Local manufacturers share ‘meaningful’ lessons

Like other manufacturers around the world, those located in York Region faced numerous challenges in the first months of the pandemic, with many forced to pivot just to survive. Now, they’re sharing lessons learned in a new report.

“This report is a model for other jurisdictions across Canada and has meaningful insights for supply chain leaders and policy makers throughout the country who want to foster economic recovery and future prosperity,” Christian Buhagiar, President and CEO of Supply Chain Canada, says of the Building Supply Chain Resilience report.

York Region is home to more than 2,500 manufacturing businesses, making it the third largest manufacturing cluster in Ontario and fifth largest in Canada. Together with the cities of Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan, it teamed up with Supply Chain Canada to study the resilience of the local manufacturing sector supply chain.

“We know many businesses, including those in the manufacturing sector, have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” says York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. “Supply chain resilience is fundamental to economic recovery at local, provincial and national levels. Assessing our manufacturers’ state of readiness will help us better understand business recovery.”

Thirty local manufacturers from five manufacturing sub-sectors – electronics and electrical, agriculture and food and beverage processing, building materials, automotive components, and pharmaceuticals and medical devices – were consulted for the report. It advises manufacturers to focus efforts on business continuity planning and supply chain resilience measures such as dual sourcing, split volumes, critical components inventory, alternative manufacturing and labour capacity, and explore nearshoring feasibility. Other tips: accelerate supply chain digitization, and secure systems and data against cyber attacks.

The report also includes steps governments can take to support the manufacturing industry. At the municipal level, for example, they can facilitate conversations with provincial and federal governments, continue to strengthen relationships with local manufacturers, and bring the manufacturing community together to share business continuity and supply chain resilience, best practices and resources.

“The long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our manufacturing sector may not be known for many years,” says Richmond Hill Acting Mayor Joe DiPaola. “It is crucial to provide guidance and support to manufacturers, with their continued input, as they focus efforts on a lasting recovery. This report is an important first step of the process.”

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