Design Engineering

A framework for the future of our manufacturing


General DPN

Canadian manufacturing was hard hit by the global recession. Compared with 2000, manufacturing GDP is down 11 per cent.

Employment has declined by 24 per cent. Yet manufacturing continues to make a critical contribution to the Canadian economy. In order to succeed, Canadian manufacturers need to develop new strategies for competitive advantage.

To help meet this challenge, the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management has released a research paper in partnership with Siemens Canada called The Future of Canadian Manufacturing: Searching for Competitive Advantage.

The challenges facing Canada’s manufacturing sector and policy-makers are complex and multi-faceted. The paper presents a new conceptual framework to help find Canada’s competitive advantage in the global manufacturing marketplace. With this in mind this new framework was designed with the goal of mutually reinforcing strategies to stimulate and invigorate Canadian manufacturing.

“The framework helps to organize the key elements to consider when assessing next steps and a vision for manufacturing in this country,” said Professor Paul Boothe, Director of the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management. “In order to find our competitive advantage we need an over-arching coordinated strategy to revitalize this foundational sector.”


Key elements focus on markets, products and technologies. The framework can be used to consider how firms can identify current and future customers; the importance of determining what products will be in demand; finding novel combinations of inputs and innovative products being driven by strategic collaborations between manufacturing industries and other sectors; and how increased use of software and automation can boost productivity and reduce cost.

The paper demonstrates how the conceptual framework is put into action by senior executives from Canadian manufacturing firms, policy-makers and researchers. This discussion focused on the role of policy-makers, an emphasis on producing high-value-added, high-quality goods and related services, meeting rapidly evolving skill requirements and embracing the new processes like the internet of things to optimize product design and production.

The paper was released just prior to an Ivey Idea Forum on September 10 entitled, Made in Canada? Rethinking Canadian Manufacturing. Boothe and a panel of prominent Canadian business leaders – Robert Hardt, president and CEO of Siemens Canada; Linda Hasenfratz, EMBA ’97, CEO of Linamar Corp.; and Jayson Myers, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) – engaged in an interactive discussion around how Canada can tackle the challenges currently facing the manufacturing industry.


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