Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gaining sophistication from new technology

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A 50-year-old Morden manufacturing firm would make a good poster boy for the benefits of investing in new technologies.

Jodale Perry Corporation (JDP) has invested in a variety of new technologies in the last 18 months that have dramatically changed the way it manufactures rollover products -- guards, canopies, cabs and full-composite bodies -- for tractors, commercial lawn mowers, utility vehicles and other types of equipment.

The result has been an eight-fold increase in production capacity -- from one cab per day to eight -- and a more than two-fold increase in sales -- from four million a year to nine million.

The improvements also cut the delivery time for some of JDP's cabs to six weeks from 12 to 16 weeks, the company's former chief executive officer told delegates attending a one-day Dare to Compete Conference organized by the Manitoba division of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME).

"For us to move forward, we needed to do this," Vernon Snidal said Tuesday, noting some of the technologies were already being used by JDP's competitors.

Snidal, who recently left the company, said the changes not only helped to strengthen relationships with existing customers, which include equipment John Deere, Massey and Buhler, but also helped to attract new ones.

"As we've become more and more sophisticated... more and more people have come to us."

The changes also led to a huge change in the corporate culture at JDP, which employs about 40 people, he added.

Some of the new technologies the company invested in included a $300,000 tube roller, a $110,000 laser cutter, a $55,000 3D scanner and a $100,000 enterprise-resource-planning software program.

Snidal was one of several guest speakers Tuesday touting the benefits of incorporating innovation and new technologies into the manufacturing process.

Don Boitson, vice-president and general manager of the Winnipeg division of Magellan Aerospace, said Magellan has invested $60 million to build and equip a new advanced composite-manufacturing facility in Winnipeg that will produce more than 1,000 horizontal tail assemblies during the next 20 years for the controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.

And it expects to spend another $40 million before the contract expires.

While it's a huge investment, Boitson said the payoff will be more than $1 billion in new revenues for Magellan during the life of the contract.

He said the plant delivered the first tail assembly in December, on time, at the agreed-upon price, and to the customer's specifications.

The customer is England's BAE Systems.

The CME's annual Dare to Compete conference is one of a number of events being held this week as part of Manufacturing Week activities in Manitoba. The next big event is a gala awards dinner to be held Thursday at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

 

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 20, 2013 B4

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