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

 
Machining high precision turbine blades

Turning-milling centers with coordinated drive and CNC engineering achieve superior accuracy and repeatability

The complete machining of turbine blades requires striking a balance between powerful roughing and ultra-precise finishing, a task for which the modern five-axis turning-milling centers are ideal, when robust machine construction is combined with high-quality drive and control engineering.

Manufacturing NASCAR race car bodies

Ever wondered how NASCAR race car bodies are made? Check out this How It's Made episode to find out the machining, fabricating and welding processes involved.

Additive manufacturing integrated with multi-tasking

Mazak integration of additive manufacturing with multi-tasking: a laser metal deposition torch mounted on a multi-tasking machine.

Two friends with a passion for metalworking now build custom forging presses

Two friends who share a passion for metalworking have teamed up to build custom forging presses.

Powering the future of metal additive manufacturing at Sandvik

Renishaw has collaborated with Sandvik Additive Manufacturing to supply the company with high productivity multi laser RenAM 500Q systems.

Multiple 5 axis CMM probes

Renishaw Inc.’s  RFP fringe probe increases the multi-sensor capability of the Revo system by adding non-contact structured light inspection to the existing product range.

A closer look at Manufacturing 4.0

The future of manufacturing – Manufacturing 4.0, AI, Big Data – and lessons from automation at a Toyota forklift plant in Sweden, presented by futurist keynote speaker Patrick Dixon.

Keeping the doctor away

Creating a health and safety program that fits your shop’s needs

Planning Beyond Survival

by Michael Ouellette

Manufacturing experts discuss how to position your company for recovery and invest for post-pandemic growth

4 Technology Predictions

After attending two major industry trade shows−IMTS in Chicago, IL, and BI-MU in Milan, Italy−and seeing the degree of technology changes emerging in manufacturing, I began to think about how these technologies will evolve in the future.

Cutting Tools: In the Groove

Shop Metalworking Technology speaks with Kurt Ludeking, product manager at Walter USA, Waukesha, WI, about developments in grooving tools and cutting techniques.

Down to the wire

Controlling consumable costs in wire EDM

by Jim Barnes

Wire is one of the most visible costs in EDM. As a primary consumable in the process, most owners are interested in reducing their usage of wire. As with any exercise in cost reduction, though, it is important not to confuse price with cost.

4 Steps to better machining

CAM software enhancements offer machining benefits

by John Welch

“In the Ontario market we have seen a high surge of CNC multi-axis machinery being shipped out to various types of manufacturing outfits,”

DARPA's reconfigurable wheels change into triangular tracks

DARPA, the agency that brought us the Internet, has developed vehicle wheels that can switch into tank-like treads while in motion.

Zoller partners with Machining Cloud GmbH

Zoller, a supplier of tool measurement and presetting systems, is partnering with Swiss firm Machining Cloud, GmbH on the new machining cloud intelligent manufacturing application, a platform that offers applications, resources, services and information from a centralized database.

Stay In Touch

twitter facebook linkedIn

Top