Rick Baldin doesn’t like to hear pessimistic talk about the state of manufacturing in Niagara.
The Research & Innovation faculty lead knows first-hand there are plenty of opportunities for skilled workers, and plenty of partnership possibilities for industry with Niagara College.
The former GM engineering team leader has been putting his skills to the test in Niagara’s advanced manufacturing division, working on projects that develop efficient, quality-driven processes.
His past coaching and managing teams of engineers, tradespeople, and production workers, ensuring all objectives are met under strict timelines, translates well into his role in the Technology Research Lab.
“Companies call us, instead of consultants, because consultants will give you a report, but we will actually come in and work with that company on a project to implement something that works.”
What’s more, the new processes are implemented without interrupting the existing manufacturing systems.
For example, Baldin’s team recently worked on a LEAN manufacturing workcell project with Calhoun Sportswear. The old way involved shipping bulk quantities to large suppliers, but with an e-commerce plan came the need to promptly respond to one-time custom online orders. Baldin and his student research assistant were able to research, develop and implement the system, which reduced labour requirements while still allowing next-day delivery of custom-built products.
In all projects, Baldin says he adheres to five metrics: safety, quality, people (working with industry partners), responsiveness (meeting deadlines) and cost efficiency.
Baldin, who holds a Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Mechanical Engineering, has taught at Niagara College since 2008. Courses include Dynamics, Manufacturing Processes, Materials Technology, Physics, Machine Design, Quality Improvement Tools, Health and Safety for Technology, and Computer Applications.
Much of Baldin’s spare time is spent either coaching competitive soccer or watching his two sons play in youth sports.