Category Archives: Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

Niagara College-led network for manufacturing innovation mobilizes in fight against COVID-19

Research associate Brock Husak (graduate of NC’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program) works inside Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, to assemble face shields.

Production underway at Welland Campus for 37,000 face shields

Niagara College researchers are providing innovative solutions to help those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and are leading a network of Ontario academic institutions who are mobilizing to do the same.

The NC-led consortium under the umbrella of the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI) is answering a call from the federal government to provide a high-quality, rapid response to the COVID-19 crisis and meet the need for critical health supplies. All seven of SONAMI’s academic partners are taking action to combat the health crisis, including Niagara, Conestoga, Fanshawe, Lambton, Mohawk and Sheridan colleges, and McMaster University.

Since 2016, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) has invested more $20 million in support of SONAMI’s growth efforts in the manufacturing innovation ecosystem. Thanks to flexibilities introduced by FedDev Ontario in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SONAMI and its member institutions have been able to harness their expertise and pivot their operations to respond to the COVID-19 crisis by building a supply of essential equipment, products and therapeutics for Canadians.

“Now, more than ever, we must continue to come together to find solutions that will support the health of Canadians and our businesses. I sincerely thank Niagara College, SONAMI and other member institutions that are answering the call to action to provide critical support to our country during this fight against COVID-19,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario. “We have the backs of Canadians throughout this crisis and it is through the dedicated work of partners that we are able to respond to this challenge and prepare for economic recovery.”

“These important and responsive projects, enabled through an increased budgetary flexibility by FedDev Ontario, are supporting the dual goals of immediately helping those most in need during this crisis and of fighting against COVID-19 more generally,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, Niagara College’s vice-president of Research, Innovation & Strategic Initiatives, and chair of the SONAMI Steering Committee. “It’s heartening to see these tremendous efforts from our SONAMI members who have jumped in to find innovative ways to help many people across the province and the country.”

In addition to the donation of thousands of medical and cleaning supplies, and personal protection equipment on behalf of their respective postsecondary institutions, their advanced manufacturing and research divisions are meeting the critical need for health supplies and services – everything from face shields to ventilators, and biomedical research, to innovative software to help stop the further spread of the outbreak. View list of SONAMI COVID-19 projects here.

Niagara College innovates ‘Made in Niagara’ solutions

Research assistant Tyler Winger (an NC electrical Engineering Technology graduate) assembles face shields at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

Within the research labs at Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC), staff members are producing 37,000 face shields. They are currently filling an order of 17,000 for the Niagara Health System (NHS) and other emergency responders in Niagara in response to an increased demand for protective equipment.

The WAMIC research team created the face-shield design and prototype, and have partnered with local company Jay-Line for its die-cutting services to accelerate the number of plastic visors pressed. WAMIC staff are completing the face shields with foam and Velcro, and are currently producing upwards of 500 units per day.

The face shields will be supplied at no cost to the NHS and other emergency responders in the Niagara region. The material to produce the face shields alone is valued at more than $100,000, made possible through the support of FedDev Ontario.

In addition to responding to local healthcare organizations, the College’s Research & Innovation division has received approval for a Medical Device Establishment Licence (MDEL Class 1) to produce Health Canada-classified face shields in order to supply to other hospitals outside of the Niagara region. About 20,000 units will be donated out of region, with assembly completed at WAMIC.

Inside the advanced manufacturing labs at the Welland Campus, staff members working on the ‘production line’ include two recent NC graduates, research assistant Tyler Winger (Electrical Engineering Technology, 2019) and research associate Brock Husak (Mechanical Engineering Technology, 2018).

For Winger, getting his first taste of production, even on a smaller scale, has been educational.

“I’m learning a great deal – from delivery of raw materials, preparing the raw materials into the parts needed to make a shield, assembling the shield, packaging and delivery of the shields, and being involved in getting the correct certifications,” said Winger. “To be able to contribute and do my part to the community has been a rewarding experience.”

Husak noted that it has been rewarding to help brave local hospital staff during these challenging times.

