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Advanced Motion Controls has launched a brand-new, educationally-focused contest for students in both Canada and the U.S.This contest, called the Click&Move Motion and Automation De$ign Conte$t, is an extension of the company’s University Outreach program. In this contest, students will work in teams and submit project proposals that attempt solve real world problems of their choosing.  Simply using industry-available tools will allow participants to compete and win monetary awards as well as servo drive hardware.  The purpose is to advance motion control technology and knowledge as provided by educational institutions located throughout Canada and the U.S.The program is divided up into two phases over a typical academic year. The first phase will help students identify problems and solve them virtually, then the second phase will allow them to prove them physically.To learn more, visit the Click&Move Motion and Automation De$ign Conte$t website. Entries for Phase I are due on Sept. 28, 2012, with project submissions due on Dec. 7.
Siemens Industry Automation Division is set to acquire German firm Perfect Costing Solutions, a developer and distributor of product cost management and estimation software for the discrete manufacturing industry. According to a statement from Siemens, the newly acquired company will be assigned to the PLM Software Business Unit. Information on the price will not be disclosed. Perfect Costing Solutions GmbH is a provider of product cost management solutions, headquartered in Goeppingen, Germany. The company has more than 50 world-wide employees. “By acquiring Perfect Costing Solutions GmbH we are adding a key ingredient to our PLM portfolio to help our customers make more informed decisions about their products beginning in the early stages of design and extending across the lifecycle. This acquisition demonstrates how we are continuing to execute our strategy of building our leading position in Industry software supporting the discrete manufacturing and automotive industry in their fierce competitive landscapes. We will be gaining a team of specialists which already enjoys an excellent reputation as a sound, dependable partner and preferred supplier of product cost management solutions,” says Chuck Grindstaff, CEO of Siemens’ PLM Software Business Unit. “Our products support our customers within the supply chain, for example with purchase price analysis as well as in their own value added process with quotation costing and calculations during the development phase. The management decision making is enhanced through transparent and fact based consistent data capture, project history as well as key economic data. This customer benefit will considerably grow within the PLM environment of Siemens,” says Andreas Tsetinis, CEO of Perfect Costing Solutions GmbH & Co. KG.
Health Canada is so secretive about its inspections of overseas drug manufacturing plants that Canadians can't be confident their medications are safe, says a drug policy researcher. Alan Cassels of the University of Victoria said most prescription drugs are manufactured overseas but that Health Canada has released only limited information about its inspections of foreign manufacturing plants after he made numerous inquiries.Cassels said Health Canada has told him only that it conducted 35 inspections between 2006 and 2011, but won't provide data on which countries were involved or the findings.“Health Canada can't tell us what they inspected, what they found, what remedies they made and we have no idea whether the few inspections they did had any effect. So my question is, and I've had this question for many years, why is everything so secret?”He said that while the federal regulator may be influenced by the pharmaceutical industry's desire to protect its proprietary information, he's merely after data related to people's safety.“Essentially, whose team is Health Canada on?”But a spokesman for Health Canada said Monday that it has one of the safest and most rigorous drug-approval systems in the world.Any foreign site that makes a drug product sold in Canada has to meet Canadian standards of good manufacturing practice, Sean Upton, a spokesman for Health Canada, said in a statement.Upton said Health Canada will verify that these standards are being met in a number of ways, including inspection of foreign plants and taking in information provided by mutually recognized inspections conducted by other countries.But Cassels said Health Canada issues warnings about certain overseas-manufactured drugs only when it gets information from the countries that produce them.The agency has also not released data about drugs that are produced in Canada with chemicals imported from foreign countries, he said.“It would shock most people to know that the manufacturing plants in Canada largely use raw ingredients from places like India, China and Puerto Rico and so on, which is not a bad thing, but how often are these plants inspected?”Earlier this year, the Quebec-based plant of the generic pharmaceutical company Sandoz stopped making several commonly used painkillers, antibiotics and anesthetics while it upgraded its manufacturing standards after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration raised concerns.The FDA inspected the site because the drugs manufactured there are used by Americans.At the time, the head of Health Canada's drug directorate said the government would expedite approval of offshore medications for use by Canadians as long as they meet regulatory standards for quality.Cassels said that's all the more reason Health Canada should provide information about its inspections of overseas drug-manufacturing plants.However, he's also concerned that recent government layoffs mean there will be fewer Health Canada staff to conduct such inspections in or outside the country.