adopting additivesClick image to enlargeby Noelle Stapinsky

As the fourth industrial revolution ushers its way in, additive metal manufacturing is proving to be a disruptive technology 

If Canadian manufacturers are to embrace Industry 4.0, investing in emerging technologies is paramount to maintain a competitive foothold. And while it took a global pandemic to accelerate the adoption of increased automation on the shop floor—not just in Canada, but globally—many are keeping the momentum going. 

According to Rob Connell, a partner in KPMG’s tax incentives practice, who also advises manufacturers on applying for research and development funding for Industry 4.0 initiatives, Canadian manufacturers excel at traditional automation, but when it comes to advanced technologies, they need to start investing or risk falling further behind international competition. 

“We surveyed 165 industrial companies across Canada in a pre-pandemic survey on their digital maturity, and we found that nearly 75 per cent of Canadian companies intended to invest less than five per cent of their annual revenue on improving their digital capabilities,” says Connell. 

Globally, KPMG found that Industry 4.0 gained momentum during the pandemic and it expects it to accelerate rapidly as companies look to build resilience and improve operations, production efficiency, speed to market, customer service and end-to-end supply chain transparency.

“Industry leaders are already leveraging Industry 4.0 solutions. Japan, Germany, South Korea, and even Poland, which is not known for being a global industrial powerhouse, are investing heavily in Industry 4.0 to the extent that entire factories are being renovated,” says Connell. “3D metal printing is growing quickly in the US, Europe, China and Asia. While the US has had an early lead due to adoption from the aerospace and defense sectors, China is expected to see the largest growth rate in 3D metal printing over the next several years.”

Up until now, Canadian manufacturers haven’t had a lot of incentive to adopt emerging technologies for various reasons. KPMG research shows that the main barriers for investing are: the fear the technology won’t work; changing organizational culture; and the lack of talent or skillset in implementing the technology to achieve business outcomes. 

“Also, Canadian manufacturers have not embraced these emerging technologies because, frankly, they haven’t had to,” says Connell. “Financial results have been strong and there is little incentive to change. However, the speed of innovation is accelerating and there is real risk that if we don’t keep up with our international competition, we’re going to find ourselves at a significant technological and economic disadvantage.”

He concludes, “Don’t bring a gun to a drone fight. Canadian manufacturers need to recognize that what got us here won’t keep us here. We need to evolve.”

Trail Blazing
While there still remains some hesitation around 3D printing technology, there are some early adopters of Additive Metal Manufacturing (AM) technology, such as automotive, aerospace and defense industries. 

With the new push on battery electric vehicle (BEV) production (see Case Study – Smart Investment) additive technology will play a pivotal role in component development. And Rob Connell, a partner in KPMG’s tax incentives practice, says that projections indicate that aerospace and defense will be the sectors with the highest growth rate in 3D printing from 2020 to 2027. 

“3D printing accelerates new product introduction, enables low volume batches, decentralizes manufacturing and enables greater product variety and customization. And it allows shorter lead times from design to the release of the product compared to conventional tooling and machining practices,” says Connell. 

Some of the main benefits of AM include shorter development times, reduced costs, rapid prototyping, reduced material waste, and the ability to make complex geometries that may not be possible with traditional manufacturing processes. 

“The question is, are manufacturers in Canada really capitalizing on the benefits of these technologies?” says Connell. “Canadian universities have done a great job investing in research in 3D metal printing. There is a significant opportunity for Canadian manufacturers to leverage existing incentive programs—such as the National Research Council’s Innovation Assistance Program (IRAP) and MITACs, a Canadian non-profit organization that helps build partnerships that support industrial and social innovation—to work with these universities to help further advance these technologies and bring them to market.”

The next frontier of AM, according to KPMG, is the space sector. 3D printing helps accelerate innovation for space and aerospace exploration due to low cost and rapid prototyping, and by lowering or optimizing the weight of low volume parts. 

“The space sector is a small segment of Canada’s economy, but we believe it has the potential to deliver significant and sustainable benefits to Canada’s economy post-pandemic,” says Connell. “The space sector currently contributes $2.3 billion to Canada’s GDP and directly employs nearly 10,000 people. Small to medium businesses account for over 90 per cent of all space firms and nearly 30 per cent of employment. If Canada creates the right conditions, we could see exponential growth in the not-too-distant future.” 

