Welcome to Episode 2 of ‘Making it in Ontario’, the official podcast of the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing.

In this episode Nick and Shannon sit down with Max Preston from the Axiom Group and Robert Graup from Intex Tooling (a subsidiary of the Axiom Group) and discuss everything from lunchpails to Formula 1 to Industry 4.0. In a Trillium Network first, the podcast is accompanied by a profile of the Axiom Group, which we encourage everyone to read, maybe while you listen to the podcast. Our profile of Axiom and more than 100 other innovative Ontario manufacturers can be found on our website.

Axiom is a fascinating company. At least we think so. If you had a chance to watch our quarterly video update with Brendan (err… ‘Dr. Sweeney’) last week you’ll know that we at the Trillium Network appreciate those who don’t wait around for someone to solve their problems when an off-the-shelf solution isn’t readily available. We appreciate and encourage people and organizations to create their own solutions. You may end up solving those problems in a more time – and cost-effective way. You will create knowledge while doing so. And if you are like our friends at Axiom, you may also develop new revenue streams in the process.

Max and Robert also teach us some important lessons about Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 is often conceived of as a ‘tool’ available to manufacturers. However, after listening to this podcast, we think about Industry 4.0 a bit differently. We think that Industry 4.0 is better conceived of as a ‘toolbelt’ in which manufacturers can keep the digital tools most relevant to their needs. Much like the contents of a carpenter’s tool belt will differ from an electricians tool belt, digital tools will invariably differ from manufacturer-to-manufacturer and industry-to-industry.

To benefit from Industry 4.0, those tools must also provide an appropriate solution to the problem that manufacturers are looking to solve. As such, Max and Robert teach us that the technologies associated with Industry 4.0 are deployed in very specific ways (or at least they should be).

For those who have watched the aforementioned quarterly video update, you’ll know that we like a good sports analogy. In the podcast, Max compares Industry 4.0 to Formula 1 motor racing to help us understand how and why Industry 4.0 should be deployed:

“If you want to improve your lap times, the team needs to understand where the losses are coming from. If your driver is braking 10 feet too soon, then you don’t need to know the fuel/air mixture in the engine.”

Max Preston

In other words, collect the data you need for the problem you need to fix.

Max’s colleague Robert uses Industry 4.0 in very specific ways. In his case, it is more about using the company’s Smart Attend software to manage production schedules than it is about production itself. If starting work on Project X on Wednesday is contingent on a machine finishing Project Y on Tuesday, then understanding why that machine shut down for a period on Monday is critical information to staying on schedule.

Industry 4.0 is in many ways synonymous with advanced manufacturing. That brings us to an important point, and something we get asked a lot (and that we ask ourselves a lot): just what, exactly, is advanced manufacturing? Good question. Our answer: it depends who you ask. This is something we discuss in the first episode of ‘Making it Ontario‘, and a topic that we take a deeper dive into next week in a short piece that we hope will serve as an important conversation starter for manufacturers and other industry stakeholders.

Stay tuned for that and the third episode of ‘Making it Ontario’, where Nick and Shannon sit down with Kim and Simmie Thiara of Acetronic Industrial Controls to discuss the doing business during COVID19 and Trilliums report, Gender Diversity and Ontario Manufacturing: Lessons from 5 leading Companies.

0:00-5:00 – Intro
5:01-6:46 – Guest Introductions
6:47-10:45 – Axiom’s corporate culture – Christmas lights and lunch boxes
10:46-14:39 – History of Smart Attend
14:40-19:28 – Industry 4.0 – Idea vs. Reality: $till a pipe dream for many
19:29-22:22 – The challenges of/benefits for the old guard
22:23-28:05 – Robert’s day in 1989 vs today (How he’s using I4.0)
28:06-30:23 – Robert’s nap on a bus in China
30:24-32:28 – Smart Attend: What does it do?
32:29-40:25 – Robert’s Industry 4.0 question: “Can I schedule this new work?”
40:26-49:34 – Industry 4.0 & people – How Max and Rob build teams – Passion!
49:35-53:01 – Trades ‘brain drain’. People aren’t aware of the jobs!
53:02-59:20 – Talking to parents about jobs in trades. Why parents steer kids away.
59:21-1:00:01 – NGen Project discussion
1:00:02-1:04:40 – Masculinity in Manufacturing – “As a man, I don’t understand. But I understand that I don’t understand.” Max Preston
1:04:41-End – How Axiom uses I4.0 data and how it doesn’t.

Axiom/Smart Attend Profile
‘Making it in Ontario’ – Episode 001
Gender Diversity in Ontario Manufacturing – Trillium Report
Quarterly Video Update with Dr. Brendan Sweeney