Manufacturing 4.0 Has Arrived

Locations that have diversified their high-tech growth sectors are well-positioned to thrive in a new age of manufacturing efficiency. The factory of the future has arrived, a.k.a. manufacturing 4.0.
Locations that have diversified their high-tech growth sectors are well-positioned to thrive in a new age of manufacturing efficiency. The factory of the future has arrived, a.k.a. manufacturing 4.0.

Manufacturing 4.0 Has Arrived

Locations that have diversified their high-tech growth sectors are well-positioned to thrive in a new age of manufacturing efficiency. The factory of the future has arrived, a.k.a. manufacturing 4.0.

Manufacturing 4.0 Has Arrived


The province of Ontario continues to be Canada’s manufacturing heartland, home to the nation’s advanced manufacturing supercluster, and accounting for almost half of the country’s manufacturing GDP.

Ontario is the largest economy in Canada, with a GDP twice that of Quebec, Canada’s second largest economy. Major exports are automobiles, mechanical equipment and electric machinery. It is Canada’s leading manufacturing province, accounting for 12.4 percent of the country’s manufacturing GDP. After California and Texas, Ontario has the most manufacturing employees of any jurisdiction in Canada and the United States.

Sitting at the center of this advanced manufacturing universe is the city of Mississauga. Canada’s sixth-largest city develops world-class products for blue chip clients from around the world. The city is a leader in aerospace and automotive with rapidly growing cleantech and food and beverage sectors.

A key focus for the city of Mississauga, says Bonnie Brown, executive director of economic development for the city, has always been supporting high-growth companies. “We are dedicated to advancing innovation and collaboration within our industries. We are here to help high-growth companies get to the next level.”

The southern Ontario city is located between New York and Michigan on the outskirts of Toronto with a population of more than 770,000 and growing.

It is home to Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada’s busiest airport, as well as 98,000 companies that include 1,400 multinationals and 76 Fortune 500 corporations. The city generates $60 billion a year in economic output—about $77,600 per person—compared with $65,000 per person for the province as a whole.

“Whether it’s improvements in robotics or research or exploring export market opportunities, our local staff works one-on-one with them to help them succeed,” she said.

Walter Garrison, Advanced Manufacturing Business Integrator for the city, explained.

“Our business-to-business connections provide leadership and direction for each sector. Whether an expansion, site selection for a new project or customized training, that one-on-one local connection helps makes things go smoothly.”

The work pays off, he said, with manufacturers recently announcing several expansions, including MHI Canada Aerospace opening a new 206,000-square-foot facility; Hilti Canada, maker of specialty power tools, drills and fasteners, expanding to a 60,000-square-foot distribution center last fall; and Magellan Aerospace relocating into a new 236,000-square-foot facility for its aerospace defense work. Magellan produces complex assemblies and systems solutions to aircraft and engine manufacturers, and defense and space agencies worldwide. The recent expansion is helping to make the repair and overhaul work that the company does more efficient.

“We also work hard to leverage our educational institutions and businesses to build our knowledge economy by encouraging STEM programming in secondary education,” Garrison added. Most recently, he said, Mississauga hosted the LEGO robotics and coding camp, opening up the fun of science, technology, engineering and math skills to students as young as eight years old.

Soon, the city will be home to Canada’s National Research Council’s (NRC) Centre for Excellence Advanced Manufacturing and Materials. The advanced materials research facility is the NRC’s first physical research presence in the greater Toronto area. The new facility, whose first phase is scheduled to be completed in early 2020, will act as a catalyst to accelerate the development of advanced materials technologies and their commercialization in disruptive new products.

“The growth and prosperity of advanced manufacturing is a priority for Mississauga, and we will continue to work together to build and grow a sustainable and connected ecosystem,” Brown said.

The city has established itself as one of Canada’s advanced manufacturing hubs and is an integral part of Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, one of five dense areas of business activity dedicated to innovation, science and economic development.

The Ontario-based advanced manufacturing supercluster aims to facilitate collaboration between the tech and manufacturing sectors, using technologies such as big data and the Internet of Things to scale up production and improve efficiency.

The Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster (Ngen) administers the Advanced Manufacturing supercluster, working to build up next generation manufacturing capabilities. Strategically located in the heart of the country, the Supercluster takes advantage of Ontario’s pipeline of advanced manufacturing companies and talent.

The first project in the Advanced Manufacturing supercluster was announced last August. NGen approved Supercluster funding for a transformative $4.2-million project led by iVexSol Canada which is developing an advanced manufacturing process for lentiviral vectors. These gene-editing reagents are critical components in the manufacturing processes of cell and gene therapies (CGTs). In the last two years, Canadian and U.S. regulators have approved the first CGTs for market release which, along with approved clinical trials being conducted in Canada and the U.S., are showing positive results in treating a variety of conditions, including leukemia. “Advanced technologies are not just leading to the development of new life-saving therapeutics; they’re opening up new ways to manufacture biomedical products. This project shows how advanced manufacturing leads to more investment and high value jobs in Canada,” said Jayson Myers, CEO of NGen Canada, when the funding was announced.

NGen will provide $1.89 million in Supercluster funding to the project, which is expected to create approximately 470 jobs.

Supercluster projects are to be matched dollar for dollar by the private sector and are expected to create 13,500 jobs over 10 years and add $13.5 billion to the Canadian economy. The government announced the $950 million strategy in 2017; five superclusters were announced in 2018: AI supply chain, advanced manufacturing, digital technology, ocean and protein innovations.

Additionally, Ontario’s Advanced Manufacturing Consortium, which was first established in 2017, works to facilitate valuable connections between advanced manufacturing companies and research facilities at three top Ontario universities. Through the consortium, companies can access technical expertise in several fields, including Industry 4.0, automation and robotics, clean technology, additive manufacturing and much more.

The Downsview Aerospace Innovation and Research institute (DAIR) in Toronto is a partnership between major aerospace companies and post-secondary institutions to develop a physical hub with the goal of increasing collaborative research and development, accelerating technology adoption and addressing the project skills shortages in the aerospace industry.

Outside of Toronto, advanced manufacturing also is booming. Burloak Technologies, a division of Samuel, Son & Co., opened its new $104-million Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Oakville, Ontario.

The center will enable customers to develop concepts through to full-scale production for 3D printing.

Interested in corporate expansion for advanced manufacturing?

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