MRO Magazine

New automation centre in St. John’s to boost training resource for local industries

Newfoundland and Labrador's College of the North Atlantic is creating an advanced Industrial Automation Training Centre at its Ridge Road campus in St. John's, Nfld. The centre will be operated by the...

February 1, 2001 | By MRO Magazine

Newfoundland and Labrador’s College of the North Atlantic is creating an advanced Industrial Automation Training Centre at its Ridge Road campus in St. John’s, Nfld. The centre will be operated by the College’s School of Engineering Technology and will bring a much needed training resource to the province that will be particularly applicable to the needs of local industries.

The college expects to attract students from the province, across Canada and the world, thereby setting a very high standard for the type of equipment to be used in the Centre’s Automation Laboratory.

Daniel Wong, Ph.D., Chair, School of Engineering Technology, expects that the centre will become a premier provincial educational and industrial asset and will allow the college to respond to the growing need for engineering technology graduates trained in automation technologies.

In particular, he cites the increased use of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) in the production plants of the local oil and gas, mining and pulp and paper industries. Oil and gas, he notes, has been in the national spotlight of late given the number of new offshore production projects being developed.


“It is important for us to be able to offer training to both students and workers from industry that is state of the art technology,” says Dr. Wong.

Annually, he reports, some 300 students studying electrical, electronics, mechanical engineering technology and manufacturing automation technology will use the facility, the only such centre in the province. In addition to serving the needs of students in St. John’s, distance training programs will bring the resources of the centre to students at the college’s 18 campuses and to industrial sites across the province and the world. “Visiting faculty members from Sichuan University of Science and Technology in China showed great interest in using the Internet to access the centre,” adds Dr. Wong.

The college recently selected Siemens as its partner in the creation of the training centre. The company, with its Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) line, has a wide portfolio of products covering both factory hardware and software and interconnectivity to an organization’s administration systems. TIA is used not only in Canada but around the world by companies in every industrial sector.

The focal point of the College of the North Atlantic’s automation laboratory consists of 12 workstations individually comprising three sections, each equipped with key industrial automation components including Siemens PLC, variable-speed motor drive and human-machine interface products.

In total, the facility will contain more than $560,000 worth of current Siemens products, giving students in the mechanical and engineering technology programs access to the company’s most advanced technology. As well, the establishment of the centre will help the college fulfill its mandate of technology transfer through industrial automation training programs designed for local industry.

“This kind of partnership we have established with the college is important to making sure that Newfoundland and Canada have the local resources in place to meet the ever changing needs of the global market,” says Tim Duffy, vice-president of sales, Industry and Construction Group, Siemens Canada. Siemens Canada is based in Mississauga, Ont.


Petro-Canada Research and Development Laboratories in Mississauga, Ont., has won the 2000 Technical Achievement Award from the Sheridan Park Association for the development and commercialization of Luminol, a long-life, high-efficiency, environment- and worker-friendly electrical insulating fluid for use in power transformers.

The award is presented annually to a company that demonstrates significant technological innovation with a commercial application. If entries do not meet the stringent criteria, no award is given out.

Researchers have been looking to develop a transformer fluid that can meet or exceed the performance of naphthenic-based transformer oils currently in use but that also are safe to the environment and to workers who might be exposed to it.

Petro-Canada made a breakthrough with the development of a new synthesized isoparaffin-based technology, which essentially is free of environmental and human toxins and is readily biodegradable in the environment. It also provides such benefits as greatly increased life span, reduced power loss, wider operating temperature range and the ability to better withstand spikes, surges and arcing.

“They soved a problem that researchers have been working on for decades,” said Tony Warner, president of Sheridan Park Association. The association, which was founded in 1965 and occupies a 340-acre industrial park in Mississauga, has 13 members, and is one of the very few research communities in the world to be initiated and built entirely by industry. It is located at 2275 Speakman Drive, Unit 6, Sheridan Science and Technology Park, Mississauga, ON L5K 1B1; tel. (905) 823-6160, fax (905) 823-6161. Its web site address is


Wesco International of Pittsburgh, Pa., has signed a three-year agreement to provide electrical MRO supplies and commodity management services to Toronto-based Falconbridge Limited, a producer of nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum group metals. Established in 1928, Falconbridge has 6,400 employees in 14 countries.

Wesco International’s primary operating entity is Wesco Distribution, Inc., a distributor of MRO products, construction materials and advanced integrated supply procurement outsourcing services. It operates over 340 full-service branches throughout North America.

Implementation of the agreement, which will move the company away from a multi-vendor procurement process towards vendor consolidation, has already begun at four of Falconbridge’s facilities, including its mining and metallurgical divisions in Timmins and Sudbury, Ont., and its operations in Raglan, Que., and the Dominican Republic.

According to Bill Goodwin, Wesco vice-president, international, the company’s expertise in industrial maintenance commodity management programs for the mining and metallurgy industry will enable Falconbridge to accelerate its implementation of the program and reach cost savings and productivity improvement goals rapidly. “Our program is flexible, and we will tailor our products and services to meet the unique requirements of each Falconbridge site,” he said.

Falconbridge’s Dan Sauve, manager, supply chain management, Canadian Mines, is confident that the company’s savings targets, including inventory reduction, can be met within two years. In addition, he feels that the internal efficiencies resulting from the vendor-managed inventory system will generate significant benefits. “Working with Wesco will substantially reduce the amount of time that our employees devote to transactional activities and reclaim hundreds of hours for our core business activities,” he said.


A study by Specialists in Business Information indicates that over the next five years U.S. pump market sales will increase at a 6.2% annual rate, while market sales are forecast to top US$13.4 billion by the year 2005. In 2000 there was an increase to 670 in the number of U.S. pump manufacturers, up by nearly 50 from 1997. Although this gave rise to growing competitive pressures, margins increased as a result of improved productivity.

Manufacturers are becoming more efficient by, among other things, carrying out mergers and acquisitions, optimizing employment levels and keeping a cap on wages. Reducing manufacturing costs has enabled the pump industry to grow, even while selling prices have tended to drop.

Details on ordering the complete report are available on the Internet at


A leadi
ng OEM/MRO event in the United States, the National Manufacturing Week shows annually showcase a comprehensive array of technology, solutions and innovations for industrial users. The March 5-8, 2001, event comprises four separate expositions under this umbrella, which drew 54,895 industry professionals in 2000.

National Manufacturing Week includes National Industrial Enterprise IT, National Industrial Automation, National Plant Engineering MRO & Management and the National Design Engineering shows.

One of the highlights of the National Design Engineering Show is the Motion Hall, a marketplace for power transmission, motion control and fluid power, sponsored by the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA). Additionally, PTDA will again sponsor Industrial Distribution Day, scheduled for Mar. 6.

For more information, visit


In 2001, the STLE (Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers), Toronto Section, is beginning two new initiatives involving the Internet. The first is the launch of a local web site at “We will use this site to provide program information as well as other ongoing activities,” says Wayne Mackwood, chairman, 2000-2001. “We hope that this site will grow to provide a valuable resource for all tribological needs.”

Secondly, the Toronto chapter is planning to send out monthly notices to its members via e-mail. This will reduce mailing costs and ensure that members receive notices in a timely manner. Those who wish to receive correspondence in this manner are being asked to provide their e-mail addresses.

As well, STLE Toronto has a broad slate of speakers scheduled throughout the year, presenting topics from additive actions to predictive maintenance. A good venue for professional networking, its dinner meetings at the Old Mill in Toronto offer interesting talks on subjects pertinent to today’s industry.


Stories continue below

Print this page