“You've got a federal regulator that is already seriously undermanned and undergunned and clearly not doing the kinds of inspections overseas that we would expect them to be doing and at the same time laying off people, so even reducing their ability to make sure that the drug supply is safe.”Upton said most of the drugs imported into Canada, or about 80 per cent, come from countries where there is a mutual-recognition agreement for inspections. The signing of these agreements includes an evaluation process to make sure that drug compliance programs from different regulator authorities are equal, he said.Dr. Muhammad Mamdani, a pharmacist and director of the Applied Health Research Centre at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital, agreed with Cassels and said the public needs assurance that their prescription drugs are safe.He said safety standards for brand drugs, versus generics, may be more rigorous because pharmaceutical companies typically assume a huge liability if there are problems.However, Health Canada should still reveal information about its inspection findings, Mamdani said.And while generic drug makers, which benefit from the millions of dollars in clinical trials and research that have already been done, are required by Health Canada to have so-called good manufacturing practice certification, their safety practices must still be scrutinized, Mamdani said.“A company can say it adheres to good manufacturing certification but then you have to do audits. The problem with the audits is how many audits are you going to do? How much money do you have to have? You'd have to fly out to all these countries and inspect all of them on a regular basis and for many reasons, it's not practical or possible.”However, Mamdani said Canada is part of the Pharmaceutical Inspection Cooperation Scheme of about 41 member countries, including the United States, Belgium, Australia, and Czechoslovakia, which share information on inspections so the process doesn't have to be repeated.“I'm not sure how much Canada leverages external groups' evaluations,” he said. “I don't know how many they do themselves.”While it would be nearly impossible to conduct audits of every drug-manufacturing country's plants, “Health Canada should at least disclose what they have done,” Mamdani said.“They should be transparent. And if the drugs are safe, why shouldn't the information be available?”“At the very least, make available to the public a general sense of is the process working and is the drug safe?”—The Canadian Press
Dorner Mfg. Corp. president and CEO Richard “Rich” Ryan died in a motorcycle accident Saturday, Sept. 8, while traveling in the western United States. Ryan, 59, began his career with Dorner in October 2005, when he was hired as its COO. He held that position until this past June, when he was appointed president and CEO following the company’s acquisition by Pittsburgh-based Incline Equity Partners. Under Ryan’s leadership the company more than doubled in size and is known in the industry as the leader in unit handling conveyors. Prior to joining Dorner, he held several executive management positions at Rockwell Automation in Milwaukee.He is survived by his wife Denise and his two sons, Timothy and Colin.
Thirteen Canadian employers – including three manufacturing companies – have been honoured as Canada’s Safest Employers in 2012. The awards, sponsored by Canadian Occupational Safety magazine, were handed out to those employers for outstanding achievements in promoting health and safety in the workplace. The awards covered five different categories, including building and construction, manufacturing, mining and natural resources, services and transportation and utilities.In the manufacturing category, Concord, Ont.-based Fileco took top honours for its health and safety initiatives that include an extensive machine guarding program, comprehensive health and safety training and a culture that supports those initiatives.Medicine Hat, Alta., manufacturer Canadian Fertilizers Ltd. and Mississauga, Ont.-based Kennametal limited were handed silver awards for their work promoting health and safety in the workplace.The awards were handed out at a gala event on Thursday evening at Toronto’s Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex.
Siemens Canada’s unveiled its new corporate HQ, which also officially marked the company’s 100th anniversary in Canada. Robert Hardt, Siemens Canada’s president & CEO, described some of 110,000-sf building’s features, including the pursuit of LEED Gold certification and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Siemens AG’s top man, CEO Peter Loscher, explained the company’s commitment to Canada, which he sees as a growth leader.
Linamar Holdings Inc., carrying on business as Transgear Manufacturing, a Guelph car part manufacturer, was fined $150,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was injured.  On May 20, 2009, a worker at the company's facility in Guelph was trying to determine the cause of a leak in a machine. The worker opened the cage surrounding the machine and went into the enclosed area. The worker had not been told that the area contained exposed parts that were electrically charged. The worker's head came into contact with a charged part of the machine, causing electrical shock and burns.The company was found guilty of failing to provide information about the presence of electrically charged exposed parts in the enclosed area of the machine. The court also found that the company failed to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker on the safe procedure for dealing with a leak.The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace James Ziegler. In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.
Chrysler Canada says August sales are up nine per cent from year ago, their highest mark for the month since 2000. The automaker says it sold 20,569 vehicles last month, up from 18,816 in August 2011.The increase was largely driven by car sales, which climbed 84 per cent from a year ago.Total truck sales increased 1.7 per cent.The strong August sales came as Chrysler Canada and the other major U.S. automakers continue contract talks with the Canadian Auto Workers union.Chrysler workers have voted 99 per cent in favour of strike action if necessary.
