Minister Bains welcomes $90-million innovation investment in Canada

Swiss engineering firm ABB to establish North American research and development facility in Montréal

Canadians will develop next-generation solutions for electric vehicles as a result of a $90-million investment by Swiss engineering firm ABB, which is establishing a new headquarters and research and development centre in Montréal.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, welcomed the investment after meeting in Davos with Ulrich Spiesshofer, President and Chief Executive Officer of ABB.

The new Montréal headquarters, set to open in 2017, will maintain 700 jobs and consolidate ABB’s research and development, manufacturing, assembly and testing facilities under one roof. The new facility will also house the company’s North American Centre for Excellence in e-Mobility, which will focus on developing energy-management solutions for electric buses and trains.

This investment will put Canada on the map in a number of emerging technologies, such as robotics and Internet-connected devices, that will power the industrial systems of the future.

The Government of Canada’s Innovation Agenda aims to make this country a global centre for innovation—one that drives economic growth and leads to better skills, jobs and opportunities for all Canadians.

Minister Bains and Dr. Spiesshofer discussed additional ABB investment opportunities in research and development related to the Internet of Things, robotics and the automation of food processing. The Minister expressed his commitment to ongoing engagement with ABB on investment opportunities that will strengthen Canada’s innovation ecosystem and create jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it.


“When global companies look to invest, many seek the most innovative countries—the ones with the most creative and entrepreneurial people who can turn ideas into solutions. ABB’s decision to select Canada for its flagship North American operations is a clear vote of confidence in the talent and expertise of highly skilled Canadians. As a result of this investment, Canadians will develop next-generation industrial systems and the skills needed for the jobs of the future.”

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“As a pioneering technology leader, ABB is helping its customers unlock value from digitalization and the Energy and Fourth Industrial revolutions. With its excellent universities and associated ecosystem, Canada provides all the right ingredients for research and development needed to develop global technology platforms. There are huge opportunities in making transportation systems smarter and greener. At ABB, we want to run the world without consuming the Earth.”

– Ulrich Spiesshofer, President and Chief Executive Officer, ABB

Quick facts

  • ABB (ASEA Brown Boveri), a Fortune 500 company, is a multinational engineering firm headquartered in Switzerland.
  • ABB is a top Swiss investor in Canada. The company generates annual revenues of $2 billion and employs more than 4,500 Canadians in 50 locations across the country.

Associated links

Windsor company receives $3 million to develop new automotive technologies

Funding will lead to lighter engines

January 10, 2017 – Windsor, Ontario – Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Up to 70 high-quality jobs in Windsor’s automotive sector could be created as a result of a Government of Canada investment announced today by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

The funding of up to $3 million for Nemak of Canada Corporation, in partnership with Arbec Tool and Machine Ltd., will support the development of stronger engine blocks made of lightweight aluminum. These engine blocks will make cars lighter, more fuel-efficient and better for the environment.

These lightweight engine blocks will be produced by a fully automated robotic system, which itself is an innovation. This automated production system will allow Nemak to develop flexible manufacturing processes that will make the company more globally competitive.

The funding is being allocated through the Automotive Supplier Innovation Program, which supports research and development activities by small and medium-sized companies that provide components, parts and production systems for the automotive supply chain.

The Government of Canada’s Innovation Agenda aims to make this country a global centre for innovation—one that drives economic growth and leads to better skills, jobs and opportunities for all Canadians. Key programs that support research and development activities in the auto sector include the Automotive Innovation Fund and the Automotive Suppliers Innovation Program.


“If Canada is to succeed in making the cars of the future, we must embrace greener, more sustainable technologies. These technologies will create the well-paying middle-class jobs of the future. Advanced research and development projects challenge today’s autoworkers to enhance their skill set. By having a workforce with skills that are in demand and the technologies that will shape the future of the industry, Canada’s auto sector can secure its place in the global supply chain of tomorrow.”

