All posts tagged: Latest Issue

Make the best of things by making the best future

Manufacturers make tonnes of amazing things, so why can’t the future be one of them? By Jeff Baker We humans are weird creatures. We tend to find comfort in patterns and symmetry. We seem to seek those things out in our entropic world, and we often assign some sort of meaning to these instances or happenings. Think about it for a second. There’s something weirdly satisfying about watching your car’s odometer flip from some variation of 99999 to 00000, or topping off at the gas pump to a whole dollar amount, or maybe it’s synching up Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon album with the 1939 classic movie, The Wizard of Oz, and watching the magic happen. Okay, that last one might not be for everyone, but it’s a heck of a way to spend a rainy afternoon. An auspicious occasion My point is that we’re on the verge of one of those moments: the numbers denoting the year on our calendars will change from 2019 to 2020. It’s the rolling over of… Read More

Lessons in Leadership

By Alison Kirkland In September of this year, I took on a new role as the CEO of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC). Established in 2011 by the CEOs of organizations that support women entrepreneurs, WEOC is dedicated to the success of women business owners across the country. Until this year, it had been run on a volunteer basis by the inspired women who form the board. In April 2019, funding from the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy enabled the board to formalize the organization with the establishment of a national office. Assuming the role of CEO and establishing a fully staffed national office has been a big undertaking and there have been plenty of moments of self-doubt; of wondering what I had let myself in for by leaving a very comfortable position to take on something so new and as unformed as an entrepreneurial start up. As I searched for inspiration to write this article, I naturally went to the internet and Googled ‘leadership’. There were countless links ranging from key characteristics of successful… Read More

The Changing Face of Western Manufacturing

By Jayson Myers It’s been a turbulent time for prairie manufacturers. Low oil prices and the contraction of capital investment activity in the energy sector, trade problems with the United States and China, difficulties in getting pipelines built – all these factors have acted as a drag on manufacturing activity in Western Canada. The turning point was in 2012. Since then, manufacturing sales across the Prairies have lagged behind those in the rest of Canada. The value of goods produced and shipped by prairie manufacturers increased by 11.8 per cent from $101.9 billion in 2012 to an annualized $113.9 billion in 2019. In contrast, manufacturing sales in the rest of Canada rose by 19.4 per cent over that same period of time. Manufacturing activity has been especially strong in Ontario and Quebec. As a result, manufacturing sales across the country are on track to exceed $691 billion this year. With sales growth slowing, prairie manufacturers now account for 16.5 per cent of Canada’s manufacturing output, down from 17.4 per cent seven years ago. It doesn’t… Read More

Game Changers

Brought to you by Pinnacle Do you want to ensure your cherished memories survive for generations? Get them in print. That’s the advice Lifetouch Plant Manager, Brian Klassen, gave when meeting with Rhae Redekop, Executive Recruitment Consultant at Pinnacle. We’re talking about the Game Changers that are leading initiatives to evolve 160 years of technology to meet the demand of 8 million photos per year for what is traditionally known as “Picture Day.” “I think one of the difficulties in our industry is what I would call the Digital Dark Age. Your cell phone has a wonderful camera. But you’re not going to get as good an image, background choices or professional lighting as we provide. Where we add value is in quality and convenience. 97% of our photos ship within five days.” Maureen Drummond, Director of HR Canada adds, “Since our merger with Shutterfly, we can now put those memories on a whole host of other things like pillows, ornaments, calendars and memory books.” RR: To start, I would love to hear how each… Read More

Managing the Costs and Causes of Workplace Injury We love hearing from Prairie Manufacturer readers, through email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even face-to-face. You share with us the issues that are top of mind for you and your organization, and we work to bring you information and experts to help keep you on top of your game. Ask & Answered is your opportunity to share the questions that keep you up at night. Prairie Manufacturer will seek out subject matter experts to answer your questions and help your business thrive. In this issue, we spoke with Dorotea Cassels, Senior Physiotherapist, Work Injury Management Team, at The Wellness Institute in Winnipeg, about managing the costs and causes of workplace injury. Prairie Manufacturer (PM): What does sick leave cost an organization? Dorotea Cassels (DC): Financially there are WCB costs, wages paid to absent and replacement workers, and administrative costs. Productivity or delivery delays result in dissatisfied customers. Workplace culture is affected by an increase in stress and workload on present workers. Safety and quality may be affected… Read More

