Industry to be promoted during trade show in Ohio

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Industry to be promoted during trade show in Ohio
Manitoba boasts growing prominence in market

By Martin Cash

A contingent of 18 key officials from the Manitoba manufacturing community, led by the Composites Innovation Centre, is heading to Ohio to promote Manitoba’s growing prominence in the composites market at a major trade show there.

The group representing 11 Manitoba companies, the University of Manitoba and the government-funded CIC will attend the American Composite Manufacturers’ Association Composites 2005 trade show in Columbus, Ohio, and will also meet with officials at the National Composite Center in nearby Dayton, Ohio.

Composites combine two or more different materials that become stronger and more durable than the materials themselves. The tough, lightweight constructions are the key to parts manufacturing in several industries important to Manitoba like aerospace and bus and even biofibre manufacturing like Dow’s strawboard plant in Elie.

Mark Ross, president of Winnipeg’s Boeing Technologies Canada, is chairman of the CIC, which was funded with $2 million from the federal and provincial governments and championed by the city’s economic development agency, Destination Winnipeg.

Ross said composites have become an increasingly important part of Manitoba’s manufacturing industry. Ross’s Winnipeg Boeing plant makes composite parts for many different Boeing aircraft models, including the 787 that is now in the development phase.

“To compete successfully in the future, we need to be on the front edge of the technology,” Ross said. “CIC allows us to do that. That’s why we have been supportive of the centre since it started.”

Sean McKay, executive director of the CIC, said the centre has grown dramatically in its two years.

“We are a project-driven operation and we have completed six already and there are another nine on the go,” he said.

Among other projects, the CIC is in the midst of drafting a proposal to study the use of naturally occurring fibres from hemp and flax to be used in form-moulded constructions as a replacement for fibreglass.

As an indication of the growth of activity at the CIC, the industrial development centre and its eight staff will move into a larger, 5,000-square-foot space in November.

“It is a new area we are pursuing and we have several letters of interests from organizations that would consider sponsoring this,” McKay said. “There is a lot of interest from the ground transportation industry. The idea is that maybe we could create lighter-weight panels with strength properties equal to current technologies but at reduced costs. We think it would reduce vehicle emissions because of the lighter weight and it would use renewable materials in the construction.”

He said it is an area of interest that is now being pursued by several industries throughout North America.

That’s the kind of innovative pursuit that the CIC’s government funders believe will make a difference in the community.

“Western Economic Diversification promotes the growth of industry clusters that turn basic research into applied technology that industry can use,” Stephen Owen, the minister responsible for WD, said in a prepared statement. “The CIC is a great example of a catalyst for growth and innovation in the Manitoba economy.”

The CIC is proving to be a good example of a federal and provincial partnership in industrial development.

“The province has provided ongoing funding for the cutting-edge research and development in composite technology co-ordinated by the CIC,” said the province’s finance minister, Greg Selinger. “This trade mission will help accelerate the growth of our internationally competitive composite industry.”

As well as people from the CIC and Boeing, officials attending the composites trade mission to Ohio will include representatives from New Flyer Industries, Motor Coach Industries, the University of Manitoba, Bristol Aerospace and Acetek Composites Inc.

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