The term “advanced manufacturing” gets thrown around a lot, but it isn’t an easily defined term. Manufacturing, for instance, is the production of products in large quantities. Raw materials are converted into finished products that can then be sold. Manufactured products could be anything from canned soda and frozen pizza to car parts and electronics.What Puts the “Advanced” in Advanced Manufacturing?
Advanced manufacturing takes mass producing items one step further by using technology to improve both the products and the process. The Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council adds more to that definition: the products must be globally competitive; in other words, world-class.
Advanced manufacturing pushes the limits of what is possible in order to deliver a quality product efficiently. Take, for example, a suspension component on a car. Ideally for the manufacturer, this structural metal piece needs to be produced in high quantities and at a cost that is lower than what other competitor manufacturers would offer for the same quality.
The car company gives the advanced manufacturer the specifications required for the suspension link - strength, size, typical loading cycles, and its projected lifespan. An advanced manufacturing company would then put to use all the technology at its disposal to design a suspension link using the least amount of material but at the required strength and safety factors.
Today, the advanced manufacturing of a suspension link makes use of:
- Kinematic simulation tools that show on a computer screen exactly how much the part will be expected to move and what forces it will experience
- Finite element analysis that uses the kinematic data to predict the strength and lifespan of parts and displays them on a computer
- Forming simulations that show exactly how the metal would be punched into shape by a large press and a die
- Test facilities on site to prototype ideas and physically test the prototype’s strength in order to compare it to simulations
- Tradespeople skilled in tool and die, as well as the fabricators, press operators and engineers that are all part of building the tools that are essential for the process of tool and die
All of the people, software, test facilities and tools are used carefully to produce the lightest possible suspension link. This is how a world-class automotive parts supplier operates to obtain contracts with a large car company.
The Advanced Manufacturing Sector Is Booming in Ontario
There are a number of advanced manufacturers in eastern Ontario that make use of the resources, skilled labour and technology right in the province. The industry has some interesting characteristics:
- There is often a lot of proprietary information involved, meaning the processes and technology that the company creates are secret and often protected by patents.
- Many advanced manufacturers collaborate with universities and colleges to develop new materials or products.
- With a keen eye for every possible way to improve efficiency and quality, advanced manufacturing companies tend to be quick to embrace the Industry 4.0 revolution and interconnected devices to make their plants safer and to minimize machine downtime.
Examples of advanced manufacturers in eastern Ontario:
- L3 Harris maintains aircraft and their support systems for the Canadian military; their services include developing technology for flight simulations
- Transformix Engineering delivers reconfigurable assembly technology so that plants don’t have to buy new robots and machines for each new product
- Sigmapoint Technologies offers engineering services, operations support and prototyping of new products within telecommunications, industrial controls and homeland security
Ontario East Promoting Advanced Manufacturing in October
October is Manufacturing Month, so Ontario East is promoting advanced manufacturers that are pushing the limits of current technology, right here in eastern Ontario. The industry lends itself to a workforce that loves to work with their hands, tinker, and solve problems using software, tools and testing. There are incredible first-choice careers in Ontario that provide challenging, fast-paced, well-paying work.