Nagoya, a Lesson in Advanced Manufacturing

By Michael Darch

Nagoya is the centre of Japan’s Automotive and Aerospace industries. The importance of these industries to the regional economies was illustrated by our visit to a Toyota plant in Toyota City.

Again, we saw the value of getting out to foreign cities to understand the changes that are shaping the global economy. As expected, the Toyota plant was highly automated. What I did not expect was the application of the latest technology in areas such as flexible manufacturing and RFID tags to produce production lines that were not defined by fixed tracks and fixed tooling. We did see flexible lines, handling multi models and with a blend of machines and people: a balance to get the best from machines and people to give the best product to the consumer.

Another education was the visit to a company specializing in advanced materials and composites. Its innovative products literally take pounds off automobiles and airplanes. Weight saving that translates to better energy consumption while often delivering better strength and safety. As usual, I always learn. Advanced composites are not just about producing better metals and plastics. Increasingly, it is about introducing new bio products. Lower weight, greater strength and environmentally friendly.

Continuing our interest in understanding innovation initiatives, we visited the Greater Nagoya Initiative Centre. Once again, we saw the importance attached to innovation to ensure competitiveness in an increasingly global economy. A particular point made on this stop was the importance of creating international alliances. As mentioned in an earlier blog, Japan is increasingly looking outward for collaboration and partnership. This municipal initiative is not only focused on innovation but as in Osaka, it places a premium on global knowledge, collaboration and partnership.

Once again, it is evident that Canada’s value equation has direct appeal to Japan. The recently released Global Markets Action Plan (GMAP) designates Japan as a priority geography and the sectors we are discussing, ICT, Life Science, Clean Technologies, Aerospace, Automotive and Food Processing, are all priority sectors.  GMAP also outlined Canada’s commitment to economic diplomacy, a concept familiar to Japan given its growing number of its bilateral trade and investment agreements. 

Michael Darch is the founding president of Consider Canada City Alliance.