With a little help from 3D printing and some robotics, four-year-old Emma Lavelle has overcome the limitations of a congenital disorder and can use her arms for the first time. Using a Dimension 3D printer from Stratasys, Inc., researchers at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Philadelphia were able to create what little Emma calls her "magic arms." The device is a custom-designed robotic exoskeleton that enables her to conquer greatly limited joint mobility and underdeveloped muscles.
Hesse & Knipps, Inc has appointed CWI Technical Sales as its representative for Ontario and Quebec, along with the United States’ East Coast.  The move is part of Hesse & Knipps is the company’s efforts to strengthen rep coverage and customer support for its family of wedge bonders including fine wire wedge bonders, ribbon bonders and heavy wire bonders.“CWI Technical Sales will be a valuable resource in establishing long-term customer relationships in the Eastern portion of the United States and Eastern Canada, especially the emerging Hudson (Tech) Valley region,” Joseph S. Bubel, president of Hesse & Knipps, Inc., said in a statement. “CWI’s extensive knowledge and experience in microelectronic assembly and test, as well as bonding & inspection equipment, enables them to quickly and accurately assess application requirements and recommend an ideal course of action for Hesse & Knipps’ wire bonder customers.”“Hesse & Knipp’s line of advanced wedge bonding systems are a perfect complement to our existing device packaging line card,” said Nat Weil, CWI Founder and President. “We are extremely pleased to be representing Hesse & Knipps and join a team that we have admired for many years.”
Industry veteran Elizabeth McDonald is joining the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance as president and CEO.  McDonald brings more than 20 years of experience to the Alliance, having led and managed several trade associations and most recently serving as a global advocate for sustainable clean energy solutions for the Canadian solar energy industry."Elizabeth's recent experience as a global advocate for sustainable clean energy solutions fits in perfectly with CEEA's mission–energy efficiency is part of every organization's energy sustainability plan–it's the cleanest form of energy there is," said Gary Johnson, interim chair of CEEA, in a statement. "We're excited to have her calibre of expertise on board to lead CEEA and further develop our membership, policies and advocacy efforts for energy efficiency in Canada."Prior to joining CEEA, McDonald served as a senior advisor, Business Development with SolPowered Energy Corporation (2011-2012), and previously as the executive director and president of the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) (2007-2011). During this time, she worked closely with the Ontario government (Solar Task Force and FIT/Micro-FIT Advisory Committees), the Electricity Sector Council and the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA). She was also named an Investment Canada Champion by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) and travelled extensively throughout North America and overseas as a solar advocate and spokesperson."I'm excited to lead the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance into its next chapter," said McDonald in a statement. "Energy efficiency is part of the clean energy sustainability solutions that I've been advocating for and I look forward to developing its potential even further."
The Robotics Industry Association is handing the robotics industry’s highest honour, the Engelberger Robotics Award, to Richard Litt and Martin Buehler at a special ceremony on Thursday in Taipei, Taiwan, during the 43rd International Symposium on Robotics. The RIA sponsors the awards, named after the worldwide “father of robotics,” Joseph F. Engelberger, annually. Each recipient will be presented a commemorative medallion and a $5,000 honorarium. Beginning with the initial presentation in 1977, 115 industry leaders from 16 nations have now been selected for this honour.Litt, founder and Chairman of Genesis Systems Group LLC, is the recipient of the 2012 Engelberger Award for Leadership. Under Litt’s guidance Genesis developed from a small welding supply firm to a global leader in robotic welding integration with more than 4,000 robots installed today. With a background in manufacturing engineering and welding, Litt was a pioneer in non-automotive robotic arc welding. He helped design and manufacture high speed, accurate, low cost auxiliary motion devices, workcell logic devices, robot-to-process equipment interfaces and safety interlocks needed for successful robotic welding workcells. “Prior to the early 1980s, non-automotive arc welding robotics was little more than a novelty,” Litt said in a statement. “Today robotic arc welding cells are commonplace in general industry.”In 2008, Litt was elected the first chairman of RIA to represent the system integrator community. As chair, he helped create the RIA Certified Robot Integrator program that was officially launched in 2012 after more than two years of development. He also expanded RIA’s global outreach programs as well as its outreach to the academic community. As a result, RIA’s membership rose significantly under his leadership.“Rich has been a true force within the robotics industry for decades,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA, in a statement. “He has helped mentor countless industry professionals, spawn new companies, strengthen end user application engineering groups, make RIA a more professional organization – he is truly deserving of the 2012 Engelberger Award.”The 2012 Engelberger Award for Technology, recognizes Dr. Martin Buehler for more than 20 years of industrial and academic contributions in developing advanced robotics technology. His expertise is in robot manipulation, mobile robots, and leading innovative R&D and product development organizations.Buehler grew up in the rural Black Forest region of southern Germany and studied electrical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe. He received the Ph.D degree in electrical engineering from Yale University in 1990, and after a PostDoc at MIT’s Leglab, he became a professor at McGill University in 1991, with tenure since 1997. His research focused on dynamic grasping, direct drive motor control and legged robots. From 2003 to 2008 he was director of Robotics at Boston Dynamics, and he was Director of Research at iRobot Corporation from 2008 to 2011. He is currently vice president for Logistics Solutions at Vecna Technologies.Buehler is best known in the academic world for his expertise in “intermittent dynamical” robotic tasks such as dynamic manipulation and dynamically stable legged locomotion. His research led to multiple breakthroughs in legged robot projects like BigDog and RHex. In the corporate world, Buehler’s passion is to translate robotics technologies into successful product solutions, a calling he pursues at Vecna Technologies with the development of an autonomous hospital delivery robot, QC Bot.“Martin Buehler’s vast body of work has greatly accelerated technology advances in the robotics industry,” Burnstein said. “His insights have had an enormous impact and his solid record of accomplishment makes him an extremely worthy recipient of the 2012 Engelberger Award for Technology.”
