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Interview with NRC’s David Muir

Canada Makes is pleased to have had the chance for a one-on-one interview with David Muir of Canada’s National Research Council (NRC). David shares with us his vision and plans for the London NRC.

The NRC is the Government of Canada’s largest research organization supporting industrial innovation, the advancement of knowledge and technology development. For more than a hundred years, NRC has pushed the boundaries of science all the while working with industry to help shape Canada’s future.

Dr. David Muir NRC London

David Muir earned his B.Sc and Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Western Ontario, in London Canada, with his doctoral research focused in synthetic organic chemistry. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada in natural product chemistry.

David joined 3M Canada in London, Canada in 1996, gaining technical and management experience in Research and Development in several industrial sectors. He served as Integration Manager in the acquisition of a Canadian company, in which he held senior level management responsibilities in Operations, Finance, and R&D.  David was then appointed into business management roles in the Healthcare sector, including Food Safety and Infection Prevention Divisions.

Dr. Muir joined the National Research Council in July 2015 as Director of R+D for the London, Ontario facility within NRC’s Automotive and Surface Transportation portfolio.

Tells us about the NRC, particularly the London NRC that you head?

London NRC

The National Research Council of Canada is our national Research and Technology organization. NRC is over 100 years old, and has a very proud heritage of significant developments such as steam locomotives designed for the Canadian climate, Canola oil, the crash position indicator, electric wheelchair, and recently 100% biofuel filled flights. Our mandate is to support the Canadian economy through innovation in science and technology. NRC London, on the grounds of Western University, opened in 1997 primarily to support the manufacturing and construction industries. The construction activities across Canada were consolidated in Ottawa around 2010, and so our focus is manufacturing, particularly in the Automotive sector. We have a 75 000 sq ft facility, combined offices, labs, 2 automotive bays and a 10 ton crane high bay.

What should the new NRC “labs” be?

Our new labs will allow us to support and grow our research and development in Additive Manufacturing, Microfabrication, Specialty Coatings and Functional Surfaces. We will also be creating new space and capability for R+D in Mechatronics and Control Systems as well as Engineering Data Analytics. Finally, since we have had significant industry feedback regarding demonstration and integration of technology, we will be creating facilities that can enable whole vehicle and digital factory level scale.

The so-called “Factory of the Future,” tell us about the progression you have seen to get where you are now?

Dr. David Muir

When I arrived at NRC London 3 years ago, investment in our facility to support advanced manufacturing had just been announced. We polled industry quite exhaustively for their needs, and held workshops to validate our findings. This feedback told us to focus on applications for digital manufacturing and connected/autonomous vehicles. Within these applications, we heard very strong needs in key technological domains, as well as a facility that can integrate technology at a full vehicle or factory demonstration level. Additionally, we heard clearly that we need to create a facility that is collaborative in which private, public and academic sector can work together to solve pressing challenges. So with this feedback, we set out to renovate our facility, hire scientists and engineers and acquire equipment that incorporate these needs. I am pleased to report that this facility is now substantially complete and we are preparing for an opening in the fall.

How do you see the NRC’s place in helping companies adopt and use the applications and concepts of Industry 4.0.

First of all, our goal is to help companies de-risk implementation of new technology. I see several means by which we can do this – expertise to advise on technology, a demonstration facility to show new technology in use at a scaled-up level, a platform for industry to trial their own process before implementing, use cases for new applications of technology, and research into new areas. Industry for example has fed back that they have heard a lot about digital manufacturing or Industry 4.0, but they cannot visualize or understand how to implement. An additional benefit that clients can leverage at NRC London is access to the full breadth of the NRC. We are a relatively small facility, however, we can help clients access the >3000 employees of the NRC.

Will you focus on any particular advanced technologies? If yes what and why?

NRC London has created very strong and world recognized capabilities in additive manufacturing, microfabrication and surface functionalization. We will continue to develop in these areas as they continue to be of strong interest to industry. In addition, industry feedback has shown 2 major areas for focus, Mechatronics and Control Systems as well as Engineering Data Analytics.   Finally, integration of technology for connected/autonomous vehicles and digital manufacturing will be a skillset employing hard/software interoperability, autonomous systems, cybersecurity and communications.

Where do you see this initiative having its biggest impact?

We see impact to manufacturers of all size in Canada. Companies interested in new technology or adoption of technology related to digital manufacturing and/or connected/autonomous vehicles.

Thank you David.



