Canadian Manufacturing

Top 10 manufacturing quotes of 2021

Here are CM's Top 10 quotes from our interviews and discussions which colour the events of another year in manufacturing.

December 29, 2021  by Madalene Arias

2021 called leaders in Canada’s manufacturing sphere to navigate through supply chain disruptions, labour shortages, new U.S. trade legislation, commitments to reduce waste, to reduce emissions and of course — to manage production in the ever-ceaseless coronavirus pandemic.

Here are CM’s Top 10 quotes from our interviews and discussions which colour the events of another year in manufacturing.

In the spring of 2021, Skills Dynamics CEO David Rajakovich said the coronavirus outbreak was a wake up call for supply chain and procurement management.

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“Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen an immense increase of nearly 250 per cent in training demand. The beginning of 2020 was shocking for everyone, and everything stopped, but managers quickly realized their employees need professional support because of the increase in worldwide remote work.”

Jennifer Green, director at Skills Ontario, Ainishah Hemraj, head of sales at Mosaic Manufacturing, and Melissa Chee president and CEO of ventureLAB all made CM’s list of top Women to Watch in 2021.

Hemraj discussed Mosaic’s growth during the pandemic and the company’s contributions meeting demands for PPE thanks to 3D-printing.

“3D printing has really taken off as a result of the pandemic. Our teams have grown a lot, I know our engineering team increased significantly. Our sales and marketing team has more than doubled…I’m proud to say I was part of a PPE project we worked on with 3 other companies, printing over 17,000 face shields.”

The introduction of Canada’s vaccine mandate implied that companies with hundreds if not thousands of workers on their floors needed technology to ensure proof of vaccination amongst all employees as well as the maintenance of a COVID-free workforce.

In a panel discussion with Executive Director of Global Health Solutions at TELUS, Susan Wooldridge addressed the significance of implementing a vaccine passport system for manufacturers operating outside of Canada.

“You secure the workplace for the good of the citizens and the sake of being compliant to the country. You also do it because the implications of not having a healthy workforce or a safe, secure and healthy workforce means that you’ve got a burden of cost that exists inside of an organization.”

BDO released its 2021 Mid-market Outlook report. BDO’s Managing Partner and Accounting Leader, Daphna Smuckler, said more than half of manufacturers surveyed said they are getting back the ROI they have made towards automation technology.

“I would also say that 50 per cent of mid-sized enterprises within the manufacturing industry really believe their digital transformation initiatives are well aligned with their business objectives.”

In its efforts to become a top player in the global EV market, Canada launched numerous domestic investments. One of them was $18 million to NOVONIX Battery Technology Solutions so that the company could set up a battery manufacturing facility in Darmouth, NS.

NOVONIX CEO Chris Burns spoke to the importance of this investment for Canada’s battery supply chain.

“This investment is about creating a production quantity level of cathode high-nickel materials, but not yet a sellable quantity level. We’re going from the kilogram to the tonnage level of production so it will take a few years to get up and running, but our focus on technology to lower the cost of materials and improve environmental impact will create less of a reliance on China.”

Canadian Manufacturing asked Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole for his thoughts on the electrification of Canada’s automotive industry as well as labour shortages and job creation in this area.

“I’d love to see an ‘Auto-pact 2.0’ to support the EV revolution and Canada show global leadership in rare earth materials and battery production, because we have the materials, we have the supply, and we should have the Americans rely on us as the supplier for both these materials and energy.”

After 5NPlus entered an agreement with AZUR Space, a global producer of multi-junction solar cells for aerospace and tech applications, 5NPlus’s President and CEO discussed how acquiring a company in Germany could still help Canada’s supply chain.

“We will all need specialty semiconductors in the future. Most of the current materials are based out of Asia right now, and we’re trying to build a supply chain with strategic materials from Canada.”

After Ontario announced Phase 2 of its Driving Prosperity program to build a more resilient automotive manufacturing industry, CM asked Molded Precision Components President, David Yeamon whether companies like MPC could handle an EV transition.

“This is right up our alley. One of the huge focuses in electric vehicles is trying to make them lighter and we’re already serving this goal. We’re redesigning metal parts into molded components. Things like battery casings, HVAC systems are all products we can support.”

During EDC Cleantech Export Week, MaRS hosted a panel discussion with cleantech startups receiving support through the Mission from MaRS program. MaRS used the panel to better understand the experiences of companies like BrainBox AI, Flash Forest and Ecosystem whose leaders participated in the discussion.

All panelists agreed that Canada is a tough place to sell in comparison to the rest of the world; moreover, government procurement is slower than necessary. President of Brainbox AI Sam Ramadori said this is an issue across all levels of government.

“There are tax credits, grants and programs being created that aren’t being taken advantage of. Allocation is still being done the traditional way, which is time consuming and inefficient.”

Earlier in the year, US manufacturer Allied Feather + Down opened up a new facility in Montreal, Que. Allied Feather + Down’s VP of Operations Jonathan Uretsky said U.S. President Joe Biden’s ‘Buy American’ wouldn’t deter him from setting up shop north of the border.

“At the end of the day, with the product we’re making, the raw materials are just not available in the US. Whatever we can source locally, we absolutely try to. But when was the last time you ate duck? We have to buy duck and goose feathers internationally, in places where ducks and geese can be found at an industrial scale. So no, Biden’s announcement doesn’t change much for manufacturers like us.”