Survey on Manufacturing Competitiveness in New Brunswick | UNB

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JDI Roundtable on Manufacturing Competitiveness in New Brunswick

NB Manufacturing Survey

The submission period for the survey on manufacturing competitiveness in New Brunswick is now closed. Thank you to the NB manufacturing leaders who participated.

By Sarah McRae

The JDI Roundtable on Manufacturing Competitiveness is conducting a survey to gauge the overall climate of manufacturing in New Brunswick by identifying manufacturing strengths and opportunities. Our goal is to be able to present an accurate picture of where New Brunswick firms are performing well (and where there are lagging behind), which in turn could influence future decision-making about what kind of policy levers would improve manufacturing productivity and help local firms remain competitive in the face of evolving challenges such as global competition, tightening labour markets and rising costs of production. 

If you are a leader for a New Brunswick manufacturing firm, we need your help!  

To get an accurate idea of what is going on with manufacturing in the province and to best understand how to help, we need responses from firms of all sizes and from all industries. All responses are anonymous and are treated confidentially.  

Survey overview:

The survey is intended to assess the technological maturity of local manufacturing by applying principles outlined in the Industry 4.0 Maturity Model developed by Martin Davis of Dunelm Associates. Industry 4.0 relates to the use of cyber-physical systems, strategies and processes to improve industrial productivity, capability and performance. Industry 4.0 is about more than having the latest technologies – it’s a philosophy and strategy for approaching industrial processes that revolves around using data to make the right decisions. 

Davis has used his executive experience across Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Food, Automotive, and Transportation industries to design a rubric that breaks down the various dimensions of Industry 4.0 and enables firms to assess where they stand. The Industry 4.0 rubric will also help the JDI Roundtable team determine the technological maturity of manufacturers in the province, both in comparison to each other and to other regions.  

The survey is built around six dimensions described in Davis’ Industry 4.0 Maturity Model: 

1. Leadership & People
To be successful, a firm’s leadership must spearhead the drive to increase manufacturing competitiveness. There must be a clear governance model, and leadership should account for the impact of change on people and their rolesFinding right people with the right skills is a critical issue, and options include building talent from within, partnering with educational institutions, or partnering with specialist system integrators or consulting companies. 

2. Data & Information 
At its core, Industry 4.0 is about using operational data to make decisions. This starts with collecting data directly from the equipment, monitoring it, displaying it on dashboards and identifying anomalies, then acting on what is found. Another step to consider is integrating data across the shop floor, the whole plant, or across the enterprise.  

3. Manufacturing  
There are several aspects to advancing manufacturing technology, including automation and robotics. In its most basic form, automation enables a production machine to run through one or more pre-defined steps without human intervention. Advanced automation goes further to include semi and fully autonomous equipment that can evaluate situation and adjust the process appropriately. Robotics are more generalized and can be programmed to perform several functions. There are many areas where firms can apply technology to manufacturing, including maintenance, safety, and improving efficiency.  

4. Operational Excellence 
OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) is a measure of manufacturing productivity. Key to achieving Operational Excellence is the practice of process improvement following the review and identification of opportunities to remove waste and improve processes. The most mature companies employ Lean Manufacturing and 6-Sigma approaches to optimize their facilities. 

5. Supply Chain 
There are several ways manufacturing firms can achieve supply chain efficiency. In order to reduce the holding cost of expensive parts, manufacturers may ask suppliers to maintain an inventory of parts in a nearby location to allow delivery to a plant within a specified timeframe. Just-in-Time delivery of raw materials minimizes the need to hold large volumes of raw materials on-site, reducing costs and storage space. Supply chain flexibility allows production and supply planning to respond dynamically to both customer demand and operational information. 

6. Technology 
New technologies can help manufacturing firms improve their productivity and competitiveness. For example, internet technology and cloud computing in an industrial context allows everything to be connected, including bar code scanners, handheld devices, control units, vehicles, and people. This provides opportunities to improve safety, optimize processes and maximize performance. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoTtakes this a step further to provide wireless smart sensors that allow greater connectivity and ease of gathering dataAugmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) can also have practical business applications such as bringing a design or model to life and simulating operations. 

Dr. Sarah McRae is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of New Brunswick and a member of the JDI Roundtable research team. 

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The JDI Roundtable on Manufacturing Competitiveness in New Brunswick is an independent research program made possible through the generosity of J.D. Irving, Ltd. The funding supports arms-length research conducted at UNB.