Manufacturing vision… 2020 and beyond

Shorthand for perfect vision, is 2020 the beginning of a new clarity for manufacturers? By David Quinn Cleopatra, the last Queen of Egypt, lived nearly 500 years closer to the release of the iPhone than to the construction of the Great Pyramids of Giza. It took humans less than 63 years to advance from the first successful powered flight of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk to having people land on the Moon. Oxford University in the United Kingdom was founded in 1249, nearly 100 years before the start of the Aztec civilization at Tenochtitlán in present day Mexico in 1325. And perhaps most mind-blowing is that everything you see today – right at this very moment – has happened in the past, not the present. This is due to an inherent processing lag of our brains and optic organs of about 50 milliseconds. By the time you actually ‘see’ something, it’s already happened and has probably moved on. So, what does all this have to do with manufacturing? The changes we see happening in… Read More

Manitoba Aerospace honours industry excellence

On November 28, 2019 Manitoba Aerospace held their 18th annual Aerospace All-Stars Awards of Excellence in Winnipeg, recognizing recipients for their achievements in the aerospace and defence industry. The event recognizes partners or individuals involved in or with the aerospace industry who have demonstrated excellence in a variety of areas from leadership to business growth. Award winners are nominated by their industry peers. “The annual All-Stars Dinner is an ideal forum for recognizing contributions to our aerospace community,” said Ron Drepaul, Chairman of the Board for Manitoba Aerospace. Three recipients were recognized this year for their outstanding achievements: Award of Excellence for Education & Training – Carolyn Geddert, University of Manitoba Faculty of Engineering Award of Excellence for Team Work and Business Growth – Approved Maintenance Organization Fleet Expansion Project Team Keewatin Air LP Award of Excellence for Technology Development – RADARSAT Constellation Mission Satellite Team Magellan Aerospace, Winnipeg Helping students and industry take flight “The All-Stars Dinner is also a major fundraiser for the Manitoba Aerospace Student Endowment Fund, said Drepaul.” “Through the generous… Read More

The New Beat of Alberta

The music has changed, but Alberta manufacturers are already grooving to a new rhythm By Jeff Baker Since Alberta’s establishment in 1905, its economy has always been export-oriented and export-dependent. With a small internal market located in an economically isolated region, industries of all sorts have relied on transport connections: rivers, rails, roads, air, and now the internet. From day one, Alberta’s economy has been one of volatility – booms and busts – with certain economic sectors taking the lead in development, production, exports, income, and then the inevitable downsides. From furs to grains to beef In the early days, when the Hudson Bay Company and the Northwest Company ruled the roost, fur was king, and commodities travelled by birch-bark canoes, York boats, and Red River carts on buffalo trails to the ports of the east and west. With the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 19th century, in-migration became tremendously easier, and this led to one of the first dramatic shifts in Alberta’s economy: from fur to grains and animal products.… Read More

just ask…Diversity and Inclusion

By Kimberley Puhach What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term diversity? You might initially think of ethnicity then perhaps gender. This is likely due to the focus on employment legislation dating back to 1986 with the federal government’s Employment Equity Act. This law was intended to increase representation and create equity for groups that were under-hired and underrepresented. Women, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous peoples are considered as part of this legislation to this day. Additionally, human rights legislation also provides protection from discrimination for protected groups as defined within the federal and provincial human rights laws. Fast forward 33 years. What does diversity and inclusion mean today, and how are we doing? I think we can agree that some progress has been made but there is still plenty left to do, including understanding the importance and value proposition for employers, employees, job candidates, citizens (current and future), and Canadian society at large. Diversity has – or at least should have – moved beyond legislation now that we… Read More

Harnessing the Power of Influencers

By Carrie Schroeder Manufacturing offers high-quality jobs with incredible opportunities for advancement. These jobs provide individuals across a wide range of educational backgrounds and professional interests lucrative and personally rewarding careers. Through extensive consultation and a nationwide survey, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters produced a summary paper, entitled Untapped Potential: Attracting and Engaging Women in Canadian Manufacturing. Over half the respondents stated that one of the main reasons there are relatively few women in the manufacturing workplace is that school-aged girls are not encouraged to consider manufacturing as a career option. Moreover, when asked how to attract more women to manufacturing, the top response – by a considerable margin – was to improve efforts to encourage girls to enroll in STEM fields and skilled trades programs. The broad perception of manufacturing being dirty, dark, dangerous, and dull continues to exist. As manufacturers, how do we challenge these misconceptions and share the reality that exists in our production facilities today? Further, how do we change the minds of the influencers that help guide the decisions of our… Read More

