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

Growing the Canadian Advanced Robotics and Intelligent Automation Sector

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) held a roundtable on advanced robotics and intelligent automation (AR&IA) in Montreal on November 20th, 2015, at the Marriot Château Champlain. More than 35 representatives of robotics and automation firms, as well as manufacturers, provincial representatives and federal officials, participated in this event. The roundtable intended to identify pathways for industry and government – both technological and non-technological – to seize opportunities associated with AR&IA, understand success factors, and collaborate on initiatives to grow the sector in Canada… more.

CME launches GEAR Group of Experts in Automation and Robotics

OTTAWA – Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) has launched GEAR a national network of excellence dedicated to the adoption and development of automation and industrial robotics in Canada. GEAR (group of experts in automation and robotics) comprises private, public, academic, and non-profit entities.

“Automation and industrial robotics is the key to increased productivity for Canadian Manufacturers,” said CME President and CEO Jayson Myers. “CME is proud of GEAR and the leadership it offers its partners and all stakeholders dedicated to improving how things are built in Canada.”

The network covers a broad range of automation and robotics system specialists, including Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), providers of customized automation systems, academic institutions and government entities with robotics and automation laboratories, as well as end-user manufacturers interested in learning more on the benefits automation and robotics can offer to their processes.

“As part of CME’s ongoing commitment to ensuring Canadian industry is on the cutting-edge of technology and innovation, we have developed GEAR Canada in order to directly network automation and industrial robotics companies with vendors and educational institutions,” said Martin Lavoie CME Director of Innovation. “We look forward to expanding this group of experts and making Canadian companies global leaders in productivity.”

Designed to help its members navigate through the various companies offering equipment and customized solutions, GEAR will assist in locating the funding to implement this crucial technology.

About CME

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters is Canada’s largest trade and industry association, and the voice of manufacturing and global business in Canada. The association represents more than 10,000 leading companies nationwide. More than 85 per cent of CME’s members are small and medium-sized enterprises.