INDUSTRY 4.0 …… The Next Industrial Revolution

Industry 4.0 is now deemed the next Industrial revolution and is facilitating what some are calling the Age of Technological Disruption. This is being driven by the emergence of new advanced technologies generating new forms of innovation and industrial disruption.

In the last, the 3rd industrial revolution (from 1970 until now) we have added significant computerization to our manufacturing and business processes.

But we still have many environments in industry where humans are trapped as the prime interface between our processes and the computer using keyboards and bar codes and primitive scanners

This has so far made us slaves to the computer.

In INDUSTRY 4.0 we will employ Cyber-Physical Systems that will eliminate the human interface with sensors and smarter systems… so we then will have the “Computers working for us …. NOT us for the computers”

So, these Cyber-Physical Systems will eliminate the burden of managing computers by humans and allow direct linkage between the computers and the process.

A Cyber-physical system uses “SMART” Connectivity, Sensor Technology, and advanced computer networks, to place computers much more directly and seamlessly into our processes so we can eliminate transactional waste and solve some of the major interface issues between computers and process management. This will also allow us to redeploy human skills much more toward improving our processes and further evolving how we do business and how to better satisfy our customers.

It will enable the “Smart Factory” concept to be conceived and start us on a journey toward a new factory of the future using new and disruptive technologies that will drive the next industrial revolution many are now calling INDUSTRY 4.0

These Disruptive Technologies such as cyber physical systems, advanced robotics, smart sensors, Big data, The Industrial Internet of things (IIOT), and Additive Manufacturing/3D printing will all impact and participate to improve future business operating processes.

A recent industrial study indicates that 70% of business leaders in North America are looking at how to embrace the INDUSTRY 4.0 environment, and are revisiting both Continuous Improvement (CI) and Disruptive Technologies as strategic differentiators.

The goal is to further improve operating processes and better harmonize future products and processes to achieve more integrated, waste free and sustainable products, processes and services to meet customer expectations.

The application of INDUSTRY 4.0 and these disruptive technologies has a global current market size specific to the manufacturing industry of about $3.9 Trillion and is rapidly growing with investments predicted to exceed $60 trillion during the next 15 years.

Advanced Manufacturing has been a continuum but the integration of these new disruptive technologies constitutes a near perfect storm to change the face of business industry and manufacturing into the next decade.

3D printers now becoming highly capable in both plastic and metal is driving change in how and where manufacturing will be undertaken, and is providing many opportunities for both Rapid prototyping and hi performance tooling strategies to re-life traditional industries and breed new industries.

New printable materials in composites and food materials as well as bone and organ building blocks will take this technology into many sectors that will touch the population far more directly and at the point of use than traditional manufacturing. It will aid the thought process of manufacturing being more effective when it is local to the customer.

Advanced Robotics means linking traditional computerized machine and automation technology with smart sensor systems and we are witnessing this technology growth as defined by the upturn in the shipments of industrial robots of all types.

These smart sensor systems are being described as “Cyber Physical Systems” because they place the computer power even more in control of the process without human intervention and solve some of the major interface issues between computers and process management. These systems using networking technologies, sensors and using connected computing devices with integrated analytics has tremendous possibilities of effectively and cost efficiently managing a broad scope of physical assets, such as buildings, vehicles, machinery, equipment and inventory.

Computer technology in the last few years has taken a huge leap forward in terms of computing power measured in operations per second and operate upon enough massive multiple algorithms much faster than human thought with almost the same level of complex logic and decision capability. This will generate enough information density and complex algorithm management to become a form of artificial intelligence.

This improved computing power will also enable computing systems to handle what some are calling “Big Data” such that everything we want to know about a subject or event can be stored as a complete body of knowledge and used at will.

Although the technical term is “connectivity” the general public is embracing the Internet of Things and its industrial version the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

This is suggesting that devices and therefore the knowledge they carry will be “connected” more than ever before…

Again, it’s about information and knowledge at the point of use in real time…

The other disruptor is the “globalization of Ideas” via collaborative and connected platforms that allow remote interaction and is breeding a cloud based mentality and crowd sharing of resources/skills/knowledge and funds in a very interactive manner. The control of Intellectual Property may become an issue, but in principal the globalization of ideas is far more sustainable than the globalization of manufacturing and materials.

In principal Industry 3.0 was taking a factory and adding computers to improve automation and control… but the interface with computers has been a challenge…. Now with smart sensors and improved computing power and new processes that are inherently more computer driven we can better connect the computers and the process together without human interfaces or intervention.

