In the 2019 World Manufacturing Forum Report, this excerpt by Irene Sterian was from an open call for initiatives on skills for the future of manufacturing.

Smart Manufacturing: No SME Left Behind

by Irene Sterian
President & CEO, Refined Manufacturing Acceleration Process (ReMAP)

Smart everything, connected products and the factory of  the future, are some of the most exciting developments in  the manufacturing industry in decades. New technologies,  including AI, big data, automation, additive manufacturing,  the internet of things (IoT), and 5G networks are collectively driving our industries towards a Fourth Industrial Revolution,
where smart, connected, automated, and data-driven is the  key to productivity. Industry 4.0 is a term coined in Germany that refers to cyber-physical systems communicating and cooperating through the Internet of Things with each other and humans in real-time along the value chain.

Digital technologies can be a game-changer for manufacturing. However, the adoption of Industry 4.0 in Canada is low compared to the rest of the world. As international competition increases, Canada will need to  adapt to the new digital economy. In 2017, the Canadian economy totalled 1.18M employer businesses. Of these, ninety-seven percent were small businesses contributing to forty one point nine percent of the total value of  exported goods. Large multinational organisations have the size, global presence and funds to undertake digital manufacturing initiatives. Digitisation can be overwhelming for SME as it requires great effort to overcome significant
barriers to entry. Given the importance of small businesses in Canada, they cannot be left behind.

Understanding the benefits for the average factory,  calculating ROI, scaling complex, capital-intensive manufacturing processes, retooling the workforce and prioritising where to focus first, are just some of the challenges of Industry 4.0. In response to this gap, ReMAP developed a Smart Manufacturing framework that enables SMEs (10-100 employees) across the country to discover Industry 4.0 and what it means for them. The ReMAP Smart Manufacturing framework directly aligns to two of the 10 Key Recommendations for the Future of Manufacturing identified by the World Manufacturing Forum, 1) Cultivating a positive perception of manufacturing and 2) Assisting SMEs with their digital transformation. The Smart Manufacturing for a Connected World framework, provides interested SMEs with the knowledge and basic tools to design a roadmap of both the manufacturing  process as well as the products they build. Focusing on how to link product design and development with manufacturing process and automation; the Industry 4.0 assessment is mapped to Technology (TRL) and Manufacturing (MRL)
Readiness Levels. SMEs not only look at Smart Connected Products and Smart Manufacturing Processes, but they investigate Smart Business Models too – selling a hardware, software and AI solution enables exponential growth.

With over seven hundred registrants from coast-to-coast  to date; ReMAP has delivered a hands-on workshop in  eight cities across Canada. In these four-hour sessions, participants are provided with an overview of digital
manufacturing with a scalable approach to the adoption of Industry 4.0. We provide real-life examples of new technologies they can incorporate into their operations with as little as one hundred CAD to as much as onehundred- thousand plus CAD. Industry experts (i.e. SMEs in agriculture, automotive, industrial) are invited to the sessions to share best practices and how they got started. Understanding how other SMEs from their own community have tackled Industry 4.0 motivates participants to respond
with an action plan.

In the second half of the workshop, peer groups engage with facilitators, educators, students and industry advisors to discuss issues, assess Industry 4.0 readiness and brainstorm company-specific solutions. “The brainstorming session at our table was phenomenal,” said Carrie Wilkes, VP, CWBTech. Participants craft a unique action plan with one to two priorities to kick-off their digital transformation. They receive expert coaching, gain new skills and learn how to leverage available funding and/or collaborations with new partners. SMEs leave the session with a tangible action plan to teach other stakeholders in their organisation to accelerate global competitiveness and efficiency in productivity, operating costs and quality. View more testimonials, NRC-IRAP, Innovative Automation, Footage Tools, Fibos, Georgian College, iGen Technologies and Invest Barrie.