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  • What AIAC’s Vision 2025 could mean for smaller sized enterprises

    6 janvier 2020

    What AIAC’s Vision 2025 could mean for smaller sized enterprises

    by Chris Thatcher; Skies Magazine Posted on December 24, 2019 When the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada in June released its blueprint for the next five years, Vision 2025: Charting a New Course, support for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) was one of its core themes. Small companies make up over 90 per cent of the sector and the report argued for greater government support to help them scale up, generate more jobs, and enhance their global competitiveness. That could include new funding to pursue digital business transformation, a reduction in the complexity of government contracting, and greater priority in the value propositions of prime contractors chasing defence procurements. “If our small- and mid-sized companies are left at risk, the negative impacts will be felt across Canada's aerospace industry as a whole,” according to the report, prepared by Jean Charest, a former premier of Quebec and deputy prime minister of Canada. Small companies are viewed as the prime creators of aerospace jobs and, in a sector buffeted by changing technology and new players, many may be more agile and better able to adapt than larger counterparts that must answer to corporate headquarters outside of Canada. But support from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and governments is essential to their survival, according to a panel of SMEs at the Canadian Aerospace Summit in November. There is no one-size-fits-all to helping SMEs scale up. Companies at different stages of growth require different types of support, they noted. But help with skilled labour shortages and easier access to government programs are common challenges for all. A solid position on a major platform is critical to initial success, but long-term growth requires diversification, observed Barney Bangs, chief executive officer of Tulmar Safety Systems. Located between Ottawa and Montreal in the small community of Hawkesbury, Ont., the company manufactures protective and safety equipment, associated components and in-flight training products. Traditionally, its focus has been 80 per cent defence — Tulmar has been a supplier to a military platform for over 25 years and benefitted from a strong aftermarket. In recent years, though, the company has sought a better balance between military and commercial customers. “As of last year, we were 65 per cent defence and 35 per cent (civilian) aerospace,” he said. Tulmar has also become more of what he called “a solution provider,” integrating components from other suppliers to provide an OEM with a final, certified piece of equipment such as an aircraft seat rather than just the safety harness or seatbelt. “We are doing more in-house and saving customer-costs for the OEM,” said Bangs. Diversification has also been a priority for Apex Industries, a machining, components, subassembly and structures manufacturer in Moncton, N.B. Twelve years ago, its aerospace business was five per cent defence and 95 per cent civil, much of it geared to Bell Helicopter and Bombardier. “We made a conscious effort to diversify into the military side a lot more,” said vice-president Keith Donaldson. “We are very conscious of not allowing our sales to go too high on one platform or with one customer.” Challenged by cost-savings pressures in commercial aviation contracts, military platforms offer a company like APEX “good visibility,” he said. However, militaries have long been trading quantity for technological superiority, meaning fewer platforms and a relatively short production cycle. And ramping up quickly with people and equipment to meet tight delivery schedules is a challenge for small businesses that need other options to justify and sustain the investment when the contract ends. “It is very tough for a SME like ourselves to invest.” However, defence procurement and government programs can go a long way to supporting the scale-up of SMEs, said Patrick Mann, president of Patlon Aircraft & Industries, a technical sales force for global manufacturers of custom components and systems. The scale-up program must be run by single entity within government committed to the Canadian SME community that would be “funded, independent and have the authority to make decisions.” Mann suggested coping what has worked well in other jurisdictions, noting the success of the United States Small Business Administration's set-aside program. “Within that, there is a small business innovation research program which has been highly successful in scaling up SMEs,” he said. The Vision 2025 report called for a federal scale-up program to “provide advice, coaching, networking, value proposition development and consortium-building support to incentivize growth and build capacity–helping firms expand their global footprints and giving them the means and maturity to support OEMs effectively.” The report recommended the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises (OSME) within Public Services and Procurement Canada shoulder that responsibility. “Having OSME at the table as a contributor to the development of government procurement strategies and as a champion of small and medium-sized business interests will help ensure government policies and programs recognize the unique characteristics of small firms,” it stated. “We are a pretty good example of a scale-up of an SME using competitive bid government procurement as a mechanism,” said Mann. However, developments over the past 10 years such as single point of accountability and bundling, where multiple small contracts are combined in one larger procurement that is awarded to one contractor, have been “devasting” to smaller suppliers. “It has been a real issue for us. Again, it is an issue where (OSME) can play a role.” OEMs can bolster government programs by mentoring small companies within their supplier base on management and production processes, especially around digitization, added Donaldson. “OEMs have a lot of that knowledge ... [but] I don't think [they] do enough of that.” He and Bangs both cautioned that the ability to scale up will be contingent on resolving talent shortages. Developing and attracting skilled labour is a chronic problem affecting the entire sector, but it is particularly acute for SMEs in more remote locations that don't have the resources to recruit as widely or navigate the immigration system. “Before we launch a scale-up program with support for financing and working capital, we have to make sure we have our skills done first,” said Donaldson. However the Liberal government opts to respond to the Vision 2025 report, the value of investing in SMEs should be clear. Viking Air, KF Aerospace or IMP Aerospace & Defence were once small companies and are “now thriving global participants,” said Mann. “That is the reason why todays SMEs are an important part of our industry.”

