RICHMOND, B.C. – A global survey of more than 900 process manufacturers finds that almost half of Canadian respondents (49%) said that pending regulatory changes introduced by the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA – formerly NAFTA) are affecting their business.
In addition, 89 per cent regard the fluctuating import-export regulations as having a “high” or “very high” impact on their strategic decision-making, according to Sage Research.
Despite this challenging business environment, Canada’s process manufacturers remain confident in their ability to control their own destiny, with 86 per cent reporting that they expect to be industry leaders by 2025, reports Sage. Their top three priorities for driving this future success are emerging technology (59%), expansion into new geographies and markets (58%), and research and development of new products and solutions (54%).
The industry’s overall optimism is consistent with the results of Sage’s recent We Power the Nation survey, which found that despite citing “political uncertainty” as the largest barrier to investing in international trade, 64 per cent of Canadian businesses expect the amount of trade with customers and suppliers to increase next year – a higher percentage than their counterparts in either the U.S. (56%) or U.K (49%).
“Despite the headwind that Canadian manufacturers acknowledge, our research reveals a sector more technologically-savvy and confident in its position of international leadership than ever,” said Paul Struthers, executive vice president and managing director, Sage Canada. “With the Fourth Industrial Revolution in full swing, Canada’s manufacturers are taking full advantage of the technologies and skills they need to excel, with half saying uncertainty around CUSMA is making them more likely to invest in technology.”
An industry in transition
The report, entitled “Riding the wave of uncertainty: How process manufacturers are planning for a brighter future in 2019,” depicts an industry aware of its own digital transformation, with 62% of Canadian respondents expecting emerging technologies such as robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), and automation to be the development with the greatest impact on their industry in the next five years
Other key findings from the report include:
- 68% of respondents said they had recent or mature deployments of on-premises enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, with an additional 25% of respondents planned to deploy on-premises ERP software in the future
- 55% had recent or mature deployments of cloud-based ERP software (with an additional 32% planning to deploy it in the future)
- 50% reported implementing advanced and predictive data analytics (with an additional 42% planning to do so in the future)
- 47% reported implementing automation and robotics (with an additional 43% planning to do so in the future),
- 46% reported using IoT (with an additional 44% planning to do so in the future).
“We are encouraged by the industry’s plans to invest in and deploy AI, automation, robotics and other emerging technologies,” Struthers said. “That so many of Canada’s process manufacturers are already taking advantage of the gains technology offers in terms of productivity and efficiency shows that Industry 4.0 is a robust, quickly levelling playing field.”
Questions were asked on a wide range of subjects including business plans and technology adoption, and fielded in American English, British English, and Canadian English and French. A total of 906 qualified individuals (302 in the U.K., 303 in the U.S. and 301 in Canada) completed the questions they were asked. They all had decision-making responsibility at mid-sized manufacturing businesses in an IT or business role.