Facing future of manufacturing
Doubling output by 2030 the goal.
The head of Canada’s largest industry association said rumours of its decline are premature.
Jason Myers, CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, was in Winnipeg Wednesday to kick off a series of roundtable discussions with Manitoba industry players as part of its recently launched national initiative called Industrie 2030.
Among other things, the initiative’s goal is to double Canada’s manufacturing output by 2030.
While that is the end point, the process in getting there has a number of key elements, including a comprehensive rethink, among other things, about how to integrate and leverage technology for the benefit of manufacturers.
In an interview, Myers said the current contention Canada lags in research and development investment may not be as pronounced as statistics suggest because those statistics are framed around old-fashioned concepts of research and development.
He believes there is plenty of good technology and development going in Canada, but the country needs to spend more time figuring out how to deploy the technology in the marketplace.
"We don’t want to run a consultation to conclude that innovation is important," he said.
"We want to have companies telling us the roadblocks they are facing when it comes to manufacturing new products or bringing new products to market or finding new customers."
Technology is changing the way manufacturers operate, but Myers believes there is a significant lag in Canada regarding the manner in which it is being documented.
He says Statistics Canada’s definition of manufacturing is outdated to the extent it may be underestimating the strength of manufacturing in the country by as much as 40 per cent.
"The way manufacturing is going it is defining itself out of business because fewer are working in production," he said.
"The process is more and more automated, most of the people are working in engineering, technology or software or logistics or quality control or maintenance."
He says high-value customer service and innovative customization is likely the way to go.
Myers spoke at the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters’ Manitoba division’s annual general meeting Wednesday. He praised the success of the Manitoba division for its ability to help manufacturers improve their businesses.
Ron Koslowsky, vice-president of the Manitoba division, said the association does a lot of outreach and has an active, engaged membership.
"We need to engage leading stakeholders in shaping a vision of what our economic future should look like, developing a better understanding of the obstacles that stand in the way along with a plan to overcome them," he said.
This article appeared in The Canadian Press on April 28, 2016.