Research Partnerships and Innovation

Research Partnerships & Innovation


Collaboration with KAP and UM is ready to roll: Mini Training Tractor revealed

July 16, 2020

A collaboration between the University of Manitoba (UM), Red River College (RRC) and Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) driven by the need for an agricultural safety training tool, has produced a unique vehicle that will help predict, teach and demonstrate tractor roll overs.

The Mini Roll Over Training Tractor (Mini ROTT) was demonstrated at the UM’s Glenlea Research Station on July 16. Approximately the size of an average lawn tractor but with the appearance of a traditional tractor, the radio-controlled Mini ROTT will be used for teaching and demonstration of roll overs and activities that will enhance students’ and farmers’ understanding of farm safety practices.

“Keystone Agricultural Producers is proud to be a part of the roll over training tractor (ROTT) project through our Manitoba Farm Safety Program,” says Bill Campbell, President, KAP. “We look forward to using this innovative tool to further promote the need for safety awareness and training across our sector to reduce the risk of serious injury in the operation of tractors and large equipment on farms across the province. The partnership we have forged with the University of Manitoba and Red River College shows the importance of our industry to this province and showcases some of the brightest minds and ingenuity we have here in Manitoba.”

The project was initiated by the UM’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences to supplement hands-on safety workshops developed for diploma students and farmers.  The UM teamed up with KAP’s Manitoba Farm Safety Program staff to explore the concept of a remote-controlled tractor as an interactive training tool for teaching roll over prevention strategies.

“The Faculty, especially the farm safety training leaders in our School of Agriculture, are keenly engaged in farm safety training, both for our students and for our wider agricultural community,” says Martin Scanlon, Dean, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, UM. “We were excited to partner with Keystone Agricultural Producers and Red River College to create this novel training tool that will assist the University of Manitoba in delivering potentially life-saving knowledge to the next generation of Manitoba producers. This project underlines the high value and mutual benefit of collaboration with talented industry partners and other educational institutions.”

UM and KAP then engaged with RRC’s Technology Access Centre for Aerospace & Manufacturing (TACAM) and Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC) for the fabrication process. The research staff at TACAM designed and built the tractor, with support from the VTEC team on the electronics and systems control components.

“Working with Keystone Agricultural Producers and the University of Manitoba on the roll over training tractor (ROTT) is the perfect demonstration of the value of applied research: providing tangible solutions to real-world problems,” says Fred Meier, President & CEO, RRC. “The ROTT highlights the skill and expertise of our TACAM and VTEC teams, and now that we’ve created this first product we’re excited to explore similar projects in the future. We’re proud to play a role in farm safety awareness and supporting the agriculture industry in Manitoba.”

Going forward, the Mini ROTT will be housed at the Glenlea Research Station and utilized for farm safety training for post-secondary students and Manitoba farmers. The Manitoba Farm Safety Program and UM staff plan to collaborate on expanded tractor training and develop programs aimed at creating a safer agri-food industry.

Funding for the project came from a variety of sources, including the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Endowment Fund, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada through Red River College’s TACAM and VTEC-Innovation Enhancement grants, and Keystone Agricultural Producers.

TACAM lends assets and expertise to fight against COVID-19

April 2, 2020

A typical day for RRC’s Technology Access Centre for Aerospace & Manufacturing (TACAM) includes working alongside aerospace and manufacturing industry partners to address local innovation needs.

But these are not typical days. In response to the global fight against COVID-19, TACAM is using their assets and expertise to support an important partner, CancerCare Manitoba, in the production of much-needed medical equipment.

File photo from RRC’s Nursing program

Responding to a need for more IV poles, TACAM is currently supporting the production of 100 new wheelbases for the poles. Specifically, the team is helping to manufacture 500 castor mounts for the wheelbases, which require 5 castor mounts per wheelbase.

“We’re proud to be able to leverage our assets and expertise in digital manufacturing to support CancerCare Manitoba and the incredible work they’re doing,” says Dele Ola, Ph.D., P.Eng., Director, TACAM. “We are prepared to help to support our healthcare system during this critical time in any way we can.”

While CancerCare Manitoba is well-resourced to manufacture their own equipment, the short timeframe and sheer scale of equipment required means they need to outsource certain aspects of the IV pole production. TACAM’s capabilities are well-suited to the large-scale and rapid production of equipment like the IV pole wheelbases.

“CancerCare Manitoba appreciates the ability of RRC’s TACAM to support us in the manufacturing of these components,” says Keith Sutherland, Business and Innovation Officer at CancerCare Manitoba. “TACAM’s specialized machinery allows for quicker manufacturing, which allows us to get the required IV poles into the hands of hospital staff much quicker than if we had to manufacture them on our own.”