“It’s also nice knowing that our quality is very close to the quality of the normal shields that medical staff are used to,” said Husak. “One time after delivering a batch of shields to Niagara Health, a staff member in the shipping and receiving area said, ‘Niagara College? Yes! The nurses love your masks; thank you for donating them.’”

NC’s WAMIC research team is also supporting McMaster University researchers in their project to develop 3D-printed laryngoscopes for Hamilton Health Sciences. With some hospitals running out of laryngoscopes – which are needed for the intubation procedure for patients requiring assisted ventilation – and preparing for a potential supply-chain interruption, McMaster sought the expertise of NC’s WAMIC engineers to reverse-engineer sample units. The laryngoscopes will be manufactured by McMaster.

WAMIC’s activities are in addition to a college-wide effort at Niagara College. In early April, the College donated 30,000 personal protective items to the Niagara Health Foundation.

Staff members at NC’s Teaching Distillery – based at the College’s Daniel J. Patterson campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake – have been running the stills since mid-March to produce disinfectant products, with help from the College’s Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery, and SONAMI funding from FedDev. The products are being donated to front-line healthcare and community organizations in Niagara.

For a complete list of projects underway at SONAMI institutions visit:

ncinnovation.ca/blog/research-innovation/sonami-partners-fight-covid-19

SONAMI Partners Mobilize in Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic

A network of academic institutions in Ontario’s manufacturing sector is responding to an urgent need to protect the health and safety of communities and those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, the federal government put out a call to action to manufacturers with equipment or facilities to provide a high-quality, rapid response to the COVID-19 crisis and meet the need for critical health supplies.

All seven academic partners in the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), a Niagara College-led consortium of seven academic institutions that supports manufacturer’s R&D needs through applied research projects, have answered that call and are taking action to combat the health crisis. 

The SONAMI network, which is currently in its second phase after a major reinvestment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), includes post-secondary members Conestoga, Fanshawe, Lambton, Mohawk, Niagara and Sheridan Colleges and McMaster University. 

Thanks to funding support from FedDev Ontario, SONAMI and its member institutions are engaged in a number of special projects to support companies and communities as they actively respond to the epidemic, by building a Canadian supply of essential equipment, products and therapeutics. 

“These important and responsive projects, enabled through an increased budgetary flexibility by FedDev Ontario, are supporting the dual goals of immediately helping those most in need during this crisis and of fighting against COVID-19 more generally,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, Niagara College’s vice-president of Research, Innovation & Strategic Initiatives, and chair of the SONAMI Steering Committee. “It’s heartening to see these tremendous efforts from our SONAMI members who have jumped in to find innovative ways to help many people across the province and the country.”

In addition to the donation of thousands of medical and cleaning supplies and personal protection equipment, on behalf of their respective post-secondary institutions, their advanced manufacturing and research divisions are meeting the critical need for health supplies and services – everything from face shields to ventilators, and medical research, to innovative software to help stop the further spread of the outbreak.

 

NIAGARA COLLEGE 

Inside Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, 37,000 face shields are being assembled by research associate Brock Husak (left), and research assistant Tyler Winger to meet the need for critical health supplies for the Niagara region, and beyond.

At the Research & Innovation labs at Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC), researchers are engaged in the production of 37,000 face shields – currently filling an order of 17,000 for the Niagara Health System in response to their increased demand for the protective equipment – as well as to other emergency responders in the region.

The WAMIC research team created the face shield design and prototype, improving upon previous iterations shared online, and they’ve partnered with a local industry partner Jay-Line for its die-cutting services to accelerate the number of plastic shields pressed. WAMIC staff are completing the face shields with foam and Velcro and are currently producing upwards of 350 units per day, with plans underway to scale up even further. 

In addition to responding to local healthcare organizations, the College’s Research & Innovation division has received temporary approval for a Medical Device Establishment Licence (MDEL Class 1) to produce Health Canada-classified face shields in order to supply to other hospitals outside of the Niagara region. About 20,000 units will be donated out of region, with assembly completed at WAMIC. 

