Just over two years ago, I wrote an Op-Ed article for the Hamilton Spectator, “Here comes the ‘Internet of everything’: Advanced manufacturing is our bridge from a difficult past to a prosperous future”.
The core message of that piece was that the Internet is joining people, processes, data and things. Because of this, the emerging manufacturing economy is very different from the last.
With computer aided design, sensors and data analytics integrated together into the manufacturing process, higher quality parts are now being produced on demand. We are able to layer tiny particle clusters through “bottom-up” processes and make much larger objects, such as fuel nozzles and turbine blades, through 3D additive manufacturing.
My colleague, Grieg Mordue explains this in a Op-Ed piece for The Globe and Mail, “We’re not talking about tweaking old factories. We’re talking about creating the factories of the future – the very near future – where technology-enabled products communicate with technology-enabled machines, where machines anticipate their own preventative maintenance, where sensors in products communicate to machines, to other products, to customers.”
Since manufacturing produces larger dollar returns and generates more jobs than any other form of economic activity, this sector has the greatest potential to increase workforce size, fatten paycheques and improve global competitiveness.
Later in 2014, I again wrote another opinion in the Spectator that top tier universities make crucial contributions to economic well being by providing innovations, which have considerable value when they are commercialized. Thus, the right policies to strengthen universities and their research also provide a path for creating jobs.
Recently, the Government of Ontario announced a $35M investment towards a unique $50M Advanced Manufacturing Consortium involving McMaster University and two other like research-intensive and industrially collaborative universities: University of Waterloo and Western University.
This investment is right on target.