Future Focus
The mindset is shifting. Here are some quick facts on where the market is going and what manufacturers are focused on today.

  • Global sales of additive manufacturing (AM) products and services are expected to more than double to about US$35 billion by 2024
  • All major OEMS have AM divisions or are testing AM solutions
  • Seven out of 10 Canadian technology executives say that emerging technologies are essential to their future survival
  • US companies are currently spending 30 per cent more on Industry 4.0 technology than Canadian companies
  • 84 per cent of Canadian CEOs are now prioritizing technology investments to meet growth and transformation objectives
  • 92 per cent of CEOs say COVID-19 has accelerated the digitization of their operations
  • 71 per cent of manufacturers are saying emerging technologies—including cloud enabled technologies—are essential to future survival
  • The 3D Metal Printing market is forecast to reach US$6.07 billion by 2027

Sources: KPMG article Why additive manufacturing is here to stay; KPMG International and Global industry Report; KPMG Global CEO Outlook; Reports and Data (globalnewswire.com)

 

 

Breaking Additive Manufacturing Barriers: A Bigger Build

New robotics-enabled technology promises to break some major additive barriers

End mill for composites

Sandvik Coromant's CoroMill Plura compression end mill for composites combines a positive and negative helix design to "compress" the top and bottom of the component edge.

First graduates from program help to fill skilled trades gap

In April, 20 youth graduated from the Canadian Tooling & Machining Association's 32-week introductory Trades Training program for tool, die, mould and machining skills.

Agri equipment maker improves welder training

ALMACO, a manufacturer of custom built, agricultural equipment such as combines, planters and threshers, uses Miller Electric's LiveArc welding performance management system to improve training while also giving potential and existing employees the skills needed to do the best job for their customers. The system provides immediate feedback during training, allows instructors to customize welding programs to ALMACO’s exact needs, and allows for welding in both simulation and live arc mode.

Dry cut metal pipe, plate and profiles

 

CS Unitec's new 356 mm (14 in.) chop saw dry cuts metal pipe, plate and profiles without the need for lubrication or manual deburring.

Haas donates equipment to Alberta machinist program

Haas Automation with support from its Western Canadian distributor Thomas Skinner, has donated new equipment to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), completing a large scale expansion to support the increased volume of students as well as upgrades to the school's curriculum on CNC training.

Mining opportunities

by Tim Wilson

Finding success in Canada’s resources sector

Ford aluminum truck body wins auto show award

The all-aluminum body of Ford's 2015 F-150 truck won the Best New Innovation Technology award at the Montreal International Auto Show.

Robotic air cooled guns

Tregaskiss has introduced the third evolution of its Tough Gun robotic air cooled MIG gun product line, the Tough Gun CA3 and Tough Gun TA3.

Cut pipe, box sections or profiles with one machine

HGG’S newest Multi-Profile Cutting Machine (MPC 450 2.0) provides a cost-effective and flexible solution for manufacturers that can no longer justify a dedicated machine for pipe profiling alone.

Precise Priorities

by Noelle Stapinsky

Growing with its customers is Brematech’s main focus

Automotive rebound: Canada, US, bounce back

Despite recent concerns about an economic slowdown, car sales continue to climb according to Scotiabank’s Global Auto Report.

Kennametal, Sumitomo Electric partner on technology

 

Kennametal and Sumitomo Electric have signed a licensing agreement under which Sumitomo Electric will provide and support Kennametal's new and advanced KM4X spindle connection solution to Sumitomo Electric customers globally. Sumitomo Electric is a supplier of electric wire, optical fibers and cutting tool products.

New president for Sandvik Coromant MAA

Eduardo Martin is the new president of Market Area Americas (MAA) for Sandvik Coromant, Fair Lawn, NJ. The MAA region includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico and the US. He previously lead Sandvik Coromant in Italy and succeeds John Israelsson, who is now the president of Sandvik Hyperion. Martin began his career with Sandvik more than 25 years ago and started as a machinist.

Sandvik Coromant

Welding group offers support to Fort McMurray welding community

The CWB Group and The Canadian Welding Association (CWA) is providing support for members of the welding community affected by the recent Fort McMurray fire. The fire has devastated many homes and businesses in Fort McMurray and surrouding areas.

Stay In Touch

twitter facebook linkedIn