NC’s WAMIC research team is also supporting McMaster University researchers in their project to develop 3D-printed laryngoscopes for Hamilton Health Sciences. With some hospitals running out of laryngoscopes – which are needed for the intubation procedure for patients requiring assisted ventilation – and preparing for a potential a supply chain interruption, McMaster sought the expertise of NC’s WAMIC engineers to reverse-engineer sample units. The laryngoscopes will be manufactured by McMaster.

At NC’s Teaching Distillery, Brewery and Winery, workers are producing disinfectant products and are being donated to front-line healthcare and community organizations in Niagara. 

 

CONESTOGA COLLEGE

Researchers at Conestoga College’s Smart Manufacturing and Advanced Recycling Technologies are co-developing a geofencing software application for Conestoga Cold Storage that will help critical supply chain workers maintain physical distancing during a health crisis.

In Kitchener, researchers at Conestoga’s SMART (Smart Manufacturing and Advanced Recycling Technologies) Centre are co-developing a software application that will help critical supply chain workers maintain physical distancing during an emergency like the current pandemic. 

The prototype is being developed through an applied research project with Conestoga Cold Storage (CCS), a distribution and warehousing company that operates five highly automated cold storage warehouses in Canada and sees hundreds of truck drivers move between its facilities daily. 

The technology uses geofencing to monitor truck drivers as they approach CCS facilities, automatically processing the order, and eliminating the need for any in-person contact. With the current emphasis on physical distancing in place, discussions around how to further enhance the system are also taking place. 


MCMASTER UNIVERSITY

McMaster’s MMRI is working a number of industry partners to produce face shields for Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). The research team is also working to supply HHS with 3D laryngoscopes should a supply chain interruption occur.

In Hamilton, the McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI) is working on numerous projects to respond to the health crisis. 

MMRI has partnered with Whitebird Manufacturing to repurpose the company’s existing equipment to produce face shields for Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) without 3D printers. A local food packaging company has also offered rolls of plastic to make into shields, and local company Bra-Makers Supply is supplying elastic material for the face shield’s headband. 

Working with Hamilton Health Science (HHS), MMRI is focused on using its resources to validate the functional performance of existing ventilator designs to meet COVID-19 specific requirements after hearing reports that some of the current ventilators are not working as well as they had hoped to support patients. 

The research team is also working to supply HHS with 3D printed laryngoscopes to allow for intubation of patients while avoiding face-to-face contact, in order to minimize transfer of the virus. This is being established as an emergency supply scenario should supply chain interruptions occur. MMRI is working with Niagara College’s WAMIC in the reverse engineering process.

The research team has partnered with APMA (Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association) in a project to develop a process for mass sterilizing masks that others can use to support their mask production. They are also identifying high volumes of material that can be repurposed for personal protective equipment.

The MMRI team has also partnered with the diagnostic imaging department at Hamilton General Hospital, who have requested four specialized Lexan mobile guards to provide protection for ultrasound technicians.

 

LAMBTON COLLEGE 

Matthew Barnes, co-founder of Refined Fool Brewing Company, has partnered with Lambton Manufacturing Innovation Centre for assistance in distilling alcohol to produce hand sanitizer for donation to Bluewater Health.

Sarnia’s Lambton Manufacturing Innovation Centre (LMIC) at Lambton College has partnered with a local craft brewery, Refined Fool Brewing Company, to help them in the production of distilling alcohol to produce hand sanitizer for donation to Bluewater Heath. Their current mission is to provide 3,500 litres per week, initially. Part of the goal is to help the industry partner continue distilling alcohol in the future, with Lambton providing production training, lean manufacturing assistance and quality assurance/quality control. 

The LMIC team is also working on rapid prototyping services for the design and fabrication of personal protective equipment for Bluewater Health. The health-care workers are currently using masks that require two filter cartridges, which are no longer available, so are looking to double the filter life by capping off one of the ports to use on cartridge at a time. The LAMIC teach is reverse engineering the masks and will design and print 150 caps with custom gasket seals that can be dismantled, sterilized and reassembled by hospital staff.

