors and the latest technology used by manufacturers, including software that aids in rapid prototyping, printers that produce three-dimensional plastic moulds, innovative dry ice blast cleaning systems, robotic welding systems, air-operated vacuums that pack the same punch as electric-run industrial vacuums for use in hazardous areas, industrial laser systems, and much more.

– Guided tours of the Chrysler Etobicoke Casting Plant, which produces automotive pistons and transmission components, and Skyjack, an integrated manufacturer of aerial work platforms and material handling equipment based in Guelph, ON. The tours will be held concurrently on Weds., Sept. 24, from 9:00 a.m. – noon.

Additional conference sessions at Canadian Manufacturing Week will address safety issues, productivity improvements and new technologies in the welding industry, as well as how to build a culture of continuous improvement in a tough global market.

“Many foreign companies are starting to look at the advantages of manufacturing in Canada,” said Steve Prahalis, general manager of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Canada, pointing to the current oil crisis, including the high cost of transport and production, as one reason manufacturers will choose to operate in Canada where there is a reserve of oil and coal. “Global competition, the rising Canadian dollar and ever-increasing energy costs, are making Canada a more attractive place to do business and that means new opportunities will be emerging.”

For program details, visit www.sme.org.