Alberta promotes healthy and safe workplaces

By Jody Young All workers should be able to come home safely at the end of their workday, from the first shift right through to retirement. That becomes more possible when government, employers and workers collaborate to create healthy and safe workplaces. A combination of best practices, education, awareness, and compliance with occupational health and safety (OHS) laws helps achieve that goal. By taking actions before an incident occurs, workplace illnesses and injuries can be prevented. We are accomplishing this by empowering workers, enforcing workplace health and safety laws, and enhancing partnerships between government and employers. Starting in 2019, the Alberta government introduced a prevention initiative that outlines priorities for the OHS system. The purpose is to align the system and coordinate efforts to battle those hazards that most impact worker health and safety and system costs. The three basic rights Health and safety committees and representatives support the three basic workers’ rights that are a key part of our OHS Act. Workers have the right to know about workplace hazards and how their employer… Read More

Make market exploration a New Year’s resolution

By Derek Lothian This past September marked the second anniversary of the entry into force of the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union. And, in just a few short weeks, on December 30, we will be celebrating the one-year milestone of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Both pacts were heralded as pioneering achievements in global policy — landmark accords that would redefine access to 38 key growth markets and spark unprecedented opportunity for Canadian manufacturers. While it is still far too early to gauge the effectiveness of these agreements, a look at export performance over the past decade is a clear indication of the need for Western Canadian companies to continue to diversify their customer bases. In 2009, manufacturers across the three Prairie provinces shipped a little more than $30 billion in goods to international jurisdictions — roughly 37 per cent of everything they produced. This included $5.3 billion in manufactured food products, $1.5 billion in transportation equipment, and $1 billion in agricultural implements. The… Read More

With Al Amarshi, Director of Eyesafe, with the Alberta Association of Optometrists

How does someone know if their safety eyewear is safety compliant? Be careful! The term ‘impact resistant’ does not necessarily mean that the eyewear is compliant to your provincial safety standards. Look for the following:  The manufacturer or supplier certification mark must be present on all approved safety frames, as well as the side shields and goggle piece. Look for the marking to ensure the frame and accessories meet the criteria for impact resistance. With Eyesafe, the frame will bear the label CSA Z94.3 (or ANSI Z87.1 if your provincial regulations permit ANSI compliant frames). The manufacturer initials or stamp will be on the lenses, and they must meet CSA Z94.3 standards for impact resistance. To ensure that you always receive compliant safety eyewear, purchase from a reputable eye care provider or program. Compared to regular eyewear, safety eyewear uses stronger materials that are generally shatter-proof and designed to prevent the lens from pushing into the eye. Safety eyewear also provides side protection. Your optometric clinic will choose the right lenses based on your prescription,… Read More

In order to make an omelette, you’ve got to break a few eggs

Disrupting and diversifying the status quo By Jeff Baker Whether it’s ideas, materials, or culture, in order to create something new, you often need to break something down before building or rebuilding. Buildings need footings and foundations; mines break rock to get ore which is then broken down again to get the minerals; metal needs cutting and bending to create machinery and goods. Disruption creates ‘white space’ which is the room needed to create something different, something out of the ordinary; something truly unique. It’s in those spaces, too, where we see a diversity of ideas and possibilities blossom into something outstanding. The people and companies you’ll meet in this issue are working to not only disrupt their businesses and sectors, but the entire world around them for the better. Since the last issue, we’ve heard from a good number of you about the contributors featured and the manufacturing stories we shared from across the region. The positive feedback is great, and it makes all of us at the magazine want to keep doing more… Read More

