All posts filed under: Volume 4, Issue 4 – Spring 2020

We’ve never had it so good!

A word from Ron Koslowsky, Divisional Vice President with Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters in Manitoba Manitoba is celebrating its 150th year as a province, and as I write this note, we are heading into Louis Riel Day recognizing a controversial founding leader in this region. Early Manitobans could not have imagined how unbelievably well off their offspring living 150 years later would be. We’d do well to take stock of what we have. Today, our lives are not about hard, long hours worked each day just to survive, but of previously unheard-of guarantees and rights for every citizen who lives in infinitely better conditions. The Industrial revolution fostered by great thinkers about openness in politics and economics allowed people the freedom to explore new ideas and deal across borders, creating massive improvements to individual lives and societal progress. Today, when surveyed, people tend to romanticize the past and feel things are getting worse, prompted largely by having instant access to ‘news’ which is typically focussed on the sensational negative occurrences or extreme views across the… Read More

Four years already?

It might be our birthday, but we’re celebrating you! By Jeff Baker We humans sure are funny animals. We read significance into a lot of situations and circumstances that just happen, whether or not we do anything at all: birthdays, anniversaries, Fridays, sunrises and sunsets, the Oscars… et cetera For most of these things, it’s basically a celebration of another trip by our ball of space rock around a giant gaseous fusion reactor. We’re beyond insignificant in this picture. But maybe the truly amazing thing is that we can make these things a big deal, and we can keep making them big deals year in and year out. In this case, I’m going to make a HUGE deal of one birthday in particular: Prairie Manufacturer’s! Yes, it’s true… this issue marks the fourth birthday of Prairie Manufacturer Magazine, and we couldn’t be happier to have you a part of this auspicious occasion.  Maybe it’s a birthday, maybe it’s technically an anniversary, but since I’m the editor and the chief wrangler of all the words… I’ll… Read More

Transitions: paying it forward

Manufacturing leader shares his story about getting into, and out of, the manufactring sector By Scott Keddie Well to start this story, it’s best to go back to the beginning. As a young lad growing up on the Prairies and in northwestern Ontario, I was lucky enough to spend time on farms and doing lots of outdoor activities including snowmobiling starting in the early 1970s. I basically grew up with the sport of snowmobiling as it developed, and I’m still very involved with it to this day.  When it came time to start choosing a direction in adult life, I went into engineering with the sole purpose of designing new snowmobiles. So, I enrolled in the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Engineering in 1981. Around my second year, a new program was starting up in the field of Industrial Engineering. I remember sitting through an introductory overview of this program, and I made my choice to take this route based on two things: one, I liked building things, and two, I liked working with people.… Read More

Manufacturers need new strategies to overcome labour market challenges

By Jayson Myers Last year, 1,798,000 Canadians were either employed or looking for a job in manufacturing. That’s 37,000 fewer than in 2010, the year when Canadian industry began to recover from its deepest recession in 80 years. Meanwhile, Canada’s total labour force expanded by 1,750,000 or by almost 10 per cent over the past decade. Manufacturers may be doing more with fewer people, but they are also losing ground in attracting potential employees. In 2019, 1,730,000 people were employed in Canadian manufacturing and 96.4 percent of everyone looking for a job in manufacturing were actively employed. Canada’s manufacturing unemployment rate was 3.6 per cent, much lower than the 5.7 per cent rate for the economy as a whole. But there were only 22,000 more people working in manufacturing last year than 10 years earlier when, in the aftermath of the recession, the unemployment rate in Canadian manufacturing was twice as high.  Contrast that with the Canadian economy as a whole. There were 2.1 million more people working in Canada last year than in 2010.… Read More

Developing a Return to Work Program

By Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba Every year, more and more businesses are seeing the tremendous upside of implementing a Return to Work program in their workplace.  There are a variety of reasons. Return to Work is good business. It minimizes WCB claims costs, it can reduce the cost of training replacements and can help maintain productivity.  For others, it’s complying with legal responsibilities. There’s legislation around re-employing injured workers that applies to organizations with more than 25 workers. They do it to remain compliant.  More often than not, it’s moral. Employers feel a duty to their employees and are compelled to help them get back to work as quickly and safely as possible. What many employers are also discovering is that a lot of workers see the value in it as well.  Workers who take part in a Return to Work plan: • recover more rapidly from their injuries • maintain their job stability  • get back on track sooner and with less uncertainty about the future. Having a program in place that anticipates… Read More

Manufacturing Manitoba’s Future

Manufacturers old and new are making a bright new tomorrow By Jeff Baker Love and marriage. Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. At least according to Frank Sinatra, in his 1955 hit single (but maybe more of us know this from the opening theme to the sitcom Married… with Children). Perhaps, though – and just go with me on this – he actually meant to say manufacturing and Manitoba go together like that proverbial horse and carriage. Since the birth of Manitoba in 1870, and even well before that, manufacturing has been a part of the life of the province and its people. The Indigenous people who have called this land home for thousands of years have manufactured goods of their own from the resources both at hand and gained through trade – fur clothing, animal hide shelters and clothing, stone and metal tools and utensils, artwork, food and drink, and lots more. Even in the times of the Northwest Company and the Hudson Bay Company, manufacturing was part of daily… Read More