The researchers are also working with partner Link2Feed, a company that provides emergency food organizations with software solutions to better manage operations and resources. With physical distancing requirements in place, LIMIC is helping Link2Feed with a tool that will allow an online client enrollment tool.

 

FANSHAWE COLLEGE

London-based Fanshawe College, through its Centre for Research and Innovation (CRI), has partnered with KGK Sciences and Brock University for the development and testing of peptide inhibitors against SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The goal is to develop peptide inhibitors of the NSP10/NSP16 protein complex responsible for the 2’-O-Methylation in SARS-COV-2. It is believed that the peptides, used as a therapeutic agent, could help the immune system more quickly detect and fight against the virus.

 

MOHAWK COLLEGE

Mohawk College’s Additive Manufacturing Resource Centre (AMIC) is answering the call for face shields to the Family Health Team in Cambridge.

AMIC’s research team is using their 3D printing technology to produce up to 1,000 face shield bands and assembling the elastic and visors received from an industry partner. 

 

SHERIDAN COLLEGE

The Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies (CAMDT) at Sheridan College has a number of projects on the go. 

For Trillium Health Partners (THP), the research team at CAMDT is 3D printing 1,000 head pieces for face shields, in addition to producing 1,000 mask ‘ear savers’ for front-line medical staff.

Hospital staff at the University Health Network’s Advanced Perioperative Imaging Lab is working with the CAMDT team in the design, testing and certification of reusable, foldable face shields that can be mass produced using laser-cutting or waterjet-cutting technology. The face shields have passed certification testing at a regulated laboratory. 

And, for the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, the CAMDT team is manufacturing 4,500 certified reusable face shields based on a foldable design. 

 

Since FedDev Ontario’s initial $7.3-million investment in 2016, the award-winning SONAMI has worked with more than 145 businesses to adopt next-generation manufacturing technologies and commercialize more than 144 products. With a growing client base, the consortium is slated to grow to 10 partners and enhance its reach into the manufacturing community.

Companies who have a project idea that will support this effort are asked to contact the SONAMI team to assess the project and connect you to the appropriate network partner:  Kithio Mwanzia, SONAMI Network Manager, [email protected] or Sarah Dimick, SONAMI Project Manager, [email protected]   

 

Industry partners stepping up to help frontline workers

Several past and current industry partners with NC’s Research & Innovation division are donating to or pivoting their businesses to help fight the pandemic. Some are contributing money for medical equipment and resources, while others have completely shifted their production to items to keep health-care workers safe on the front lines.

“We are proud to be affiliated with these companies and associations, as each one has readily demonstrated their generosity, ingenuity and willingness to do what they can in these unprecedented times,” notes Carolyn Mullin, associate director, Strategic Partnerships, Research & Innovation. “These all happen to be the same qualities that have made them excellent applied research project partners for us.”

 

NIA DONATES $110,000 FOR COVID-19 HOSPITAL EQUIPMENT

Members of the Niagara Industrial Association (NIA) have raised $110,000 for the Niagara Health Foundation to purchase ventilators and other essential hospital supplies to help improve outcomes for patients through the COVID-19 pandemic.

A fundraising effort launched at the beginning of April led by NIA co-founder Joe DeMan generated swift response and generosity from its membership.

Twenty-six companies, along with the NIA itself, contributed to the effort – several of whom are also past or current industry partners with Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, which is also an NIA member.

“The majority of NIA’s members – small- and medium-sized manufacturers and associated service providers – are essential to the maintenance of the critical supply chains in our economy,” says Don Cyr, NIA president. “They are particularly sensitive to the needs of people in the Niagara health care system, who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle.”

DeMan also praised the effort of Wendy Smith, the NIA’s operations manager, as being a “tireless support for us through this fundraiser. We cannot thank her enough.”

