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WMCO receives $1 million to study cluster opportunities

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Hon. MP Chris Bittle, St Catharines, Ont., Mike Baker, CEO, Wood Manufacturing Cluster of Ontario, Chris Martin, chair, Wood Manufacturing Cluster of Ontario, president, Horizon Coatings.


The Government of Canada is investing in a clean energy future while strengthening Canada’s forest sector from coast to coast to coast. By finding innovative ways to leverage new market opportunities, Canada is ensuring the global competitiveness of our forest sector.
Chris Bittle, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Canadian heritage and member of parliament for St. Catharines, on behalf of the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, announced a $1-million contribution to the Wood Manufacturing Cluster of Ontario (WMCO) to support a study involving 10 collaborating wood manufacturing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across three industry segments (cabinetry, commercial millwork and furniture).
This study will highlight the importance of industry-led clusters to identify and leverage new opportunities for the wood-manufacturing sector.
This project aims to integrate Industry 4.0 technology for the optimization of information and material flow in order to establish an industry roadmap for SMEs. This roadmap will enable future investments and demonstrates the role of Canada’s forest manufacturing enterprises in utilizing innovative technologies. This investment will allow Canadian businesses to diversify and can help to sustain Canada’s forest sector while creating best business practices on the road to net zero by 2050.
“This is a real milestone for us,” said Mike Baker, WMCO CEO.
“It’s a break-though project that is recognizing clusters and their importance.”
Baker said the project has been “in progress” for three years and is a first for government to work with clusters and agree to a multi-company project. In the past, the government has only dealt with individual companies, which according to Baker is challenging, especially for SMEs, because of the administrative work required.
The WMCO IFIT Project will study the optimization of information and material flow opportunities in the Ontario value-added wood-manufacturing cluster with an eye to Industry 4.0.
Ten WMCO member companies – which had signed up early on to participate - are involved. Five cabinetry, three commercial millwork and two furniture companies make up the participants.
Among the projects that will be looked at are CAD-ERP integration, digital purchasing and consumables management, digitized estimating and quoting, paperless show floor, point-to-point CNC integration and minimized data entry.
Funding for this project is provided through the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program, which encourages the Canadian forest sector to adopt innovative technologies and processes to establish new product streams and emerging markets. By investing in innovative forest sector technologies, the forest sector is providing greener solutions that help tackle climate change and transition to a low-carbon economy while increasing its competitiveness on a national and global scale.

“Canada’s competitive and resilient forestry sector supports good, middle-class jobs in communities across the country — including in Indigenous, rural and remote communities. This represents the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Canadians. The funding announced today will support innovative Canadian SMEs, helping them to seize new opportunities for business and workers in the wood manufacturing sector, while showcasing the benefits of industry-led collaboration.”

- The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources 

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