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Quick facts

  • Nemak is a leading provider of innovative, lightweight solutions for the global automotive industry. The company specializes in the development and manufacturing of aluminum components for powertrain and body-structure applications.
  • Canada’s auto sector is the country’s second largest manufacturing industry, producing more than 2 million vehicles a year. That translates to roughly one car being manufactured every 14 seconds.
  • The auto sector employs more than 125,000 Canadians directly and another 398,700 indirectly. The sector creates more spinoff jobs than any other. For every job created on an automotive assembly line, six jobs are created in various other sectors of Canada’s economy.
  • The Automotive Supplier Innovation Program supports research and development activities by small and medium-sized companies that produce new components, parts and production systems for Canada’s automotive supply base. The program provides firms with new opportunities to participate in global supply chains.
  • The Automotive Innovation Fund supports strategic and innovative investments by Canada’s automakers as they build their research and development capacity and increase their ability to compete internationally.
  • In Budget 2016, the Government extended the Automotive Innovation Fund to 2020–21.

Autonomous vehicles drive 3D printing factory of the future and Industry 4.0

Concept Laser plan to realize the ‘AM factory of tomorrow’ through a collaboration with KUKA group’s Swisslog. Swisslog have helped Concept Laser create an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) for use in their M Line Factory aspPart of Concept Laser’s claim to be the first metal additive manufacturer to embrace automated solutions in their industry 4.0 vision. The Selective Laser Melting company, having recently been acquired by General Electric, will now be able to automate their metal printing process.

Swisslog's warehouse and distribution solutions. Image via Swisslog.

An example of Swisslog’s warehouse and distribution solutions. Image via Swisslog.

Drawing on there considerable experience in the automation of material flow, Swisslog are also a global leader in automated solutions for warehouse and distribution centers. Swisslog have provided Concept Laser with an autonomous vehicle that can transport parts from different machines in a chain as pictured below.

Graphic showing production method in the 'AM Factory of tomorrow'. Image via Concept Laser

Graphic showing production method in the ‘AM Factory of tomorrow’. Image via Concept Laser

Dr. Christian Baur, CEO of Swisslog’s Warehouse and Distribution Solutions division, is enthusiastic about the project and said, “With this collaboration we see the opportunity to implement our highly efficient automated solutions for smart logistics networks in production.” While, Head of Research & Development at Concept Laser, Dr. Florian Bechmann added,

The ambitious concept of the M Line Factory ensures a high level of automation and flexibility in 3D metal printing. The AGV system from Swisslog is the next stage in the development toward consistent automation of the processes embracing the basic idea of ‘Industry 4.0.’

Gif shows the AGV in action at Formnext. Images from TCT Magazine.  

The goal is eliminate the need for machine units to be located directly next to one another in order to work in collaboration. This will save time, money and increase general efficiency. Furthermore, through the AGV device Concept Laser plan to realize Industry 4.0 demands for automation and technical assistance. The AGV devices being able to autonomously perform tasks that would be unsuitable for humans. Perhaps Tangible Solutions may look to implement this AGV after recently acquiring multiple Concept Laser machines.


Working Without a Net: Rethinking Canada’s social policy in the new age of work

Millions of Canadians might lose their jobs to automation in the next decade. Hundreds of thousands of others could see their full-time positions replaced with short-term, temporary gigs.

What will happen to the people currently holding these jobs? Will they end up cycling through unemployment benefits, drawing down their personal assets and surviving on social assistance? Will they have access to robust, effective training to re-skill and upgrade their skills for new opportunities?

What if they require access to medicine or mental health services, or their ability to afford housing diminishes? How long will it take them to re-enter the labour market as new tasks and types of jobs emerge, and will their new roles make them part of the ever-expanding precariously employed workforce?

These are vital questions that Canadian governments must start grappling with today. Autonomous vehicles are already on the road, robo-advisors are dispensing financial counsel and even lawyers
and reporters are starting to see automation take over routine functions. The role of digital sharing economy platforms in creating micro-tasks that offer more supplemental income opportunities but less permanence and security must also be considered as a key part of the technological wave disrupting labour patterns.

This report argues that prevailing economic and labour market trends combined with emerging technological factors are creating a growing number of workers with little or no attachment to Canada’s social architecture. Absent transformational policy change to recognize the new world of work, Canada’s social policies and programs will prove woefully inadequate to sufficiently insure enough people to meet the challenges ahead… more

SOURCE – Mowat Centre

About Mowat Centre
The Mowat Centre is an independent public policy think tank located at the School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto. The Mowat Centre is Ontario’s non-partisan, evidence-based voice on public policy. It undertakes collaborative applied policy research, proposes innovative research-driven recommendations, and engages in public dialogue on Canada’s most important national issues.