NIA members “answered our call for help at this critical time,” says Roger Ali, president & CEO of Niagara Health Foundation. “I am grateful for their support and how quickly they stepped up to raise $110,000 in such a short time frame.

“It speaks volumes to the heart and soul of these leaders, and the genuine concern they have for our community.”

Formed in 2007, the NIA is the leading voice and advocate for the manufacturing sector in Niagara. The Association pursues business development opportunities, provides its members with important industry information, and builds strategic partnerships and leverages programs and services that support industrial development.

 

HAMILL MACHINE CO. REMODELS TECHNOLOGY TO BATTLE HEALTH CRISIS 

Niagara Falls-based Hamill Machine Company Inc. is putting its 3D printers to widespread use in producing ‘ear savers’ for local front-line workers.

Ear savers, which come in a variety of forms and materials, are an innovative way to relieve the pressure on one’s ears while wearing a protective mask. Many essential workers are required to wear protective face masks for many hours.

Hamill’s product offers a 3D-printed plastic band that offers various sizing options for the face mask to attach to at the back of the head and can be sanitized and re-worn. The company has to date donated 400 of the ear savers to health workers in Niagara’s hospitals, says Bob Benner CEO, Hamill Agricultural Processing Solutions (APS).

Hamill APS has also pivoted its agricultural processing equipment production to develop a self-contained UV sanitizing system for personal protective equipment, such as face masks.

“It’s very simple to use and can run 24 hours a day,” says Benner, adding the unit can easily sit in any hallway ready for use.

“It is a conveyor-belt style, so you place your mask or item that you want sanitized onto the belt and remove it once it passes through the machine.”

The technology was originally designed for the microgreens industry and is being adapted for the sanitization application.

The Research & Innovation engineering team at Niagara College worked with Hamill APS to develop a new product line of agri-food equipment that automates the harvesting (cutting, washing and drying) of microgreens, sprouts and wheatgrass. The success of the project was possible thanks to support received through Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), an NC-led consortium of seven academic institutions funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

Hamill has been a long-time industry partner with the R&I division, and has worked with the research teams at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) and the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (AETIC).

Hamill Machine began as a general machine shop in 1948. Today they manufacture cutting-edge solutions for a variety of industries including wine and food producers in the US and Canada. They recently launched Hamill APS, a new subsidiary focused solely on the agricultural sector.

 

BISEP SHIFTING GEARS TO HELP FRONT-LINE WORKERS

A local entrepreneur has pivoted operations from manufacturing their award-winning assistive devices for people with mobility issues to producing face shields for the local healthcare system.

In January, Niagara Falls-based start-up Bisep Inc. began full-scale manufacturing of its new medical device that helps connect a person’s wheelchair to their walker, enabling unaided movement as it acts as a security bridge. The invention, named the ARMM (Ambulation, Retraining, Mobility, and Mechanism), is the brainchild of Bisep CEO and founder Daniel Bordenave.

Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) has worked with Bisep during the initial concept of its ARMM device, through to development of a final prototype thanks to support received through Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), an NC-led consortium of seven academic institutions funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

Bisep was in the process of manufacturing 1,000 units at Spark Niagara, a small manufacturing facility in Niagara Falls, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Bordenave has now shifted his operation to address the call for much-needed face shields to help frontline health and other essential workers.

Bordenave has converted his home office into a small-scale production facility where he is 3D printing and assembling the face shields and has teamed up with the Niagara Falls Ryerson Innovation Hub (NFRIH), to assist with distribution.

“After I print and assemble the face shields, I leave the box on my porch for a colleague of mine, David Robitaille from the NFRIH, to pick up and attach the hairbands and then drop them off to the frontline workers who need them,” says Bordenave.

He credits the successful face shield initiative to the support he’s receiving from the NFRIH and Spark Niagara. “They have helped to secure the supply chain of materials, as well as aided in the manufacturing and distribution of the shields.”

He is currently producing 100 face shields per week and donating to local hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes in addition to frontline essential workers who are helping in areas such as food banks.

