Innovation and the Future of Manufacturing

In his key note address at the Waterloo Region MIN Summit 2013, Ray Tanguay, Chairman Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc., Chairman Toyota Canada Inc., President Canadian Autoparts Toyota Inc., emphasized the importance of never standing idle; it is key to continually re-examine processes, identify the inefficiencies, and leverage the collaborative efforts of the people in an organization to find creative solutions to overcome those obstacles. This could mean re-engineering processes, introducing new technologies to improve efficiencies, or even expanding into foreign markets for a broadened supply management approach.

Indeed, it seems that innovation is the topic of the day: how it continues to shape manufacturing and what it will look like into the future. A recent study conducted by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, suggests that manufacturing is in an excellent position to drive growth and job creation, but that innovation will be a key factor in determining how much growth the global economy can sustain.

“[This] research highlights that […] innovation of manufactured products and manufacturing processes are among the most critical drivers of economic growth and prosperity,” says Craig Giffi , Vice-Chairman and Consumer & Industrial Products Industry Leader at Deloitte. As manufacturing networks and supply chains become increasingly globalized and complex, the need for innovative and flexible problem solving will be critical success factors in propelling growth and expanding the manufacturing consumer base.

Of course, with bold innovations come risks, and it is critical for organizations to invest time and resources into researching the wide array of alternatives available to ensure that the right steps are being taken to maximize productivity while protecting against risk. Innovation isn’t just change – it’s the right change at the right time, and for the right reasons.

Peter Hall, Vice President and Chief Economist, Export Development Canada, in his closing keynote address at the MIN Summit, pointed to a number of leading economic indicators in Canada and the US that give reason for optimism on economic growth in the manufacturing sector. “Growth is coming,” he said, but expressed concern that Canadian manufacturers may not be prepared to handle an influx of demand.

However, through innovative approaches to traditional problems and by remaining open to new ideas and creative solutions, it seems that Canadian manufacturing is in an excellent position to tackle both the challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead. By working with insurance partners who understand the manufacturing sector, Cowan is able to bring innovative coverages forward and help companies manage risk in progressive ways, allowing them to innovate and grow knowing they’re protected.

As Mr. Tanguay noted in his address, Canada, particularly the Region of Waterloo, has the innovative technology, the highly educated and talented population, and the solid financial strength to play a fundamental role in driving global manufacturing growth.


David Black
Industry Leader, Vice-President, Manufacturing