Onsite: Canadian Manufacturing and Technology Show


What`s next for manufacturing in Canada—a microcosm of the industry in Toronto

The most recent issue of Manufacturing Engineering, a publication distributed by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) featured a story called “This Economy Has a Silver Lining” by contributor John Isrealsson, President of Sandvik Coromant U.S.—a company based in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

If the attendance and vibe at this year’s Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show (CMTS) was any indication, it certainly illustrated that a “silver lining” really does exist in what has been thus far a bleak economic situation. That silver lining presents itself in the form of a pause or break that companies have taken during the recession to figure out how to better run their operating processes and machinery.

Attendance: good. Atmosphere: positive

The CMTS show is organized by SME and is generally well-attended. In 2007, CMTS attracted over 8,000 manufacturing professionals to the show, which was also hosted at Toronto`s Direct Energy Centre in Exhibition Place. In June 2009, SME conducted a survey of the show, and 75 per cent of past CMTS attendees indicated they made a purchase as a result of attending the 2007 show.

This year’s theme was “Reinvent. Grow. Succeed.” and the companies in attendance certainly plan to do just that as the recession wanes and things perk up for 2010. CBJ had an opportunity to attend day one of the four-day show, and it was well-worth the time to speak to hearty companies in the manufacturing sector.

The 2009 show had 500 leading manufacturers represented and featured five technology zones: Machine Tools, Metal Forming, Factory Automation (featuring an Automation Cell live presented by FANUC Robotics and Lincoln Electric), Tooling Supplies & Service and Measurement Technology & Quality Assurance. The show also featured a new Green Solutions program, in which exhibitors focused on products and processes that develop and strengthen environmental positions for companies’ operations.

In his note to conference participants, Executive Director and GM of SME Mark C. Tomlinson said “CMTS 2009 provides a timely and relevant forum to showcase solutions, new ways of thinking and the right forward-focus for industry”. Indeed, one of the highlights of the day was speaking with exhibitors who are helping companies re-invent the way they do manufacturing processes. Christopher Brodnick from Lincoln Electric said that “sometimes, it takes a recession to kick-start people”. He added that the exhibitors at the show all have the know-how to help make business more efficient, but that “it sometimes takes a slowdown in their business to look at efficiencies and where they can automate”.

The previously mentioned article by Isrealsson, as well as commentary from other show attendees, echoed the notion that time has allowed for reflection on the part of businesses.

The message on the floor

Wayne Felker, Regional Sales Manager for A.W. Miller Technical Sales (Canadian division) explained to CBJ that business is picking up: “Quotations are up, we’re selling more machines, and 2010 looks good. For the last while, companies have been investigating machines to make sure they have the right ones, and they’ve been specking out new ones—and 2010 will be the year they make a purchasing decision”.

CMTS also had an Automation Rendez-Vous two-day technology conference that was put together to provide key solutions for manufacturers on industrial process improvement, emerging technologies and partnership best practices. In addition, on the first day of the conference, Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of Linamar Corporation, presented the opening keynote address to conference attendees, sharing with the audience valuable insight into the future of the Canadian automotive manufacturing industry—which, at first glance, has been suffering. But even some conference participants in the automotive industry shared positive messages about the coming year despite 2009’s disappointing performance in the auto sector.

conference, it was jam-packed, which is a refreshing sign of the times, as potential SME members lined up to get more information. Mike Bahreini, Treasurer and Chair of Training and Education attended not only to represent his SME Toronto Chapter 26 at the show, but also to network with members and talk about the future of the industry. “SME’s job is to connect all of the people here, so they can see each other face to face,” he explained. Bahreini went on to say that the automotive industry is looking towards better days. As a tool and process engineer at a Brampton assembly plant, he beams that even as the economy is just picking up pace, “right now we’re extremely busy”.

Coming out stronger on the other side

The year 2009 showed the world that in order to survive a recession and in order to come out of the other side stronger, companies have to believe in the future and in their own ability to diversify and remain adaptable. As Brian J. Hogan puts it in his editor’s note in Manufacturing Engineering: “Without a belief in the future, no one moves, no one puts in the effort required to complete a transition and achieve renewal”. CBJ learned from CMTS attendees how capable the manufacturing sector is of renewing and re-inventing itself. And the future of the manufacturing sector remains foremost with the manufacturing professionals at CMTS this year, and those who will make deals with exhibitors inside and outside convention walls— through to the end of this year and beyond.