Sask Polytech helps manufacturers unleash value through collaboration

By Dr. Larry Rosia Disruptive technologies, external factors such as globalization and international trade pressures, and shifting business models are just a few of the things forcing change across many sectors. Manufacturing is no exception. Manufacturers are critically important to Saskatchewan’s economy. According to the Government of Saskatchewan, manufacturing makes up seven per cent of the province’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2017, the most recent year statistics are available, manufacturing shipments totalled $16 billion. The strength of the manufacturing sector is its people, for they are the ones who keep the industry innovative. As part of our mission to educate students and provide skilled and successful graduates, Saskatchewan Polytechnic is focused on ensuring that companies have access to graduates with the skills and experience they need to be competitive. Applied Research Expertise Collaboration is, of course, a key component to innovation. Manufacturers that partner with Sask Polytech are discovering that collaboration has the power to unleash incredible value. This is especially apparent with companies that choose to partner with us on applied research projects.… Read More

Game Changers

Brought to you by Pinnacle “If West Nile kills one person, malaria kills hundreds of thousands every year.” Steve Kroft, President & CEO of Conviron, says as he leans back in his chair with his hands steepled in front of him in conversation with Rhae Redekop, Pinnacle Senior Recruitment Consultant, about the Game Changers within his organization that contributed to 40% growth this year over last. “We had a customer in Maryland a number of years ago, The National Institute of Health (NIH) agency in the US. They were doing research into malaria and needed controlled environments to house mosquitoes infected with the disease. Through strategic questioning we were able to determine that they needed rooms that were a certain level of containment, pressure, temperature and humidity. Mosquitos will go dormant at less than 50 degrees. In the event they escaped the screened cages inside of the rooms, the researchers needed to be able to very quickly lower temperature with the push of a button. Once the bugs were dormant, someone could go in, sweep… Read More

Employer Considerations on Termination of Employment

By Jeff Palamar of Taylor McCaffrey LLP Be Aware The best time for an employer to get legal advice on termination of employment issues is before hiring the employee. The second best time is before the termination actually takes place. Whether considering a termination with or without just cause there are always options, risks and potential costs. With complete control over the timing of things, an employer has no excuse for not becoming well informed before taking action. Termination of Employment Generally An employer can quite properly decide to terminate a non-unionized employee “just because” it wants to do so. It cannot terminate for “illegal” reasons however, such as by discriminating against the employee contrary to human rights legislation or because the employee has exercised rights under some other statute. Typically there is a reverse onus and the employer must prove its reasoning was not illegally tainted. Failing to do this can lead to the employee being reinstated, with back pay and other remedies as appropriate. Termination With Just Cause To terminate with just cause,… Read More

Leadership, Technology, People, and Process: Recipes for the Future of Prairie Food Manufacturing

By Jayson Myers The numbers speak for themselves. Food processing is a major contributor to the economic prosperity of all Canadians. It is the largest manufacturing sector in the country. Food manufacturers produce and ship around $108 billion worth of product annually – that amounts to 15 per cent of all sales by Canadian manufacturers. When input costs are netted out, food processing accounts every year for just over 14 per cent of the total value added by Canada’s manufacturing sector and 1.5 per cent of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product – the total value generated by the Canadian economy as a whole. More than 238,000 people are directly employed by food processing companies across Canada. What’s more, in addition to helping put food on the table for Canadian families, the sector generates over $35 billion in export revenue, with offshore sales going in large part to the United States, China, and Japan. It’s a dynamic industry. Sales have increased by 21 per cent over the last five years, growing twice as fast as for the… Read More

Booming biotechnology

It’s the overnight manufacturing success that’s been millennia in the making By Jeff Baker Biotechnology. Even in 2019, that word alone remains enough to put a shiver down the spines of many people. It can sound familiar-enough, but there’s something behind the term that elicits a hesitance among many. Maybe your mind goes to such popular portrayals as Audrey Junior, the giant Venus flytrap with shark-like teeth from 1960’s cult-classic movie Little Shop of Horrors, or to Peter Parker being bitten by a genetically engineered spider, giving him spider-like abilities and superpowers. Or perhaps you’re thinking of Lee Majors’ portrayal of superhuman strongman Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man, who was rebuilt with bionic implants that enhance his strength, vision, and speed. Better…stronger…faster… Hollywood may make biotechnology seem like a far-off dream, but the sector is real and is helping shape a more prosperous and sustainable future for Canadian industry. What the heck is biotech? The United Nations defines biotechnology as any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives to… Read More