Skills 4.0

Another industrial revolution is upon us, but are our people ready? By David Quinn Let’s start at the very beginning. Flip open a history book, and you’ll probably see mention of the Industrial Revolution (what we now know as the First Industrial Revolution). It was a period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840, during which industry transitioned from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing methods, and iron production processes. Use of steam power and waterpower increased significantly, as did the development of machine tools and the rise of the mechanized factory system. Accompanying this shift in industry came an unprecedented rise in the rate of population growth across Europe and North America. Then, in the period from about 1850 into the 20th century, came the rise of mass production of products such as steel, chemicals, petroleum refining, and eventually the automotive industry. In this time, around the 1890s, we started to see the creation of the world’s first giant industrial corporations, including U.S. Steel, General Electric, Standard Oil, and Bayer.… Read More

Women in Manufacturing

Mind the gap By Carrie Schroeder Decades of research points to a gender wage gap in Canada – one that as a country, we’re sadly failing to close. On average, Canadian women earn 87 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. The reasons behind the gap are complex and rooted in social norms, gender roles, and career choices, but the fact that remains that the decision to have and raise children is part the issue. In short, we have a mother (and father) of a problem. At the same time, manufacturers continue to identify labour shortages as a key concern for their business performance heading into the first few quarters of 2020. A recent CME survey of more than 225 manufacturers across Canada delivered results that are less than surprising: 85 per cent of manufacturers struggle to fill vacancies. Labour and skills shortages are holding back manufacturing, and by extension, Canada’s economic prosperity.  It’s one thing to be experiencing a labour and skills shortage, but it’s another issue entirely if companies are not… Read More

The Joy of Flying to Heights and Distances Previously Unimaginable

By Richard Sheridan After centuries of trying and failing, we finally discovered the relevant principles of powered flight and, in just a few short years, we were able to fly to heights and distances that were previously unimaginable, even for those who invented the airplane. Companies and teams want to fly My managerial and leadership career that began in my 20’s and 30’s felt like the equivalent of strapping feathered wings to my arms every day while trying to get the teams I was leading off the ground. I would come home tired from the effort and mentally exhausted from the lack of results. By my mid-30’s I was burning out. I was convinced there had to be a better way. My optimism was fueled by authors like Tom Peters and Peter Drucker. Their books convinced me that the pursuit of joy in business was a worthy and practical pursuit. A company that discovers the relevant principles of organizational flight can also fly to heights and distances that were previously unimaginable and, in doing so,… Read More

With Jeff Lester, president of SafeCare Canada

What are some signs that an employee might be impaired at work? Work place impairment falls under a number of categories. In order to correctly assess an employee who may be impaired at work, we have to look at several factors such as behaviour, unusual actions, speech, balance, and odours.  It can be easy to tell when someone is not themselves and is acting differently. Of course, there could be other underlying circumstances behind the behaviour, such as new prescription medications, relationship breakups, or even a death in their family. Even though these factors are not impairment from drugs or alcohol, they can be just as dangerous because your attention is not focused on the work at hand.  The most common ways to tell if there is impairment in the workplace and if there is a risk to other employees is if there is non-compliance with safety practices and policies are near miss accidents, information from other employees concerned for their safety, or recognizable changes in behaviour.  Some common signs of impairment are slurred speech,… Read More

Safety: it’s a team effort

If safety doesn’t permeate every level and every position in your company, are you really that committed? By Steven Hnatishin Every company is either leading or lagging in terms of safety and health. They’re either proactive or reactive. (Hint: you want to be proactive when it comes to safety!) Regardless of your starting position, the pathway from reactive to proactive is a team effort. Transforming your company and its workforce into a more efficient, effective, and cohesive unit must include the involvement of safety and health for your teams. The current state might include responsibilities misguidedly landing on the shoulders of a single designated health and safety person. This individual is performing inspections, investigations, creating safe work procedures, creating policies, and maybe even doing a ‘regular job’ on top of all that. This is not only non-compliant with safety legislation, it’s not supportive of a strong safety culture in your company. If we design our safety systems so that only one person owns and is responsible for them, we can end up isolating the safety… Read More

Part 1 in a 4-part series focused on NRC Technology and Innovation

Innovating in the Heartland The National Research Council of Canada is increasing opportunities for collaboration to build on Manitoba’s reputation for innovation By Vance Chow In recent years we’ve begun hearing more about the concept of Industry 4.0 – a broad term referring to the growing industrial trend of adopting automation and digital technologies. It includes concepts such as the Internet of Things, machine-learning, cyber-physical systems, and advanced manufacturing, often supported via artificial intelligence. But if you’re a manufacturer, how do these concepts apply to you and your business? If you’re confused, don’t worry – you’re not alone. “In fact, a lot of Canadian companies are struggling with this digital transformation,” says Mike Kilfoil, Program Director for the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Advanced Manufacturing Program. “They hear a lot about it. But how will these new technologies provide value to their production systems? The NRC plays a key role in helping companies to integrate leading-edge technologies into existing manufacturing processes so that they can be adapted to the new realities facing industry today.”… Read More