Skip to content

CAMM, Automate Canada release “Made in Canada” plan for small- and medium-sized manufacturers

Compiled from the results of industry focus groups, the report makes recommendations for changes in skills and talent development, technology adoption and a culture of innovation, and branding and collaboration.

A new strategy developed by the Canadian Association of Moldmakers (CAMM) and Automate Canada is aimed at increasing conversation on “Made in Canada” manufacturing processes for SMEs.

The report, compiled from the results of industry focus groups, provides a list of recommendations and observations from the SME segment of Canada’s advanced manufacturing sector, which the associations say have so far been largely excluded from policymaking conversations. While this report was prepared during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not about COVID-19, the two groups said. Instead, it’s a broader examination of the state of advanced manufacturing in Canada with a focus on small- and medium-sized manufacturing facilities which are the heart of many towns and mid-sized communities across Canada. “The impact of COVID-19 has only further amplified the need for action now,” the groups said.

During the last few years, there have been a number of well-written reports that provide a list of recommendations to support Canada’s advanced manufacturing sector, the groups said, but while these reports highlight important themes – like skills and talent development, technology adoption, collaboration and branding that are priority areas regardless of size – they tend to predominantly reflect the views of larger companies and/or larger cities. The associations cite a 2017 McKinsey report that says a lack of support has led U.S.-based small and mid-size firms to not be able to keep up with the gains of large companies, rendering them unable to invest in new equipment and technologies.

“[McKinsey] concluded that this was a concerning trend that impacts large firms because they face more risk without a healthy ecosystem of domestic suppliers to provide more agility and opportunities for collaboration,” said the CAMM and Automate Canada report. “This prescient conclusion is being played out in Canada.”

The report identifies and makes recommendations for three key themes that reflect the needs and interests of Canada’s small- and medium-sized advanced manufacturing companies: skills and talent development, technology adoption and a culture of innovation, and branding and collaboration. 

Skills and talent development

The objective is to develop a talent pipeline that is skilled, ready and interested in helping Canadian advanced manufacturing facilities to grow and prosper, the two associations say. Methods for doing this include:

  • Increasing the number of apprentices.
  • Increasing the number of companies that participate in Manufacturing Day, which is held annually on the first Friday in October.
  • Increasing the number of disadvantaged groups working in the advanced manufacturing sector, shortening the time required to bring on board temporary foreign workers, and reducing the number of unfilled jobs in the sector.

 Technology adoption and culture of innovation

SMEs need support with the transition to Industry 4.0 and implementing digital transformation plans, the report says. Incentives to “buy Canadian” or develop new products and patents will help to close the productivity gap between Canada and the U.S. The report also recommends:

  • Increasing the incentives to deploy Canadian-made technologies, including “buy Canadian” clauses in government procurement bids; increasing the level of innovativeness at the micro and macro levels, as measured by the number of patents, new product ideas, and new product launches.
  • Increasing the number of companies that have adopted continuous improvement and/or lean management strategies.
  • Increasing the number of robots/cobots utilized in the sector.

Branding and collaboration

The report says that promoting Canada’s advanced manufacturing sector as a source of quality products and innovation is key to strengthening the industry. The report recommends:

  • Developing a coordinated marketing strategy for CAMM, Automate Canada and members to push the “Made in Canada” message.
  • Using messaging and social media to appeal to the new generation of workers; connecting companies through strategic alliances.
  • Ensuring regions across Canada have a seat at the table – not just companies in the GTA, Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa regions – by nominating members for inclusion at policymaking discussions.

The strategy was developed with assistance from the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation, Institute of Border Logistics and Security, Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing, and CAMM and Automate Canada member companies.

The Canadian Association of Moldmakers (CAMM) and Automate Canada: “Advanced Manufacturing is MADE IN CANADA an SME Perspective”.