Click image to enlarge

What is the biggest challenge you face running a manufacturing business in Canada?

The biggest challenge is finding skilled help.

Our challenge is to attract smart graduates that have been told by our schools that manufacturing is dead and by the fact that the construction trades offer higher wages than the traditional high level manufacturing position... in our case CNC machinist/ programmers. We have been successful in attracting bright people by utilizing the best available equipment and very interesting and highly intricate components. We have combated the offshoring by automating our processes and employee training. Currently, a substantial amount of our work is for Asia and we have been able to compete directly with China on some high end components.
—Joe Schuster, president, Billet Precision Ltd., Gloucester, ON

In Alberta it’s attaining competent and skilled people for a reasonable cost in order to be competitive in a global market!!
 —Chris English, operations manager, Link Manufacturing, Edmonton, AB

Finding capable employees to setup and operate our CNC machines has and will continue to be our #1 challenge. The major market served by Alberta’s machining industry is oil and gas. Typically, the customers we serve in this industry have many similar parts, but a wide range of sizes, thus resulting in small orders. Materials continue to be tougher and tougher (more nickel and other high temperature super alloys) not unlike aerospace. Competition amongst contract manufacturers is fierce, and lead times are typically measured in weeks (3-4 weeks being the norm). As a result, automation is often not practical for the majority of the parts we see, though this is changing with more and more manufacturers offering “built in automation” through more advanced machine tools that can do parts in one operation. Unfortunately, to set up these types of machines is more complicated, thus requiring more skilled programmers, setters, etc.
—Carter Will, P.Eng., president, BRC Engineering Ltd., Calgary, AB

Hope you are keeping well, thanks for reaching out and best of luck with this new initiative.

In response to your question, I would start off by saying that there is more than one major challenge facing manufacturing in today’s market. However, if I had to choose one, I would say competition would likely rank among the most difficult challenges. That is not to say that there are more local businesses entering our sector per se, but the competition base or pool is so much broader in today’s global economy. Our competitors are no longer just down the street or at the other end of town. Our competitors are now thousands of miles away, in countries where employees are paid in a week what our companies pay someone in a day. In many ways, this makes for an uneven playing field. It has forced us to find new and innovative ways of reinventing ourselves, looking into developing new products, new technologies, which are faster, unique, and more efficient, and that offset the side of the competitive business we cannot realistically compete against, such as wage costs, and overhead. This is our new reality, and those management teams who sit back and expect or hope that things will turn soon are mistaken. We need to adapt to the new world economies, conditions, and trends.
—Joseph Manzoli, president, Colourfast Custom Coatings Ltd., Concord, ON

Measured improvment: The metrics of metal shops that weld

by Thomas R. Cutler

Reducing manual labour in agriculture through automation machinery is not a new concept.

The best plasma torch

by Jim Colt

What is the most important consideration when buying a torch for your plasma system?

Finding your niche

YOUR BUSINESS | Automotive

by Tim Wilson

For Alec’s Automotive Machine Shop in Vancouver, BC, staying relevant means being able to change with the times.

Hi-Tec Profiles

Location: Regina, SK

Years in Business: 17

Industry 4.0 for Fabricators

by Robin Stuhler

Countering increasing market pressure with interconnected solutions

Trump & Tariffs

 by Mary Scianna

Countries implement tariffs on imports to protect domestic interests.

Why graphene hasn’t taken over the world...yet

Graphene is a form of carbon that was supposed to revolutionize materials science, medicine, engineering and more. Why hasn’t it taken over the world?

Dangerous railways around the world

This list consists 12 of the most dangerous and extreme railways in the world. From railways with deep gorges and near vertical descents, to a 100 year old railway bridge built on sea.

Reshoring: Home for the holidays or home for good?

By Mary Scianna

There’s a saying that it takes a village to raise a child.

Feeding Frenzy

by Kip Hanson

High speed, high feed, high efficiency machining? Whatever you call it, success requires a balanced approach

Blockchain for Manufacturing

 There’s a new concept circulating in the manufacturing industry: blockchain technology. Many say it’s the second generation of the digital revolution and the latest in Industry 4.0 tools. 

59,000+ attend world's largest fabricating show: EuroBLECH

EuroBLECH, the 23rd international sheet metalworking technology exhibition in Hanover Germany, closed its doors on October 25, bringing together close to 60,000 visitors from around the world.

A Mazak multi-tasking turning centre in action

Mazak's HQR-250MSY turning centre goes through its paces.

When chatter is a good thing

by Tim Wilson

There is room for manufacturers to up their marketing game

Marketing a shop's capabilities to the right audience can make a real difference to the bottom line, but unfortunately many manufacturing businesses either don't know how to approach marketing, or consider it a low priority. That's too bad because there are some low-cost approaches that can bring impressive results. These include social media, which is poorly utilized in the sector.

Takes One to Know One

by Michael Ouellette, editor

Stay In Touch

twitter facebook linkedIn