“Essentially, Bisep is just returning the support we gained from the Niagara healthcare system, including the hospitals, the Niagara Region’s long term care facilities and retirement homes, as well as our local private healthcare facilities.”

Bordenave is asking if anyone is interested in helping to support this initiative, or knows of any facility that needs shields, to contact him at [email protected].

NC research team supporting COVID-19 efforts

Inside WAMIC labs, the 37,000 face shields are being assembled by research associate Brock Husak (top centre), a graduate of NC’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program and research assistant Tyler Winger (bottom left), an NC Electrical Engineering Technology graduate. R&I has partnered with Niagara-based Jay-Line for its die-cutting services.​

At the Research & Innovation labs at Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC), researchers are engaged in the production of 37,000 face shields – currently filling an order of 17,000 for the Niagara Health System in response to their increased demand for the protective equipment – as well as to other emergency responders in the region.

The WAMIC research team used computer-aided design to create the face shield prototype and has partnered with a local industry partner for its die-cutting services to accelerate the number of plastic visors pressed. Niagara-based Jay-Line is a trade-only manufacturer and commercial printer of promotional products and marketing materials. 

WAMIC staff are completing the face shields with foam and Velcro and are currently producing upwards of 350 units per day, with plans underway to scale up to 800 units per day. 

The face shields will be supplied at no cost to the NHS and other emergency responders in the Niagara region.  The material to produce the face shields alone is valued at more than $100,000, made possible through the support of FedDev Ontario.

In addition to responding to local healthcare organizations, the College’s Research & Innovation division has received temporary approval for a Medical Device Establishment Licence (MDEL Class 1) to produce Health Canada-classified face shields in order to supply to other hospitals outside of the Niagara region. About 20,000 units will be donated out of region, with assembly completed at WAMIC. 

Inside the advanced manufacturing labs at the Welland campus, the “production line” includes research assistant Tyler Winger, an NC Electrical Engineering Technology graduate and research associate Brock Husak, a graduate of the Mechanical Engineering Technology program.

For Winger, getting his first taste of production, even on a smaller scale, has been educational. “I’m learning a great deal – from delivery of raw materials, preparing the raw materials into the parts needed to make a shield, assembling the shield, packaging and delivery of the shields, and being involved in getting the correct certifications.

“To be able to contribute and do my part to the community has been a rewarding experience,” says Winger.

It has certainly been interesting switching gears from “research and innovation” to assembly line work for Husak, however, he says it’s all worth it knowing he’s helping the brave local hospital staff during these challenging times.

“It’s also nice knowing that our quality is very close to the quality of the normal shields that medical staff are used to,” Husak says. “One time after delivering a batch of shields to Niagara Health, a staff member in the shipping and receiving area said, ‘Niagara College? Yes! The nurses love your masks; thank you for donating them.’”

The WAMIC research team is also supporting McMaster University researchers in their project to develop 3D-printed laryngoscopes for Hamilton Health Sciences. Laryngoscopes are needed to guide the placement of a tube during the intubation procedure for patients needing assisted ventilation. Some hospitals may be unable to get laryngoscopes from usual suppliers and have no access to the drawings. To prepare for a supply chain interruption, WAMIC engineers are reverse engineering sample units and McMaster will manufacture.

WAMIC’s activities are in addition to a college-wide effort to donate more than 30,000 personal protective items to the Niagara Health Foundation for its front-line workers. The items were collected from various program areas and departments across the College’s two campuses. 

Staff members at NC’s Teaching Distillery – based at the College’s Daniel J. Patterson campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake – have been running the stills since mid-March to produce disinfectant products, with help from the College’s Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery, and SONAMI funding from FedDev Ontario. The products are being donated to front-line healthcare and community organizations in Niagara.

The special advanced manufacturing projects through R&I’s WAMIC labs are possible thanks to funding support from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), through the NC-led Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI).  

Niagara College is one of seven academic members of SONAMI that have mobilized in the fight against the health crisis. Read more about their efforts here.

