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BWA Proud Partner with Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster!

After six months of working with various industry sector leaders, academia, and other partners, the Bluewater Wood Alliance is representing the value-added wood products sector in the biggest manufacturing supercluster in Canada!

Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister for Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced Thursday that the Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster was one of the successful bids.

What this means for our wood products manufacturing industry, is that we are at the table with other big industries in Canada like automotive, aerospace, IT, robotics, and other major sectors. Our profile is now raised higher, along with the importance of our wood products manufacturing industry to the economy! The BWA is very excited to be appointed to their board of Directors!

There are three pillars to the Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster strategy:

  • co-invest in collaborative, industry-led projects in things like vision systems, AI, IoT, data security, robotics, advanced materials, and additive manufacturing
  • support the creation of new tools, testbeds, and infrastructure to help create the next generation of manufacturing firms
  • build out a robust ecosystem of supports and services that accelerate technology adoption in manufacturing i.e. technology readiness assessments, training and skills development, and go-to-market support

As the first and only Porterian cluster in North America for the wood industry, the already established BWA cluster was an important element of the Supercluster bid. BWA member wood companies can participate in, and benefit from, projects and initiatives created from the collective momentum that the BWA cluster delivers. Governments like to work with clusters because they can help multiple companies all at once. The BWA project within the Supercluster is going to bring funding for investment in game-changing technologies to BWA members. The details are currently being worked out while a contribution agreement with the federal government is negotiated. More concrete details will be confirmed when this is completed.

Joining an industry cluster like the BWA brings you to the table for many opportunities, such as the Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster project, that single small and medium-sized companies would not have access to on their own.

See these links for more details on the Next Generation Manufacturing Canada Supercluster:

http://www.ngmcanada.com/about.html

http://www.ngmcanada.com/news.html

Stay tuned for more details as the project unfolds!

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BWA Plant Tour Focus Group Attracts 40 Companies for Learning!

The BWA Plant Tour Focus Groups continue to draw members from far and wide from across southwestern Ontario. BWA members traveling from Chatham, Niagara, GTA, Owen Sound, and Barrie, and all stops in between representing cabinet shops, furniture manufacturers, commercial millworkers, CNC houses, and niche product manufacturers all showed up at this event because they share the same needs and interests: we all want to get better!

They gathered at George Guenzler & Son in Kitchener, ON for the BWA Plant Tour Focus Group Jan 23, 2018. These events focus on a challenge in the host company, and members learn from the host’s best practices and brainstorm solutions for the host. The discussion is dynamic with ideas and suggestions abound for all. This tour was special since we had the added bonus of BWA members Brad Cairns from the Centre for Lean Learning and Sepp Gmeiner of Lignum Consulting in the mix!

George Guenzler & Son is a custom manufacturer of wood components, supplying the industry for 100 years: www.guenzler.com
They have had a continuous improvement program and 5S for 10 years, and needed some help to invigorate it, and also new ideas to enhance employee engagement with their 5S program improvement suggestions.

After an introduction of all members present and an update on BWA events, Barry Freiberger and Ken Aardse of Guenzler provided an overview of their business model, some best practices, and a review of what the company has been doing with their 5S and Continuous Improvement program. This was followed by a full plant tour, then a facilitated debrief discussion with all present. You sure can’t beat a tour of someone else’s plant, and see all the action involving people, equipment, and flow of product!

Here are a few of the themes of discussion following the tour:

  • “Tour Ready” discipline: Barry did not tell his staff our tour group was coming!
  • Combining new technology with old methods
  • Strategies to solicit improvement suggestions from employees
  • 5S boards for ongoing audits in real time
  • Empowerment of work teams
  • Standardized work strategies
  • Reading material: “The Scrum”, “The Goal”
  • Use of pictures and video to capture before and after, and associating that with photos of employees responsible
  • Knowledge gained from customers and suppliers are used to make improvements
  • Collaboration with suppliers/customers to “lean out” processes
  • Improvement time: allowing 1 hr a day for improvement: members shared examples/results
  • Tracking suggestions, assigning priority, celebrating success
  • Employee communication strategies
  • Plus many more!

Many thanks to Barry, Kent, and Neil at Guenzler for hosting, and also to the visiting members engaging in the learning! Also, Brad Cairns and Sepp Gmeiner add so much value: thanks to you guys too!

This summary can’t begin to replace actually being there! If you are not a member of the BWA and would like to attend these and learn more, contact us: manager@bluewaterwoodalliance.com

Mike Baker
Executive Director

1-226-668-5455
manager@bluewaterwoodalliance.com

Barry Freiberger of George Guenzler & Son shares with members his Continuous Improvement program.

BWA members tour George Guenzler & Son shop floor to observe improvement opportunities.