It’s about connection

By Jeff Baker

Link. Tie-in. Relation. Bond. Association. Attachment.

Call it what you want, it’s all about connection – between people, companies, industries, and regions – and it really comes down to community.

That’s what Prairie Manufacturer has been about since day one. We’re your magazine, about your industry and your community. And we work every day to ensure the magazine meets that remit. 

The entire team comes from a place of community and connection as we build each issue, and we look forward to bringing you the information and insights from industry leaders just like you.

When we sit down to plan out the magazine’s year ahead, we look closely at what we’ve already covered, what stories of interest are out there, and how we can serve the need for industry players of all sizes to connect to others in the sector. And we always have an ear to the ground (or is it eyes on the inbox!) for the story ideas from you, our readers! That’s how we learn about the innovative and creative work taking place in plants across the region. 

Connection is crucial

Last November, you might recall the series of powerful storms – atmospheric rivers, to be exact – that arrived in quick succession on Canada’s west coast. Following a summer of extreme heat and wildfires, these storms lay waste to the infrastructure that connects our largest port facilities to the rest of the country, not to mention cutting off more than three million people from easy travel within the country to points east.

The impact of those storms was quick, harsh, and unprecedented. The broken road and rail links seriously affected supply chains across North America and beyond – from stranding grain exports from the Prairies to a massive backlog of imports of raw materials and components. The disruptions were felt across the board and are still making their presence known in some frustrating ways!

In many ways, these storms and their damage have been a wake-up call for industry – at least they should be seen as such. Questions are being raised about our dependence on imported goods and exports of under-processed goods, and there are discussions about required inventory levels and acceptable lead times. 

With everything that has happened (and everything that could still happen!), it’s worth our while to examine every opportunity to build durability and resiliency into the networks that keep our country running. Maybe that starts with looking at your own supply chains and looking at opportunities to work with a local or domestic partner who could better serve your needs. 

In this issue

From having that experience of disruption fresh in my head (just-in-time, one might say!) I looked forward to exploring the topic of supply chains and supply networks with folks in the industry, learning more about what it takes to be a supplier of choice and/or to make the decisions to contract work out. 

With that discussion of supply chain and the impacts that were felt due to record-breaking extreme weather events, we reached out to the folks at ClimateWest in Winnipeg and their partners across the Prairies to learn how climate change is already affecting the manufacturing industry and what leaders can do to mitigate and adapt in the face of the challenge.

Even with the certainty of climate change and its effects on our region, there’s still a lot of things remaining unknown or uncertain. So, how does a company, an industry, or a region plan for these uncertainties in a way that is responsible and responsive but not over-the-top? Well, there’s a process for that!

When the process and the networks are firing on all cylinders, that’s when the magic really happens… no one outside the system knows it’s working as well as it does!

We’re also shining the spotlight on Indigenous Box, a corporate gifting and subscription box service founded by an Indigenous woman supply chain grad from Treaty 6 Territory. Her passion for supply chain and process improvement are helping her give lift to other Indigenous manufacturers and makers across Canada and share Indigenous People’s history of supply chain development and management.

And last but certainly not least… we’re connecting you with some timely info about a valuable government resource and service provider for businesses across the Prairies. Formerly known as Western Economic Diversification, you’ll definitely profit from learning about the successor organization, PrairiesCan!

The look ahead

Yes, manufacturing is hard work, but the rewards are worth it, but it’s not just about the work. You’ve got to find some time in there for fun, too!

In the next issue, we’ll look at just how much fun manufacturing can be! Whether it’s building toys and games or trucks, boats, and trailers, Prairie manufacturers are helping folks with the creation of their own recreation.

We’ll also keep you in the loop on the impacts of inflation as the economy continues its recovery from the worst of the pandemic, and more great info and intel on the people side of the industry. 

With that, I issue a standing invite to you, our readers, to send along any story ideas or leads you might have. We’re always on the lookout for great stories in all corners of the manufacturing sector across the Prairies. After all, it’s the connections between folks and ideas that make for the most compelling content.

So, for now, I bid you ‘happy reading’ of this issue, and I wish you the best for a safe and productive autumn. 

Until we chat again.