Trade fluctuations impacting Canadian process manufacturers: report

Monday July 22, 2019
Written by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
July 22, 2019 – The pending regulatory changes introduced by the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (USMCA) are affecting the business of Canadian process manufacturers, according to a new survey conducted by Sage, a provider of cloud business management solutions.

Sage surveyed more than 900 process manufacturers around the globe, including 301 Canadians, for its survey titled "Riding the wave of uncertainty: How process manufacturers are planning for a brighter future in 2019."

Eighty-nine per cent of Canadian process manufacturers regard the fluctuating import-export regulations as having a "high" or "very high" impact on their strategic decision-making.

Despite this challenging business environment, Canada’s process manufacturers remain confident in their ability to control their own destiny, with 86 per cent reporting that they expect to be industry leaders by 2025. Their top three priorities for driving this future success are emerging technology (59 per cent), expansion into new geographies and markets (58 per cent), and research and development of new products and solutions (54 per cent).

The industry’s overall optimism is consistent with the results of Sage’s recent "We Power the Nation" survey, which found that despite citing "political uncertainty" as the largest barrier to investing in international trade, 64 per cent of Canadian businesses expect the amount of trade with customers and suppliers to increase next year – a higher percentage than their counterparts in either the U.S. (56 per cent) or U.K. (49 per cent).

"Despite the headwind that Canadian manufacturers acknowledge, our research reveals a sector more technologically savvy and confident in its position of international leadership than ever," says Paul Struthers, executive vice-president and managing director for Sage Canada, in a release. "With the Fourth Industrial Revolution in full swing, Canada’s manufacturers are taking full advantage of the technologies and skills they need to excel, with half saying uncertainty around [USMCA] is making them more likely to invest in technology."

Also of note, 58 per cent of Canadian respondents say technical skills are most important to meet the demands of the future of process manufacturing, and 42 per cent say creative skills are most important.

An industry in transition
The “Riding the wave of uncertainty” report depicts an industry aware of its own digital transformation, with 62 per cent of Canadian respondents expecting emerging technologies such as robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and automation to be the development with the greatest impact on their industry in the next five years.

Other key findings from the report include:
  • 50 per cent reported implementing advanced and predictive data analytics (with an additional 42 per cent planning to do so in the future)
  • 47 per cent reported implementing automation and robotics (with an additional 43 per cent planning to do so in the future)
  • 46 per cent reported using IoT (with an additional 44 per cent planning to do so in the future)
  • 68 per cent of respondents said they had recent or mature deployments of on-premises enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, with an additional 25 per cent of respondents planning to deploy on-premises ERP software in the future
"We are encouraged by the industry’s plans to invest in and deploy AI, automation, robotics and other emerging technologies," Struthers says. "That so many of Canada’s process manufacturers are already taking advantage of the gains technology offers in terms of productivity and efficiency shows that Industry 4.0 is a robust, quickly levelling playing field."

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