For the health of it

Saskatchewan food manufacturers use innovative technologies to create healthy products including plant-based proteins, nutritional oils, teas and much more By Joanne Paulson Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti, killing more than 500 residents and leaving thousands unsheltered and hungry. The 2016 storm was the country’s most destructive disaster since the 2010 earthquake. The people at Mera Food’s plant protein processing facility in neighbouring Dominican Republic knew what had happened. And they knew what Haiti needed. Food. “It wasn’t so bad where we were, but parts of Haiti were just destroyed,” said Wayne Goranson, founder and owner of Mera Food and its parent company, Mera Group. “Our guys volunteered over the weekend to make extra product, and we loaded up the truck with nine tonnes of food – mostly soymilk – and took it across the border and did distributions in schools, Artists for Peace and Justice, city hall, everywhere we could in the southern part of the island.” Mera Food makes shake-style beverages from soybean and other protein-rich plants such as lentils and chickpeas. Nutritionally, it’s… Read More

just ask…LGBTQ2S+

When there’s a full spectrum of colour, the world is a more interesting and diverse place By Kimberley Puhach The rainbow and the alphabet. What does LGBTQ2S+ mean, and why does it matter that you know? As has been the case with earlier Just Ask columns, this topic comes with so much curiosity, and if we are being honest, likely fear as well. It also comes with misunderstanding and, perhaps, judgement. In this article, not being expert myself, I felt it important to share perspectives from folks with lived experience from the community. This would allow for knowledge sharing in a respectful way. Building bridges of understanding and providing a forum for information and healthy dialogue are core to these articles as a start to your own self-education. In that spirit, I took my own advice to just ask. I have the honour of knowing members of the community that represent varied perspectives and lived experience on gender and sexual identity. Three of them were gracious and kind about providing their insights. Cynthia Fortlage was… Read More

This fall will be more about Canadian unity than electing government

By Derek Lothian I’m a huge fan of political fiction. When the first season of House of Cards debuted on Netflix, I remember binging all 13 episodes back-to-back over the course of a single night. All the President’s Men, meanwhile, remains — in my not-so-humble opinion — one of the top five movies ever made. And Selina Meyer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s character in Veep, is probably the best original television persona of the past decade. Don’t @ me. You can therefore appreciate my giddiness when I stumbled across an article a few weeks back from Philippe Fournier entitled, Imagining a federal election without Alberta or Quebec. Some folks drive in from the lake on the August long weekend to restock on beer; I do so to pick up the latest issues of Maclean’s and The Economist. It’s a mystery why I don’t get invited to more parties. I do, though, have friends — honest — several of whom live in the Ottawa bubble, where I spent six years of my professional life. One of the questions… Read More

How Saskatchewan is creating a culture of safety

By Phil Germain In 2008, Saskatchewan had the second worst workplace total injury rate in the country. For every 100 full-time workers, more than 10 workers were injured on the job. Fast forward to today and the province’s workplace Time Loss injury rate has dropped to the fifth highest in Canada. Impressive as this shift is, it doesn’t merit a gold star. However, it does suggest that Saskatchewan is moving in the right direction. Pivotal on our path has been our ambitious goal of Mission: Zero — zero injuries, zero fatalities, and zero suffering. Launched in 2008 by WorkSafe Saskatchewan — the partnership between the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety — Mission: Zero was initially a call to action for employers and workers to prevent injuries and save lives on the job. In 2009, Mission: Zero was adopted by Safe Saskatchewan (the organization that co-ordinates injury prevention efforts in the province) as a prevention goal for everyone to pursue — both on and off the job.… Read More

Good neighbours and global leaders

By Derek Lothian.  The last 12 years of my career have been — in one way, shape, or form — tied to manufacturing on the Prairies. One of my favourite jobs came in my early 20s, overseeing sales and marketing for a small agricultural equipment start-up. It was quintessentially Saskatchewanian: A handful of farmers with no manufacturing experience whatsoever running production out of a quonset to satisfy a growing global customer base. It was one of the few situations where inexperience (and even a bit of ignorance) was an undeniable asset. We didn’t know the ‘right way’ to do things, so we made it up on the fly. Sometimes we got burned; but, more often than not, we persevered. And we were a better, more resilient company because of it. My first hands-on experience with exporting came in 2007. We had just struck a deal with a North Dakota distributor, and there was interest bubbling from potential partners in Western Europe. Concepts I had never heard of before — rules of origin labelling, receivables insurance,… Read More