Coming of age: Robots in farms

Robotics researchers from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics are deploying robots to do high-precision farming; saving crops, avoiding unnecessary use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, and helping farmers do more with less work.

RIPPA, a solar-power driven electric robot was designed for long hours in the field. Best on a vegetable farm, it has a collection of sensors to monitor plant health and growth and can scan for pests. It carries a collection of robotic subsystems for mechanical weeding, precision spraying, soil sampling, and foreign object removal. Image via

Robots will soon be fixtures in farms. From tracking cattle and measuring crop health to counting yields and dispensing agro-chemicals, the new technologies promise solutions to pressing farm labour shortages, yield and productivity issues as well as growing environmental concerns.

“We are starting to see more and more robots on the farm, doing farm tasks and eventually, we are going to get to the stage where you see semi-automated or even fully automated farms happening,” Salah Sukkarieh, director of research and innovation at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR), said during the Falling Walls conference (7-11 November) in Berlin.

Pointing out that leaps forward in computing power have made real time data gathering and analysis possible, Sukkarieh said farmers would now be able to make critical decisions that address the issues of an individual plant, tree or animal, rather than having to apply decisions on a whole farm or orchard.

The robots are equipped with instruments that collect hyper-spectral and multi-spectral images and infrared, thermal and laser data. This information is then fed into machine learning algorithms that enhance the robot’s performance. Other tools such as precision nozzles allow them to target specific plants for the application of pesticides and fertilizers, dramatically cutting chemical use. Powered by solar panels, robots such as RIPPA are able to function for days.

This photo gallery explores the exciting developments in field robotics that were presented during the conference, touching on the capabilities of different robots and the information they are now able to supply farmers. Presently, the robots are still beyond the means of small farms in developing countries, admits Sukkerieh. But the ACFR, which is one of the largest robotics research institutions in the world, is hopeful that the technology will become increasingly affordable, particularly thanks to developments in 3D printing.

SOURCE – SciDev.Net

Closing tech gaps can fortify advanced manufacturing, save over $100 billion

Closing tech gaps can fortify advanced manufacturing, save $100 billion
NIST engineer Jeremy Marvel adjusts a robotic arm used to study human-robot interactions. According to a NIST economic study on advanced robotics and automation — one of four reports on advanced manufacturing — Marvel’s work is the type of research needed to fortify and facilitate this emerging field. Credit: Fran Webber/NIST

To spur significant innovation and growth in advanced manufacturing, as well as save over $100 billion annually, U.S. industry must rectify currently unmet needs for measurement science and “proof-of-concept” demonstrations of emerging technologies. This is the overall conclusion reached by economic studies funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of four advanced manufacturing areas used to create everything from automobile composites to zero-noise headsets.

“Gaps in the technology infrastructure—including the lack of reliable measurement and test methods, scientifically based standards, and other formal knowledge and tools—limit advanced ‘s further development and adoption,” said NIST economist Gary Anderson, coordinator of the  prepared by RTI International, an independent nonprofit research institute.

Using data collected through extensive interviews and surveys with researchers, developers, manufacturers and other stakeholders, each of the four studies identifies 5 to 10 critical technical barriers to the adoption of its specific manufacturing technology. The studies also estimate the impacts of eliminating those obstacles and define which needs should be met first to do so.

For example, establishing industry-wide standards and measurements for the inks and substrates used in roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing—the fabrication of electronic devices on a roll of flexible plastic or metal—is projected to reduce production costs by 15 percent. Likewise, the development and adoption of verified reference data, robust measurement technologies and testing protocols, and standardized modeling and finishing methods could yield some $4 billion in annual benefits and savings for , a process also known as 3D printing.

The two largest predicted cost savings were the $57.4 billion and $40.1 billion for the smart manufacturing (where all manufacturing data from design to finished product is electronically exchanged and processed) and advanced robotics and automation sectors, respectively. Among the needs that must be met to realize both of these benefits, the researchers said, is increasing access by small- and medium-sized manufacturers to the same state-of-the-art methods, tools and knowledge as their larger counterparts.

