FABTECH Canada to Host Panel Discussion on the Future of Manufacturing

June 4, 2024
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fabtech-canadaWith Canadian manufacturing eyes focused south of the border on the upcoming U.S. election, a group of industry leaders is sending Canada’s manufacturers a wake-up call. Their message? It’s time to do things differently or Canadian manufacturers risk being controlled or cut off by foreign suppliers.

The topic receives the spotlight during a panel discussion planned for FABTECH Canada 2024, taking place June 11-13 at the Toronto Congress Centre. The session, entitled The Future State of Advanced Manufacturing in Canada, gets underway on June 11 at 2:00 p.m.

Moderated by Stephanie Holko, director, project development, NGen Canada, the panel includes Max Ceron, director, CWB Association, CWB Group; Diane Reko, CEO and chair of the board of directors, Reko International Group Inc.; and François Desmarais, director for trade and industry affairs, Canadian Steel Producers Association

“With the U.S. being Canada’s largest trading partner, these months before the election are creating uncertainty for businesses and historically result in delayed or cancelled capital projects until the election is decided,” Reko says. 

Added to these uncertainties are additional challenges plaguing the industry, including global competition and a shortage of skilled employees.

In fact, according to recent analyses undertaken by NGen, manufacturers will be unable to rely on traditional sources of new labor and skill supply to satisfy their growth. “The only way to remain competitive will be to continue to adopt advanced production technologies that are much more knowledge- and skill-intense but that require fewer, more highly skilled, workers,” Holko says.

What can Canadian manufacturers do to survive and thrive? The panelists agree: Automation and home-grown innovation are critical for Canada to maintain manufacturing and production independence and compete globally.

Technological advancements will also bode well for the future workforce, they say, explaining that younger workers want less “grunt work” and more oversight and responsibility. And while automation requires upfront investment, “new technologies can provide transformational opportunities for cost reduction,” Reko says.

“The key is for Canadian manufacturers to keep their ears to the ground for opportunities to improve the way they do business and interact with customers, staff and suppliers,” adds Ceron. “Ongoing upskill training, digital and professional education, and equipment and process development are essential as part of this processes.”

The panelists also note that greening of the manufacturing sector is critical to maintaining access to foreign markets, especially Europe and the United States

“We’re making good headway, yet there’s much more to be done,” says Desmarais, explaining that the steel sector in Canada is leading the transformation and contributing to the fight against climate change. “Canadian projects have been announced to address different aspects of our footprint, such as energy consumption and new technologies to produce greener steel, and while these initiatives are steps in the right direction, partnership with governments is key.” 

FABTECH Canada is organized by event partners SME, the American Welding Society, the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, the Precision Metalforming Association and the Chemical Coaters Association International.

 

See also: Precision Metalforming Association, American Welding Society (AWS) Headquarters, SME Headquarters

Technologies: Management

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