From plant to pint: Beer, and the case for growing the local value chain

By Mark Heise.  When you think of Regina, Saskatchewan, what do you think of? The Saskatchewan Roughriders? The RCMP Depot? The Italian Star Deli? What about beer? Earlier this year, the Queen City was named to the list of the top 30 beer destinations in the world, joining the likes of Dublin, Ireland, and — of course — the iconic home of Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany. But what has made this place so special? Why are craft beer sales here expected to jump by 30 per cent industry-wide in 2018 alone? The answer isn’t a complicated one: It starts with what goes into the product. I’ll give you a few examples. Take AGT Food and Ingredients — the crown jewel of Saskatchewan’s agri-processing sector, and one of the largest exporters of pulse crops on the planet. At Rebellion Brewing, we bucked tradition and found a way to incorporate AGT’s King Red Lentils (coincidentally, which were developed at the University of Saskatchewan) into what has become our best-selling product, the Lentil Cream Ale. On a much smaller… Read More

Rethinking competitive advantage

Superclusters and economic development.  By David Froh.  Prairie people have always seen the advantages of our wide-open spaces — they are a blank canvas of opportunity. These endless possibilities have fostered a culture where we have become accustomed to creating great things. As you will read throughout this issue of Prairie Manufacturer Magazine, Saskatchewan’s tradition of innovation is more than a century old, and continues strong today. Family-owned enterprises like Dutch Industries, SeedMaster, DOT Technology Corporation, and Degelman Industries literally started in farmyard quonsets, and then expanded to serve global markets. The path to prosperity in this province has always been built upon trade — and that, as they say, takes a village. You need to find quality suppliers, nurture distribution channels, and earn trust with customers. The common denominator is understanding the value proposition and partnering with those that complement the business. Traditional economic development is often thought of as a zero-sum game with winners and losers, where regions fiercely compete for investment, sometimes to their detriment. Such an approach is not sustainable. It… Read More

Quick lessons for the modern lean leader

By Stewart Bellamy.  Looking back now on more than five decades in manufacturing, I often think about just how much more may have been accomplished had I — and the companies I worked with — been exposed to this ‘lean stuff’ earlier. After 20 years as a continuous improvement practitioner, plus countless hours of ongoing personal study time, one thing has become abundantly clear: A lean journey is infinite. The more you learn, the more there is to know. What follows are a few observations from my career on several key elements routinely misunderstood, or not even considered, in many lean initiatives. High quality, quick delivery, low cost — pick any two Have you ever seen this statement posted in a business? Maybe it’s just the unwritten mantra of the owner? Either way, it’s not an uncommon thought. The premise is that you can have high quality and fast delivery, but it won’t be cheap. You can have high quality and low cost, but it won’t be fast. Or, you can have fast delivery and… Read More

The bruises and triumphs of our second-generation succession

By Ryan Sailer.  For us, it never was a decision if we would take over the family business. It’s not like we sat down when we were all 10 or 12 years old and said, “Okay, this is the road map. This is what you guys will be doing; here’s how it will look, and here’s how it will work.” My two brothers and I (Jason, older than me by two years, and Scott, younger than me by three years) generally had an interest in the business. And, when we were still in high school, we always held summer jobs in various positions at the shop. We did everything, from sweeping the parking lot and driving forklift to servicing end-customers’ trailer brakes and unloading trucks. As we grew, we found we shared a passion for fixing problems and things that bugged us. That inherently led us to take on more responsibility year after year. It was around 2007 and 2008 we found our way into critical roles in the business. With this responsibility, we were… Read More

SaskInnov8s

A look at eight Saskatchewan innovations and how they’ve changed — or are changing — manufacturing and the Canadian economy.  By Joanne Paulson.  The innovative spirit of Saskatchewan was a natural outcome of its early days, harkening to a time of ploughs and pioneers. While much has changed, that drive to create — to solve problems — has not. According to the Western Development Museum, Saskatchewan is home to 3,200 patents. Thousands of other unrecorded inventions and process innovations have been successfully commercialized. Some of these advances have led to the genesis of the province’s thriving manufacturing sector — an industry that, through 2017, employed 28,000 people and generated more than $16 billion in sales. And while we can’t tell all these stories in one issue, we’ve selected eight of them we think capture the spirit that has earned Saskatchewan an international reputation for manufacturing and economic ingenuity. Canola & Canola Oil If there has ever been a crop to revolutionize agriculture on the Prairies, it’s canola. Farmers here originally planted hardy grains, such as… Read More