  • Un succès pour l'événement Journée Orientation 4.0 et Tendances économiques 2020!

    16 décembre 2019

    Un succès pour l'événement Journée Orientation 4.0 et Tendances économiques 2020!

    Près de 250 participants ont répondu présents à cet événement, co-organisé avec entre Aéro Montréal et le STIQ. Dans un premier temps, un séminaire sur l'industrie 4.0 a permis aux participants de comprendre les raisons pour lesquelles de nombreuses entreprises se sont lancées dans cette transformation technologique. Nous avons ensuite tenu notre traditionnel événement "Tendances économiques 2020". M. Guy LeBlanc (PDG d'investissement Québec) a été notre conférencier d'honneur et s'est exprimé sous le thème « Le nouvel IQ : une évolution au bénéfice des entrepreneurs et des entreprises du Québec ».

  • Last Week to Submit for Innovation Days in Austin

    16 décembre 2019

    Last Week to Submit for Innovation Days in Austin

    The Army is looking for new technology that can be in the hands of Soldiers by 2023. So we're inviting companies to share their ideas for the chance to "pitch" us during Innovation Days in Austin and earn a new Army contract. To be considered, submit your concept through our online portal, which guides you through the required information in a Turbo Tax® style. You can find more information on what to include in this quick overview or via the announcement. You may not know all of the answers, and that's ok. The more technical details, visuals, and vision you can share to illustrate your technology, the better we'll be able to assess it against the Army's needs. The deadline to submit concepts for this event is 4:00pm ET on December 20, 2019. We can't wait to see what you've got!

  • Metal Additive Demonstration Program

    26 septembre 2019

    Metal Additive Demonstration Program

    The Metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) Demonstration Program is managed by CME Canada Makes with funding from NRC-IRAP. The program is designed to help Canadian companies by de-risking initial trials, increase their awareness and understanding to the advantages of metal additive manufacturing (AM) technology. The program focuses on additive manufacturing technologies such as laser powder bed such as Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), Laser Direct Energy Deposition (LDED), electron beam (EB) and other emerging metal AM technologies. Canada Makes works with a group of leading Canadian service providers of metal AM technologies who provide participating companies guidance and advice to the advantages as well as opportunities offered by adopting AM. A primary goal of the program for Canada's industry to learn about the cost savings associated with AM, and how they can take advantage of the main areas where AM excels at; light-weighting of parts, parts consolidation and complexity of design, the sweet-spots for metal AM. The program demonstrates the ability to produce low volume parts for diverse applications; including the repair of high performance/low cost tools, dies and plastic and composite moulds for stamping, forming, trimming high strength alloy steels and much more. Canada Makes assists in assessing the needs of manufacturers and how best it suits their business model. Some have needs like the fabrication of obsolete legacy parts no longer available, AM offers a relatively inexpensive solution. Others are tooling companies looking to improve productivity and gaining a competitive edge by adopting conformal cooling. Be they SMEs or larger corporations, AM is changing how we build things and this program is there to help them learn about the disruptions coming to their sector but also de-risks their initial trials of this exciting technology. The results will create awareness and encourage the adoption of AM technology, thus improving Canada's manufacturing and exporting sectors and our global competitiveness, resulting in new technology skills and increased employment opportunities in Canada. Project Objectives: This feasibility study project has the following specific objectives: Identify and engage NRC-IRAP eligible companies with local ITA's who are interested to undertake a feasibility study of metal additive manufacturing. Preparation of a template task for a description of a standard research of a coupon demonstration unit to demonstrate Laser Additive Manufacturing process to suit their application; Identify the companies' common needs for researching the process in design, manufacturing of selected tools to apply Metal Additive Manufacturing technology for their required specific purposes; Meet selected companies to outline the application design – supply material for test coupons or part – deposition of Laser Additive Manufacturing to demonstrate its microstructure material, hardness and mechanical strength for component and, To increase the confidence and awareness of manufacturing companies in applying Metal Additive Manufacturing for specific tooling. Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will form the majority of the businesses participating in the program. Under the current challenging economic conditions and with strong competition from low-cost countries, SMEs are interested in adapting advanced manufacturing technologies to improve their competitiveness. NRC-IRAP's financial support will enable Canada Makes to work with these SMEs to organize projects and build the momentum in Canada allowing companies to see the advantages of Additive Manufacturing technologies improving the performance of our manufacturers to compete globally. Through the delivery of this program Canada Makes, it became apparent that many of the same questions and concerns were shared by new comers to this technology. Therefore Canada Makes developed two interactive guides, the Metal Additive Process Guide & Metal Additive Design Guide designed to assist businesses new to metal AM wanting to learn about process and designing for metal AM (DfAM). The Guides are easy to use, interactive and offer useful information for the adoption of this technology. Access is free although we request that you register. Thank you and enjoy!

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