RRC Polytech and the Vehicle Technology Centre are hoping the upcoming Heavy Vehicle and Equipment Technology Conference won’t just bring together academia, industry and companies for two days of interesting ideas and innovations, but that it will also highlight Winnipeg for the powerhouse it is in this area.
“We have a unique concentration of heavy vehicle and equipment manufacturers including on and off road and agriculture located here in Manitoba, including MacDon Industries Ltd., Buhler Industries, NFI Group, Fort Garry Fire Trucks and 25 other manufacturers of recreational vehicles, truck trailers, snowplows and others. I don’t know of anywhere else in Canada that has this concentration. Many of our manufacturers are technology leaders and lead their competition by being the first to integrate and innovate,” says Ron Vanderwees, President and CEO of the Vehicle Technology Centre, a non-profit organization, whose mission is to accelerate the growth of Manitoba’s heavy vehicle and equipment cluster.
The Vehicle Technology Centre (VTC) and Red River College Polytechnic’s Vehicle Technology & Energy Center (VTEC) are perfect partners for this event. While VTC wants to tap into the workforce of the future that RRC Polytech is training now with cutting edge technology, VTEC is supporting Manitoba’s heavy vehicle industry and wants to grow it as a major transportation hub through innovation.
“Continuing to collaborate is key to growing Manitoba as a hub for on- and off-highway vehicle technology. RRC Polytech aims to drive growth in the province by working alongside industry partners, who provide invaluable work-integrated experience for our students, the next generation of innovators,” says Jojo Delos Reyes, Research Program Manager, VTEC.
Both organizations have found synergy and they want to see it replicated.
“We want to provide forward-looking technical content to promote creative collisions that we think will lead to cross collaborations between multiple companies and academia. Hopefully, this conference can help create some synergy that starts to feed the fire,” says Vanderwees.
That fire is well underway and will be on display when local and international companies step up to present, including NFI’s CEO, Paul Soubry, who will present on being a leader with fast-evolving technology, such as electrification of buses.
Other topics will include smart connected and automated vehicle technology, future-forward production technologies and robotics. The University of Manitoba will showcase its work with RRC Polytech and VTC that resulted in a collaboration that was perfectly suited for the industry—automated trimming of fiberglass parts. Winnipeg company, MacDon will discuss its efforts to capture manual human labor digitally, while U.S. company, Ekso Bionics will present how it uses exoskeletons in manufacturing to reduce worker fatigue and injury.
Video: Ekso Bionics, YouTube
Vanderwees’ hope is that the conference will spur the kinds of conversations that lead to greater growth.
“We have this dream of our local academia supporting our specific industry with their long-term research at a level deeper than what we currently have—that the relationship becomes symbiotic with each depending on the other, extensions of one another. We would like to see the industry hire those graduates so that they can continue their research in their jobs in our sector. We would like to see some form of a collaboration center where we can co-develop future reaching technologies for our own local companies with academia and institutions like the National Research Council. If we build a cluster so focused on our style of low volume, highly engineered manufacturing, it will attract international attention and others may consider locating here because of what was created.”
If you want to learn more about the Heavy Vehicle and Equipment Technology Conference on Dec. 7 & Dec. 8 at the Victoria Inn & Conference Centre or get tickets, go to the conference website.