Canadian Auto Workers' delegates have re-elected Ken Lewenza as the union's national president. National secretary-treasurer Peter Kennedy was also re-elected and Sylvain Martin was elected Quebec director to replace retiring Jean-Pierre Fortin.A number of new local presidents were also elected at the CAW's first constitutional and collective bargaining convention in Toronto.The term of each position is three years.Lewenza, who has been union president since 2008, was born and raised in Windsor, Ont. and has been a CAW member since he began working at Chrysler Canada in 1972.Earlier this week, CAW delegates voted unanimously to merge with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, combining two of Canada's largest private-sector unions.CEP delegates will vote on the proposal when they meet in October.The new union would represent more than 300,000 workers across roughly 20 economic sectors.
Woodbridge Pallet Ltd., a Woodbridge-based pallet manufacturing and repair company, was fined $50,000 on Aug. 17, 2012, for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker was injured. On July 20, 2010, a Woodbridge Pallet employee was painting pallets in the workplace's paint department. The worker began walking across the floor area to retrieve some paint when a counter-balance forklift carrying a load of pallets struck the worker. The worker suffered leg and arm injuries.An Ontario Ministry of Labour investigation found that the forklift operator - when moving forward - could not see the other worker because the pallets on the forks obstructed the operator's forward view.Woodbridge Pallet Ltd. pleaded guilty to failing to move materials in a way that would not endanger any workers.The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Linda DeBartolo. In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.
Canadian Auto Workers delegates have voted unanimously to merge with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, combining two of Canada's largest private-sector unions. All of the voting delegates voted for the merger at the CAW's constitutional and collective bargaining convention in Toronto.CEP delegates will vote on the proposal when they meet in October.The new union would represent more than 300,000 workers across roughly 20 economic sectors.Most of the membership would be concentrated in manufacturing, communications and transportation.CAW leader Ken Lewenza and other key players have said the two groups must join forces in order to ensure protection for existing members and inject some life back into the national labour movement.It will be hard for the CAW to part with its name, Lewenza said Wednesday before the results of the vote were announced.“But it's a name,” he said, adding that a new approach to organized labour is needed in light of what he calls the government's attack on unions in recent years.CEP president Dave Coles said the merger with CAW makes sense because the two unions share a similar history and have worked together in the past.“Bigger is not necessarily better,” he said. “But a bigger and better union is better, and that's what we're going to build.”The CAW began contract talks with the big U.S. automakers – GM, Ford and Chrysler –  last week.The union, which made concessions on wages, vacation time and other benefits when the U.S. automakers were struggling during the 2008-09 recession, has said it wants to share in the profits now that the industry has rebounded.The automakers have said their focus during the negotiations will be to improve competitiveness at their Canadian operations, where labour costs are higher than in the United States.Also on Wednesday, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney addressed a persistent complaint of those who put the blame for weak exports squarely on the shoulders of the strong Canadian dollar. The manufacturing sector and auto industry have been particularly hard hit in recent years.He noted Canada's export performance was the second-worst in the G20 over the last decade, with only nine per cent of exports going to fast-growing emerging markets such as China and India.And he sought to dispel the notion that the high loonie bears the bulk of the blame.He told union members that over the past decade, Canada's poor export performance is two-thirds explained by market structure and one-third by competitiveness. Of the latter, he said, about two-thirds is the currency while the rest is labour costs and productivity.

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