The global manufacturing scene is becoming increasingly competitive, but Winnipeg is finding new ways to maintain its reputation as a major player.
The city is Canada’s third-largest aerospace centre and a leader in advanced manufacturing. Both sectors will benefit from the Smart Factory, a new learning and research centre in the Red River College (RRC) Skilled Trades and Technology Centre.
“These investments are absolutely a critical factor in making sure that in that new expanded, competitive environment, that we are more than holding our own, that we can actually be category leaders, that we can be introducing and developing new technology here at home,” said Paul Vogt, president & CEO of RRC, at the Smart Factory’s grand opening. “I truly believe education and innovation go hand in hand. And even more so today, when industries and workplaces are being transformed by new disruptive technologies.”
Students will learn in factory settings and develop skills through industry partnerships that they can take into the workforce. As students learn new technologies and innovation, local companies will benefit from the expanded talent pool. The industry will also have access to the Smart Factory’s state-of-the-art equipment, research and expertise. It features technologies in metals additive manufacturing, collaborative robotics and autonomous factory vehicles, flexible robotic work cells, industrial automation, high-speed 3D laser metrology and industrial networking.
“Students will be exposed every day in their programs to what’s coming in robotics and AI and networking,” said Vogt. “We all know that represents the future.”
RRC is also expanding its Centre for Aerospace Technology & Training (CATT), located at StandardAero. Created in 2009 as the college’s first industrial campus, this is the third phase of CATT and brings new opportunities for the college and StandardAero to collaborate.
“These technologies will be part of the future for aircraft engine component repair inspection as we drive for future advancements and future training opportunities and improved efficiencies in these areas,” said Brent Ostermann, StandardAero’s Vice President of Engineering. Ostermann said the expansion will allow for five new and enhanced technologies in advanced 3D digital inspection, robotic adaptive machining, cold spray metal additive repair, robotic welding seam tracking and digital X-Ray inspection analytic software.
RRC will also soon open its new MotiveLab at the Vehicle Technology & Research Centre. The climactic chamber test facility will be the first of its kind in Western Canada and allow vehicle manufacturers to test performance in extreme temperatures here, instead of sending them out-of-province or out-of-country to determine if they meet industry standards.
Meanwhile, the role of robotics, new digital technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing in the manufacturing process will be explored through the future National Research Council Canada's Advanced Manufacturing Program Building. Plans continue for the facility at CentrePort Canada, the country’s largest tri-modal inland port, which will serve as a key research centre and help expand the local industry.
These new investments will continue to strengthen Manitoba’s aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors and keep Winnipeg a leader in Western Canada and a competitive player in an ever-changing global market.