Such dreams of autonomously self-guiding vehicles and processes that use sensors to eliminate transactions will allow factory designers to take the whole business process to the next level…

Much discussion is now under way that predicts that manufacturing certainly when re-capitalized will be geographically closer to the customer with much shorter supply chains and may also be organized into industrial clusters within a certain trade bloc.

So, these technological disruptors are now leveling the manufacturing playing field between so called low cost labor countries and mature or developed countries, where serving the local customer in the most sustainable manner is the most important value proposition. When the labor component is removed through INDUSTRY 4.0 any advantage of low cost labor is far less important. The real drivers for success will be how close you can get to the customers demand and how LEAN and GREEN is the business process.

For some of us this has been a long journey from the start of INDUSTRY 3.0 when we first started to use computers in manufacturing in the mid-1960s.

For most of us it will still be … are we there yet?

We have a few leaders in the Canadian Industrial community that are worth a mention and watch.as we develop our factories of the future….

Peytec Inc at www.peytec.com has developed a range of Cyber Physical readers and smart tags that can accurately manage position and analytics through a wide range of integrated sensors that will eliminate the need for operating transactions in all forms,

MEMEX at www.memex.ca offers a sophisticated work-cell data management system that provides a complete computerized solution for monitoring and improving work-cell OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness)

Westburne Electric www.westburne.ca has assembled a complete partner team of IIOT/Cyber Physical experts and will be offering an Industry 4.0 readiness survey to its manufacturing clients to support the journey to the factory of the future.


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CAD MicroSolutions Partners with Canada Makes to Enable Innovation in Canada

CAD MicrosolutionsOTTAWA, Ontario, August 30, 2017 – Canada Makes is pleased to announce a new partnership with CAD MicroSolutions Inc., a leading provider of mechatronics and additive manufacturing solutions in Canada. This strategic partnership comes as CAD MicroSolutions has recently expanded their additive manufacturing profile to include the full Markforged 3D printing line of products, Nano Dimension’s 3D PCB printer the DragonFly 2020, and HP’s Jet Fusion 3D printing solutions.

At the cusp of the 4th industrial revolution – Industry 4.0 – Canadian manufacturers are required to be agile, innovative, and make informed investments to remain competitive in an exponentially growing market.

“CAD MicroSolutions is thrilled to be part of Canada Makes and play a significant role in Canada’s Industry 4.0 and Additive Manufacturing (AM) sector.” Said Hargurdeep Singh, Additive Manufacturing Consultant at CAD MicroSolutions. “Our role as an Innovation Enabler is to provide top-notch systems in automation software, training and consulting to help ensure that our clients realize the greatest value from their technology investment.”

CAD MicroSolutions has been enabling innovation in Canada for over 30 years by providing clients with business solutions which address the full product lifecycle from conception through design, prototyping, visualization, simulation and production. With an increasingly significant position in the additive manufacturing industry, CAD MicroSolutions has chosen to establish this partnership to contribute to the growth, awareness and adoption of additive manufacturing in Canada, and to gain exposure to Canada Makes’ vast, nation-wide network of engineers, designers and manufacturers. With a large clientele base in the same space, CAD MicroSolutions anticipates that this partnership will enable their clients to network and collaborate across organizations, participate in and attend demonstrations, workshops and events, and stay at the forefront of additive manufacturing trends in Canada.

The Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show (CMTS) takes place September 25-28 at The International Centre in Mississauga, and CAD MicroSolutions will be hosting booth #1043. They will also be hosting a number of Launch Events throughout Ontario in October to explore the latest in SolidWorks 2018 3D CAD software as well as additive manufacturing solutions, virtual reality business solutions, and the latest in Industry 4.0 trends.

About CAD MicroSolutions
CAD MicroSolutions, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, has been providing engineers, designers and manufacturers with 3D technology and training for the entire product development lifecycle for over 30 years. CAD MicroSolutions is uniquely positioned to help their clients enable innovation across Canada, selling and supporting 3D printing solutions and Virtual Reality solutions as well as design automation software, training and consultation to help clients in mechatronics innovate, design and succeed. For more information about CAD MicroSolutions, please visit www.cadmicro.com or call 1-888-401-5885.

About Canada Makes
Canada Makes, a Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) initiative. CME is Canada’s largest trade and industry association, and the voice of manufacturing and global business in Canada. Canada Makes is a network of private, public, academic, and non-profit entities dedicated to promoting the adoption and development of advanced and additive manufacturing (AM) in Canada. It is an enabler and accelerator of AM-adoption in Canada.