Saskatchewan’s ‘Iron Triangle’ a hub for ag manufacturing innovation

By J. Robert Shanks.  Gifted with a rich farming tradition and 40 per cent of Canada’s arable land, Saskatchewan is synonymous with agriculture in the minds of many. But the reputation belongs with more than farmers alone. The province is also home to a burgeoning shortline and OEM agricultural manufacturing base, which — in 2017 — exported roughly $300 million in product to markets around the world. The strength of the industry is, perhaps, not surprising — especially given that 85 per cent of Saskatchewan’s GDP is generated outside of its high-profile resource sectors. Ag manufacturers have proven to be one of the brightest and most creative stars of Saskatchewan’s economy. Largely composed of small businesses, they have built a sterling international reputation for quality and innovation, and the ‘made in Saskatchewan’ brand is sought after at trade shows and equipment showcases from Red Deer to Germany to Kazahkstan, and everywhere in between. Many of these businesses are located outside of the province’s two largest cities. The rural area east of Saskatoon in particular has… Read More

This ‘family squabble’ may mean finding new friends

The Canada-U.S. trade relationship is on shaky ground — and that may have long-term impacts, regardless of how NAFTA negotiations play out. By Martin Cash & Derek Lothian.  They say you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. So, if the current Canada-U.S. trade rift constitutes — as President Trump purports — a ‘family squabble,’ the question is: Is it time for Western Canadian manufacturers to find new friends? While the world as we know it isn’t coming to an end, the fracture of international trade norms is shaking up traditional business dynamics for many Prairie manufacturers. Yet, the actual macroeconomic impact has been modest — at least so far. According to Statistics Canada, the country’s trade gap in June dropped to $626 million, down from $2.7 billion a month earlier. The bilateral trade surplus with the U.S., meanwhile, hit $4.1 billion — a 24 per cent spike and the largest increase in more than a year. Those numbers came one month after the U.S. imposed 25 per cent tariffs on Canadian… Read More

What’s hot and what’s not in export markets

By Jayson Myers.  It’s mind-boggling how a year that began with so much promise for Prairie manufacturers — and for the world economy in general — now appears to be careering toward trade wars, trade sanctions, and inflation. It was only last year the global economy began running on all cylinders again, after a lengthy hiatus following the 2008 financial meltdown. True, there are still plenty of risks in financial markets, and Canada — along with many other countries — will need to work off record levels of household, private, and public sector debt. But, for the first half of 2018, Canada, the United States, and a majority of the world’s leading economies were in full growth mode. Year-over-year, global trade grew eight per cent in the first six months of this year. Western Canadian manufacturers have had a good start to the year as well. Manufacturing sales for the first half of 2018 were about seven per cent higher than for the same period last year. Exports by Prairie manufacturers are up by almost… Read More

New online platform preaches the importance of safety training

By Derek Lothian.  Ken Ricketts is an avowed safety evangelist. When you first meet Ricketts, the executive director of the Safety Association of Saskatchewan Manufacturers (SASM), it is difficult not to be captivated by his passion. Much like a good Baptist minister, he is compelling in his delivery, articulate and thoughtful with his words, and convincing with his message. Rickett’s crusade is to make the province’s manufacturing sector the safest in the world — zero fatalities and zero injuries. And, although he still has a way to go, if you consider the trending numbers, you can’t ignore he is converting a growing crowd of followers. Between 2014 and 2017, lost-time claims in the industry plummeted by 40 per cent, equating to close to 3,000 more worker days’ worth of increased productivity. No-lost-time claims, meanwhile, dropped by a third. Over that same timeframe, the cumulative cost of injury also edged downward, by 18 per cent. The question is how to sustain and accelerate that momentum. According to Ricketts, finding new ways to connect with shop floor… Read More