For each of the four advanced manufacturing technologies studied, the estimated annual  and percentage reduction in production costs are:

  • Additive manufacturing: $4.1 billion, 18.3 percent
  • Advanced robotics and automation: $40.1 billion, 5.3 percent
  • Roll-to-roll manufacturing: $400 million, 14.7 percent
  • Smart manufacturing: $57.4 billion, 3.2 percent

The researchers stated that their studies only looked at benefits directly attributable to closing the identified technical gaps in each sector; therefore, the impact estimates are conservative. “If we consider the larger-scale outcomes brought about by meeting these needs—such as new and improved products, increased production quality, long-term industry growth and job creation—the impacts would be significantly higher,” Anderson said.

The studies also support a number of key strategies for overcoming technical barriers and fortifying , including: keeping standards and performance measures nonproprietary, using public research institutions to develop those tools, and working through manufacturing research consortia and technology extension services to ensure that all manufacturers—especially small- and medium-sized enterprises—can access them.

“Our studies emphasize that full economic impact will only be realized if all technical needs are met, and all stakeholders regardless of size, not just large manufacturers, can share in the rewards,” Anderson said.

 Explore further: New NIST test bed makes the ‘digital thread’ accessible

More information: A summary of the overall findings from the four economic studies is available at

The individual reports also may be accessed:
Additive manufacturing:
Advanced robotics and automation:
Roll-to-roll manufacturing:
Smart manufacturing:


GEAR calls on government to help industry increase productivity

Toronto, November 2nd, 2016 – The Group of Experts in Automation and Robotics (GEAR), an initiative of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), calls on industry and the federal government to take action and help Canadian manufacturers improve their productivity through the adoption of automation solutions. Both organizations recently released Industrie 2030, a bold plan to double Canadian manufacturing output by 2030 (

“Automation is the key to achieving the goals of doubling output by 2030 in Canada,” said Martin Lavoie, Executive director of GEAR Canada. “This is certainly not simple – however with industry and governments working together and adopting a plan of action designed to help manufacturers invest in automation to increase their productivity, it can be done”.

In the next months, GEAR will host technology demonstration workshops and related events throughout Ontario to help raise awareness of the advantages in adopting automation. Partnering with Canadian manufacturers such as Festo and ABB, other industrial associations such as Québec’s Réseau des Équipementiers en Automatisation Industrielle(REAI) and academic institutions such as Sheridan College, GEAR will share best practices and inform about automation solutions that can help companies improve their productivity and operational efficiency. Canada needs leadership in guiding companies through this period of transition to automation and GEAR is ready to build the group of experts needed for the job.

GEAR representatives are present today and tomorrow at the Advanced Manufacturing Conference held in Toronto on November 2-3, 2016, Booth # 300. For more information, please contact Martin Lavoie, Executive Director at or Frank Defalco, Manager, at

Subscribe to GEAR’s Newsletter to stay informed about these upcoming events

About GEAR
GEAR (Group of Experts in Automation and Robotics) is a network of private, public, academic, and non-profit entities dedicated to promoting the adoption and development of automation and industrial robotics in Canada. Visit us at

Sheridan College is proud to partner with GEAR on this important initiative,” said Farzad Rayegani, Associate Dean in the School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology, and Director of the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies.  “Our Centre is one of the best-equipped research and training facilities in the country, and we are actively working with SME’s who are seeking to explore and adapt new technologies.  We look forward to collaborating with GEAR to help promote the benefits of automation more broadly.”

As manufacturing moves from mass production to mass customization the flexibility to efficiently change and adapt production becomes critical. This requires increased collaboration between people and robots, between islands of automation and even between production sites. Collaboration and digitalization are hallmarks of the factory of the future, where actionable information drives better decisions and operations from engineering and commissioning to running and maintaining production. “The future of manufacturing in Canada relies on collaboration and digitization allowing industries flexibility to adapt and change to market conditions,” says Nathalie Pilon, President of ABB in Canada. “ABB is proud to be a leading supplier globally of robotic solutions which help its customers manage this transition towards the factory of the future while building their competitive edge for efficiency, reliability and market agility.”

“Quebec’s Réseau des Équipementiers en Automatisation Industrielle (RÉAI)  is proud to support CME`s Industrie 2030 action plan and the future activities of the Group of experts in automation and Robotics (GEAR). We look forward to collaborating and sharing our expertise with our colleagues from other Canadian provinces,” said Louis Dicaire, President of RÉAI.