“These important and responsive projects, enabled through an increased budgetary flexibility by FedDev Ontario, are supporting the dual goals of immediately helping those most in need during this crisis and of fighting against COVID-19 more generally,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, NC’s vice-president of Research, Innovation & Strategic Initiatives, and chair of the SONAMI Steering Committee.  

“It’s heartening to see these tremendous efforts from our SONAMI members who have jumped in to find innovative ways to help many people across the province and the country.” 

For more information about the applied research and technical services offered at R&I’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, visit the website. 

 

NC industry partner wins top prize for medical technology innovation

The research team for the ARMM project at WAMIC: Allan Spence, PhD, researcher and industry liaison; Yodha Singh, Mechanical Engineering Technology student and former research assistant; Dave McKechnie, laboratory technologist; Daniel Bordenave, Bisep CEO and founder; and Avery Edge, Mechanical Engineering Technology student and former research assistant.

Research & Innovation industry partner Bisep Inc. has taken first place at the Hamilton Synapse Life Science competition, held virtually last week, for its medical technology invention. 

The Niagara-based start-up won the top prize of $35,000 cash and $7,000 in-kind services for its medical technology innovation. Named the ARMM (Ambulation, Retraining, Mobility, and Mechanism), the device acts as a security bridge between a walker and a wheelchair and is the brainchild of Bisep CEO and founder Daniel Bordenave.

Bordenave undertook two engineering research projects with the team at Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre to help get his product to market. The company began commercialization of its new device in Niagara Falls at the beginning of the year.

Held at the Innovation Factory in Hamilton, the annual Synapse Competition is touted as the province’s premier life science pitch competition and is “dedicated to fostering the commercialization of innovation and the life science sector.”

Read about the award HERE

Read about the R&I project HERE

Optimizing productivity for local robotics company

A local robotics company has seen their assembly times cut in half and has experienced a “drastic” reduction in rework and quality issues. This is thanks to an engineering productivity assessment completed by Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC).

St. Catharines-based Factory Surplus Direct (FSD) is a source for automation and robotics parts and service. They are a global leader in supplying advanced automation and robotics parts and services with a team of engineering professionals.

When FSD was experiencing difficulties keeping up with the demand for their rebuilt robot cable harnesses and needed to improve productivity, they approached WAMIC, part of NC’s Research & Innovation division. 

The productivity assessment for FSD’s cable harness build laboratory started with an in-depth analysis in order to outline productivity improvements to reduce the time required to complete the refurbishment of robot cable harnesses, says Angela Naar, industrial engineer and research & industry liaison at WAMIC.

By improving their productivity and standardization with the cable harness rebuild process, it allows FSD to reduce their lead time, facilitate the expansion of their production process, and enables employees with a more diverse skill-set to complete their tasks successfully, explains Naar.

“Execution of the recommendations will allow FSD to increase productivity and ensure product quality, visually manage inventory, and provide flexibility in the skills future employees will require,” says Naar.

In recommending a documented standard process flow for the cable lab at FSD, the WAMIC research team conducted a review of the current process to help define the desired steps in the overall process and segregated the overall process into specific tasks for standardization.

These included such critical steps as having check sheets for identified tasks, processing documentation, tracking of employee skills, colour-coding storage areas, creating tool requirement lists – all things to help define the physical layout and work-station design needed to absorb business growth, as well as the addition of new employees.

“Essentially, the College helped us streamline and modify our manufacturing process to increase overall efficiency while allowing for multiple quality control measures to increase product reliability,” says FSD Robotics president Dave Burgess.

“They showed us areas of waste with regards to ergonomics, movement of assemblies, pre-process work and storage of supplies and tools,” he adds. “Assembly times have been cut in half, and we have already seen a drastic reduction in rework and quality issues.”

This project was funded by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), which provides up to 20 hours of access to the equipment, facilities, and expertise of a Technology Access Centre (TAC) to solve a specific business or technical challenge.

This is one example of the types of technical services offered at WAMIC lab. To discover other resources and capabilities, visit the website.