Point / Counterpoint

Is preparation for this issue of Prairie Manufacturer Magazine, Editor Derek Lothian and one of our guest columnists, Stewart Bellamy (Page 14), found themselves embroiled in a debate: When it comes to manufacturing, is it lean, Lean, or LEAN? Does it even matter? Can the capitalization of a word actually have real-world, operational implications? Read their thoughts and then you decide. It’s Lean By Stewart Bellamy Is it lean, Lean or LEAN? Many would contend that it’s just a word — that it doesn’t matter. I beg to differ. In this context, it’s Lean, and it’s a term, not simply a word. Let’s start with why it isn’t lean. Consider the origins of the term lean production. It was first proposed in the late 1980s by John Krafcik — a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology research team, led by Jim Womack, that studied automotive production methods at multiple companies across 14 countries. Krafcik was describing the results being achieved by Toyota’s production system when compared to the rest of the pack. Basically, it… Read More

Embracing excellence 2018

  By Laurel Johanson.  It’s fitting that the 2018 Canadian Lean Conference ended with a showstopping Broadway musical number. By the time keynote speaker Paul Huschilt was doing high-kicks across the stage at the RBC Convention Centre’s ballroom to demonstrate the benefits of humour in the workplace, the enthusiastic conference crowd seemed ready to join him. For the end of a week-long conference, there was a surprising amount of energy still in the air. Such was the spirit of the 2018 edition of Canada’s largest lean event, hosted by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Manitoba (CME) every three years. The conference took place June 4-7 this year in Winnipeg, with over 1,000 delegates attending from all across Canada. The scope of the conference had never been bigger, with 15 workshops, 18 plant tours, 36 practitioner presentations, and seven keynote addresses included in this year’s programming. Right from the start, the atmosphere was teeming with energy and enthusiasm from delegates, educators, tour guides, and speakers alike. Take Billy Taylor as a prime example. Taylor, director of commercial… Read More

Can’t we all just get along?

By Derek Lothian, Editor, Prairie Manufacturer Magazine​ The title of Scott Gilmore’s April 19 Maclean’s op-ed is equal parts incendiary clickbait and honest critique of the state of our federation: Canada is not a country. Talk about a headline. “If we can’t build pipelines, move beer, or find some common ground,” he argues, “we may have a fatal problem.” Perhaps more important than a commentary on pan-provincial trade woes, Gilmore dissects the growing list of divisions between Canadian people — in terms of identity, geography, prosperity, understanding, and, heck, even our willingness to understand. It had me thinking about what that means for the future of Canadian manufacturing — not entirely how we make things or how they get to market, but who makes them and whether we will be able to collectively reimagine a supply chain that is more person than product. We write a lot in Prairie Manufacturer Magazine about the emergence of Industry 4.0. This summer issue is no different. And don’t kid yourself: The ability to understand and deploy advanced technologies may very… Read More

Excelling in a world of change

By Ben Voss​ I always like to begin stories with a little perspective on history. I grew up in small-town Saskatchewan at a time when the normal career path was to obtain your education and then leave this great province to pursue your life’s ambition elsewhere. I, unlike many, chose to stay. I remember attending session after session put on by the local economic development agencies and chambers of commerce, which listed off the many reasons why Saskatchewan was a great place to setup manufacturing businesses. Reasonable wages, a skilled and readily available workforce, cheap real estate (often in small towns with low taxes), and low utility rates were all considered attractive reasons to open a factory here. Remarkably, in less than two short decades, those low-cost advantages inverted to high-cost challenges. The boom arrived and, with it, a great deal of opportunity and growth. Changebecame the most popular buzzword in many executive offices. ‘Adapt or die,’ they said. Some have, unfortunately, went the way of the latter. Others have merely survived. But there are… Read More

The smart money is investing in our young people

By Steve McLellan Imagine these situations: Elaine is a recent widow. Her husband did all the banking and, during their 40 years of marriage, she worked, looked after the house, and raised their three children. Now she is the family broker, investment advisor, and budgeter. She is finding the task a challenge. Isaac is a proud, recent graduate of the Saskatchewan Polytechnic CAD technician program and, after 12 years of school and the additional two years of study to get his diploma, he is ready to make some money and start living life. While he has some student loans, he believes that with his newfound income in manufacturing he will soon be in the ‘big money’ and will not have to rely on Kraft Dinner for supper five nights a week. A sure sign of his future success is that he received notice in the mail he’s been pre-approved for three credit cards and has signed up for them all. Susan, meanwhile, moved to Canada from Somalia as a refugee and saw this country as… Read More