All posts filed under: Volume 2, Issue 3 – Winter 2017

Surviving and thriving in an age of disruption

By Derek Lothian.  This past November, I had the honour of representing Saskatchewan at the Polytechnics Canada National Strategy Group meetings in Ottawa. Between roundtables with cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats, we were fortunate to hear from Dominic Barton, the managing director of global consulting giant McKinsey & Company and one of the most influential figures on the federal government’s 14-member Advisory Council on Economic Growth. I have heard Barton present on a handful of previous occasions, and his speeches tend to pattern around the same message: There are four forces currently transforming the global landscape — and they will impact the very foundations of life and commerce, from where we live to how we do business. Seldom, however, have I found his insights to be so raw, pointed, or relevant to manufacturing. With this issue of the magazine focusing on supply chain excellence, I thought it was an opportune time to briefly look at each of these four pressures and begin a conversation around our own preparedness on the Prairies. As manufacturers, and as… Read More

Canadian manufacturing and the global supply chain

By Guillermo Moreno.  If you have been following the conversation about creating a national energy strategy, you’ve likely heard the argument that a Canada-wide supply chain approach will generate jobs. You’ve also likely heard the argument that it won’t. So often we are quick to assume that any job creation in energy development will only benefit one province or one industry. As the leader of Tenaris in Canada — a global steel pipe manufacturer and service provider for the world’s energy industry with a distinct focus on local operations, I am often asked to explain the value domestic manufacturing provides to our clients. Today, our customers intuitively understand the importance of global competitiveness, but they typically underappreciate the advantages of a local network. As the world becomes increasingly globalized, it’s easy to lose sight of the role the domestic market plays, and the opportunity our local industry has to add value well before the resource is developed. Domestic manufacturing creates value for the customer and Canada. Being local adds value to the local economy. Being… Read More

Growing Alberta’s manufacturing sector makes sense, but it’s not a silver bullet

By Rob Roach.  Alberta’s manufacturing sector tends to be either overshadowed by the province’s oil and gas industry or hailed as a key source of the economic diversification needed to reduce Alberta’s reliance on oil and gas. There is truth in both sentiments, but the reality is more complex. In Alberta, oil and gas extraction is king. The sector accounted for a whopping 27 per cent of the province’s real GDP in 2016 (the nominal figure was 17 per cent per cent due to low oil prices, yet this is still a huge proportion of the provincial economy). Nationally, oil and gas extraction accounted for six per cent of real GDP in 2016. And in Ontario, it was less than one per cent. Alberta manufacturing represented just under six per cent of the province’s real GDP in 2016. While nothing to snuff at, this is clearly much smaller than the output of the province’s oil and gas sector, and explains why manufacturing in Alberta does not get the same amount of attention it does elsewhere.… Read More

Productive by design: How better flow can lead to better results

By Chester Nagy.  Roughly two decades ago, I had the dream of building a new manufacturing facility. Our existing plant was a glorified, 90-year-old dungeon, located in an industrial park near the Calgary Stampede Grounds — dark and dingy, cold in the winter, and sweltering in the summer. Like a lot of buildings similar in vintage, the layout was not designed for the scope of work happening inside it. Once components came through the overhead door, they could usually move in only one direction, even if there was another project or problem holding up the line. After completion, the finished product had to exit back through the same door. To the most layman of observers, we had flow issues, which translated into performance issues — efficiency, quality, profitability, on-time delivery, you name it. Our first eureka moment came when the Government of Alberta began funding a program through Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters that allowed manufacturers to bring in outside expertise to conduct an in-house lean assessment. At the time, lean principles were still foreign to… Read More

#Me Too #I Will

How to promote a respectful workplace By Shereese Qually.  It all started with Harvey Weinstein. This, of course, isn’t accurate in that allegations of sexual harassment against powerful figures certainly predate the October claims against the media mogul. In the weeks and months following, however, we have seen a tide of #MeToo stories flooding the media, and an international conversation on sexual harassment to an unprecedented level. Stories abound across social media of various overt and systemic incidents of harassment throughout many industries and workplaces. In the employment and labour law context, we are concurrently seeing a message to employers that failing to address or appropriately respond to complaints of harassment of any nature is inappropriate and will be met with significant remedial consequences, including significant damage awards. These cases indicate that not only are there significant financial ramifications for employer and high-level managerial harassment (and there certainly are such awards), but there is also significant liability where an employer fails to implement appropriate policies and procedures to address harassment, respond to complaints of harassment,… Read More