“As a global leader in automation equipment manufacturing, Festo welcomes CME`s Industrie 2030 Action Plan and looks forward to working in partnership with the Group of Experts in Automation and Robotics (GEAR) to help Canadian manufacturers take advantage of advanced automation solutions and increase their global competitiveness, said Patrice Charlebois, Industry Segment Manager – Food & Beverage, Biotech/Pharma.”


New automated plant grows Montreal aerospace cluster

by DON WALL – The time is right to be in the additive manufacturing business, says a Montreal executive, especially when one’s product is being sold into the booming aerospace sector.

Advanced Powders & Coatings had three of these stainless steel atomizing reactors in operation creating titanium powder in 2015. It will have five more up and running in its original Montreal plant by the end of this year and then by next August the company plans to open a second plant with four more reactors in immediate operation with the capacity to add eight more.
Advanced Powders & Coatings had three of these stainless steel atomizing reactors in operation creating titanium powder in 2015. It will have five more up and running in its original Montreal plant by the end of this year and then by next August the company plans to open a second plant with four more reactors in immediate operation with the capacity to add eight more. – Photo:Advanced Powders & Coatings

That’s exactly the cross-section where Montreal-based manufacturer Advanced Powders & Coatings (AP&C) finds itself. Demand for its specialized titanium powder is so robust that it’s building a second plant in northern Montreal this fall to meet growing demand.

The announcement from AP&C, which sells into the aerospace and biomedical industries as a subsidiary of Swedish firm Arcam AB, came at the Farnborough, U.K. International Airshow in July. Plans for the new plant, valued at $31 million, follow on the heels of a recent expansion that tripled the production capacity of AP&C’s existing facilities, located in the Boisbriand region in north Montreal.

Greater Montreal’s aerospace cluster is vaulting up the international rankings alongside global aerospace powerhouses Toulouse, in France, and Seattle, and now ranks third in the world. It accounts for more than 40,000 jobs and over $15.5 billion in sales, according to statistics published by Montreal International. Among project spending announced in the region in recent years were investments of $90 million from LTA Aerostructures, a manufacturer of heavy-load airships, and $12 million from LISI Aerospace to expand its production of titanium-assembly components; and just in May came the announcement that Bell Helicopter was transferring its Bell 505 Jet Ranger X helicopter assembly line from Louisiana, creating 100 jobs… more

SOURCE – Daily Commercial News

Robots and Open Source Operating Software: Webinar

The Robotics Industry Association invites you to take part in a webinar about open source operating software.

When: Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 12:00 PM ET
Register here.
Presenter: Jim Beretta


Open source (OS) software is all around us. We are often using it without even knowing about it. We will look at the many questions you may have about robots and OS. What is open source software? Where is the profit in open source? What is the advantage to using open source software in the robotics and automation industries? Is open source safe, secure, reliable and hack-proof? We talk to the experts that will answer these questions and examine some new ones, because this is just the beginning. (Source:


Event: Connect with robotics and automation companies in Massachusetts

The Future of Manufacturing:

Connecting Canadian robotics and automation companies
with customers & partners in Massachusetts

March 7-9, 2015

Mark your calendar for this dynamic 3-day program that connects Canadian industrial robotics and automation companies to potential partners, customers and researchers from Massachusetts’s manufacturing and robotics communities.

Apply Now

The Massachusetts Ecosystem

Massachusetts is home to booming robotics cluster of more than 150 companies, 10 research institutions active in robotics R&D programs, and millions of dollars of investments. Since 2008, the Massachusetts robotics industry has attracted more than $200 million in venture capital funding and launched at least 20 robotics start-ups. At the same time, the advanced manufacturing industry in New England and Massachusetts in particular is fueled by innovation. With expertise in aerospace, defense, semiconductors, medical device, and biotechnology, the manufacturing industry in Massachusetts is valued at $44 billion.

The Experience

  • One-on-one meetings with corporate partners, technology adopters, and manufacturers
  • Networking opportunities with the Boston robotics community
  • Pitch your technology to an audience of U.S. manufacturers and partners
  • Site visits to U.S. manufacturing facilities
  • High level presentations from members of the MassTLC Robotics cluster

Join us!

If you are an innovative company active in the industrial robotics or automation industry, then apply now. Contact

**The deadline for applications is February 5, 2016**

This program is being organized in collaboration with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME), and the Regroupement des Équipementiers en Automatisation Industrielle (REAI) under the GEAR initiative.

Apply now