Click image to enlarge

by Jim Barnes

While recent resurging North American auto sales have led some to celebrate, it may be more of a reprieve for the Canadian automotive industry than anything else. 

That growth is coming off very low numbers. According to data provided by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, North American unit production of light vehicles dropped from 15,102,752 in 2007 to 8,626,384 in 2009.  

“The bottom was pretty low, and there was nowhere else to go [but up],” notes Mark Stoddart, chief technology officer and executive vice president, marketing, Linamar Corp., Guelph, ON.

 “We are looking at close to 14 million units this year,” he says, adding that in 2013, growth to 15 or 16 million units might be realistic.

“From a vehicle production point of view, the industry has recovered about 40 per cent of its lost volume,” says Dennis DesRosiers. However, he notes, “our parts sector has not recovered any volume.”

Two factors drove the glory days of the auto industry in Canada. 

The first was strong trade with the US, underpinned by Auto Pact and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Since then, low-cost offshore competition has made major inroads in the market and many automotive OEMs have turned to Mexico as a source of production.

The second factor was a currency exchange rate that worked strongly in our favour. At 70 cents to the dollar, manufacturing in Canada made for a compelling argument. However, international demand for commodities in the past decade has strengthened the Canadian dollar to parity with the US dollar. That is unlikely to change significantly.

The industry was already struggling when the recession hit. Some of the OEMs teetered on the edge of insolvency during the credit crisis, rescued by a $4-billion emergency loan package in Canada in 2008. Not only was business down, but some real risk entered the picture—would the customers still be in business a year from now?

Wages and benefits were another piece. When the recession hit, the Canadian Auto Workers union tried to protect the wages and benefits in its collective agreements. Its US counterpart, the United Auto Workers, fought to keep jobs and made concessions. While comparing overall labour costs and productivity is a complicated exercise, the automotive OEMs insist that labour costs in Canada are substantially higher.

The bottom line is the Canadian industry has a long fight ahead of it, even with the welcome return to something approaching normal in automotive sales. SMT

Jim Barnes is a Toronto-based journalist with 30 years of experience in writing about manufacturing technology.

To read more on this topic click here.

 

 

Cost savings on abrasives: White Paper

Walter Surface Technologies has publsihed a white paper that illustrates how manufacturers can achieve cost savings with abrasives in metal finishing applications.

6 tips to consider when moving to automated plasma cutting

by Dirk Ott, vice president, Global Plasma Automation, Thermadyne Industries

If you cut the same shape repeatedly, have a high degree of rework, spend a lot of time grinding or need “weld ready” cut parts, it’s time to automate. Here are six tips to facilitate the transition:

High speed machining of Mathews bow quiver components

High speed machining of Mathews bow quiver components on a Makino 51nx horizontal machining centre.

Inspection techniques

As anyone in the fabricating and welding business knows, process and part inspection is a critical component of a successful business. Build and weld a poor part will simply guarantee failure.

Achieving productivity gains

White paper illustrates how advanced machines, tooling help machine tool builder improve productivity

This white paper illustrates the immediate productivity gains resulting from the combination of an advanced third-generation machining centre and optimized tooling. The machine is the Mazak Horizontal Centre Nexus (HCN) 8800, a mid-sized horizontal machining centre with a 31.5 in. (800mm) square pallet, and the tooling is from Seco Tools.

Cutting Tools Tech Tips: Centering your machining centre processes

By Tim Fara, Bilz Tool Co.

Machining centre manufacturers spend effort, design, and cost to make sure the spindle in the machine will operate on centreline. Spindle rotational accuracy as well as spindle alignment play an important role in cutting tool performance and productivity.

Aftermarket adapter fits most machines

U-tec a patented flexible tool adapter system from tool maker Heimatec, allows a standard ER output live tool to accept various adapters for different applications.

8 Insert Failures

by Don Graham

Spotting and preventing common insert failure modes

Improved parting and grooving

Insight into Sandvik Coromant's new CoroCut QD parting off and grooving tool.

Automated laser boosts productivity

Vac-Con, Green Cove Springs, FL, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sewer cleaning and excavating equipment, producing such products as combination sewer cleaners, jetters, and industrial vacuums.

Voice control for bending

Bystronic has expanded its ByVision Bending user interface with voice control.

Ontario firm invests in Canada's 1st full production 3D facility

An Ontario manufacturer is investing $11.5 million to establish the country's first full production additive manufacturing and advanced manufacturing centre.

Shop doubles tool life and cuts costs

A US shop has doubled tool life and cut overall machining costs by introducing a new toolholder system from Haimer USA into its operation.

Machining hardened steels

OSG's XOPRO WHO-Ni drill series can handle the heat when processing Nickel Alloy, Inconel 718 and other hardened steels.

Stay In Touch

twitter facebook linkedIn

Top