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Manitoba Virtual Centre of Manufacturing Excellence set to open


Manitoba will soon benefit from an exclusive federal and provincial government initiative designed to make the province’s manufacturing sector more competitive.

 
The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME), Manitoba Division, will use $4.2 million in new government funding to increase its staff so it can assist Manitoba firms in gaining access to best-in-class solutions for technology, trade and human resource development.
 
The new three-year program, called the Virtual Centre of Manufacturing Excellence, is essentially a continuation of a previous program called the Advanced Manufacturing Initiative, which focused on lean manufacturing. 
 
"The Advanced Manufacturing Initiative laid a great foundation," said Roy Cook, chief operating office of Winnipeg’s Monarch Industries and national chairman of the CME. "But technology and trade are key expansion areas of the future. For instance, we all know about the problems of labour availability. Technology can expand capacity without worrying about labour availability."
 
The new funds will be used by the CME’s Manitoba office to organize seminars and educational opportunities for the CME’s small and medium-sized enterprises and hire a couple of people as trade and technology champions.
 
The plan is to form peer-group consortia, something that has proven successful in its efforts to develop lean manufacturing techniques.
 
"Peer-to-peer makes a huge difference," said Ron Koslowsky, vice-president and general manager of CME’s Manitoba division. "It’s like having an advisory board of 11 companies."
 
Improving productivity is seen as a crucial achievement if the Canadian economy is to become more competitive in the global marketplace.
 
The fact that new federal money to enhance productivity is coming to Manitoba first is a sign that the local manufacturing group has produced positive results in the past.
 
Koslowsky said the makeup of the local manufacturing sector — mostly small and medium-sized firms with few large companies — is conducive to the kind of collaboration the program imagines.
 
"The environment of sharing really helps in Manitoba," he said.
 
The announcement of the new program was made at Precision Metalcraft, a small speciality manufacturing firm with fewer than 100 employees. CEO Kingsley Bowles said his company doesn’t have the resources to be able to thoroughly address all of the challenges it faces.