Canada’s clean secret

How green technology is revolutionizing the oil and gas supply chain.  By Joanne Paulson.  High-efficiency pulse jet engines burning away harmful emissions. Electricity separating impurities from water. These aren’t wild ideas or futuristic prototypes — they are just two of the latest Prairie-made innovations transforming the way oil and gas producers in Western Canada are operating. While jaw-dropping advancements in technology are nothing new to the resource development supply chain, the pace of adoption has accelerated at an unparalleled rate. Competitive pressures are exerting their full force on the industry, and any advantage extractors and processors can capture — to be more efficient, more productive, more agile, and, with increasing demand, more clean — is a necessary edge that can be the difference between riches and ruin. Dan Wicklum, chief executive of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), a coalition of 10 global giants accounting for more than 90 per cent of the region’s annual production, believes there is no turning back, and that fortune will inevitably favour the bold. “Innovation has been right in… Read More

Rethinking your supply chain as a strategic asset

By Stephen Rogers & Robert Porter Lynch.  For many manufacturers, the supply chain — including both owner production assets and supplier and distribution partner assets — is by far the largest asset it ‘owns,’ and is core to the company’s ability to succeed both financially and in the marketplace. And while the supply chain is a major strategic asset, it is seldom seen or managed as one. Instead, supply chains are often managed as expendable or easily replaceable. Management assumes it will always be there, even when abused. This belief is not only flawed, but also subjects companies to needless organizational risk. To manage the supply chain as a strategic asset, it is important to step back and consider what it is comprised of. Unlike traditional assets, which a company fully owns, the supply chain is both a direct and an indirect asset, much broader and more complex than just its internal component. Let’s examine its parts: Value chain The value chain is an end to end, or E2E, entity. To be managed as a… Read More

Uncertainty, adaptation the name of the game in 2018

By Jayson Myers.  The beginning of a new year: It’s the time when economists and other clairvoyants dust off their crystal balls and pronounce what they see lying ahead for business. You should excuse them this go-round if their forecasts are a little less confident than usual. There are fewer certainties and a lot more risks that need to be considered. 2018 will indeed be a challenging year. The world is out of joint. That may not exactly be news in today’s Trumpean Twitterverse; but, the very fact that it’s not emphasizes how uncertain and risky things actually are. A tweet can bring on a sea change in popular opinion. No less so in the world of business where markets, manufacturers, and supply chains are facing far greater political volatility and more rapidly shifting expectations on the part of customers and stakeholders than ever before — all on top of the more usual but still highly risky disruptions caused by economic and technological change. ‘Business as usual’ in the sense of steady-state growth has been… Read More

The commodity conundrum

Prairie Manufacturer Magazine looks at which resources are up, which are down, and where they are trending in the months ahead.  By Joanne Paulson.  Jayson Myers, former president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, once quipped, “There are only three ways to generate new wealth in an economy: You can grow it, you can extract it, or you can manufacture it. Everything else is a trickle-down from that wealth creation.” In Western Canada, our economic and social wellbeing is intrinsically linked to all three — often more directly than most other global jurisdictions, through interdependent value chains. As a basic example: The world needs to eat. By 2050, humanity must produce more food than in the previous 10,000 years combined. And, to meet that demand, farmers are becoming increasingly efficient, yielding more crop on fewer acres. That requires fertilizer derived from Prairie potash, mined using Prairie equipment, to grow crops planted and harvested using Prairie agricultural implements, which then supply Prairie value-adding processing facilities before export. All these activities, meanwhile, are reliant on Prairie-extracted… Read More

With Stephen Heckbert, public relations professor and executive advisor

As my business is growing, our organization is in transition, and many of our new recruits are under 30. Should I be worried about hiring millennials? Many organizations have expressed concerns about the differences between millennials and others in their workforce — fears, from my experience, I believe are unfounded. The main difference for your organization is that millennials want to know, on day one, what impact their work is having on both the business and society as a whole. The ‘triple bottom line’ is now the equation that matters. So, you will need to improve communication to ensure your new staff understand how what they do is making a positive contribution — but that improvement in communication will be of benefit to your entire organization. But I’ve heard millennials are more stressed out and, therefore, harder to manage? The challenge for all young people in today’s world is that all they know is change; and, like many of us, sometimes we’d prefer the constant change to stop. Millennials, however, are more adaptable and more… Read More