TACAM has also signed up with Health Canada as a potential supplier of services should they need help in manufacturing medical equipment and/or devices, and have responded to a call from the National Research Council Canada (NRC), which asked to share TACAM’s capabilities in case additional support for medical equipment and devices is required.

TACAM’s capabilities include additive manufacturing/3D printing, reverse engineering, and many aspects of advanced digital manufacturing that can be quickly deployed in the production of articles needed in the fight against COVID-19.

Read about the Smart Factory in Polytechnic Canada’s Applied Research Compendium

November 26, 2019

Polytechnics Canada has recently published a compendium on Applied Research: Building a Stronger Canada, and Red River College’s Smart Factory gets a mention for its value in emerging technologies in metal additive manufacturing, collaborative robotics, autonomous factory vehicles, flexible robotic work cells, industrial automation and networking, and high-speed 3D laser metrology.

View the entire compendium here, and see page 3 for more on Red River College and the Smart Factory.

Jet Fuel Icing Simulation and Characterization Phase 2

October 8, 2019

The Opportunity

SCADA screenshot

Ice formation within aircraft fuel systems has been the subject of research studies, especially in the last decade, with a number of industry-academic projects sourced in the USA and Europe. RRC’s TACAM has engaged in various stages of jet fuel icing research under two project agreements with MDS and EnviroTREC (also representing their OEM partners: Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce) since 2013. During the course of these two projects many tasks were performed, such as literature survey; lab-scale experimentation of ice formation in fuel; design, set-up and initiation of a sub-scale fuel rig; integration of water sensor with fuel rig and proDAS system to capture new data. Throughout these investigations, limitations of equipment (instrumentation, physical components of the rig, and computer operating systems) have been identified. With the goal of improving accuracy of test conditions and repeatability of data, work scope of Phase 2 was determined.

Rig set-up

The Approach

The project team’s primary focus was on increased instrumentation, refinement of systems control and improved data acquisition capability. The fuel rig was entirely redesigned to provide consistent flow and temperature control, including incorporation of heat exchanger and a circulating bath with improved cooling range. Discrete experiments measuring parts per million water content within temperature ranges of -20°C ≤ T ≤ 20°C at a constant flow rate were then conducted to assess performance capability of the new system.

The Outcomes

A controllable recirculating fuel rig capable of achieving repeatable temperature set points, and flow rate of interest. Improved instrumentation capability for conducting experiments to understand temperature-dependent changes in water content in Jet A1 fuel.

The Benefits

MDS Pro-DAS system

  • Availability of instrumentation and lab-scale setup for ice crystals characterization in jet fuels.
  • Provision of empirical data on the behavior of unadulterated fuel exposed to extreme temperature differential


“The Red River College team has successfully developed a unique capability to study, characterize and control ice formation in aircraft fuel systems. This experimental capability offers us the opportunity to investigate the effects of ice formation in fuels under a variety of concentrations and temperatures thus leading to safer, more efficient fuel systems.”

– David Simpson, Executive Director, EnviroTREC



Trouble-shooting Surface Mount Technology for Printed Circuit Boards: Parker Hannifin

June 10, 2019

The Opportunity 

Equipment set-up at Parker Hannifin

Parker Hannifin uses the surface mount technology (SMT) for circuit board assembly. Hundreds of parts are picked and placed in a matter of seconds. Defects such as missing and wrong orientation of parts were being observed during final quality inspection/testing. These defects mostly occur in chips about 3 x 1 x 1 mm in size and are usually undetected by automatic inspection techniques built into the production process, resulting in lengthy rework or outright scrapping of the parts. 

The Approach 

RRC’s expertise in high speed imaging was leveraged by Parker Hannifin to study and determine the root cause of the assembly defects. The “pick and place” processes were studied, using in-production and off-production simulated circuit boards. Large imaging data were analyzed to determine the problem. 

The Outcomes

A closer look at the SMT process

As observed by high-speed imaging, the root cause of the assembly defects is the flipping and “misorientation” of parts in the pockets of unnoticeably faulty twin-tape part feeders. These feeders were isolated for repair/replacement. 

The Benefits 

  • Flexible and responsive access to emerging technology and technical expertise with reduced cost to Parker Hannifin 
  • Determination of the root-cause of a problem that disrupts / halts production activities 


Part missing due to dislodgment

 “Collaboration with RRC was instrumental in finding the true root cause of our “pick” issue. Finding and correcting the root cause gave us a significant step improvement in quality and productivity” 

— Bob Dann, Technical Services Manager 


Performance Optimization of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines in the Prairies: Kelso Energy LTD.

June 10, 2019

The Opportunity 

Kelso Energy LTD. manufactures vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) that meet the electricity demands of cellphone towers, isolated communities, research centres, agricultural farms, cottages, ranches, and many other unique applications. Operational efficiency of the VAWT requires performance optimization, which is difficult to achieve by field-testing and trial & error approaches. Kelso also experiences significant fabrication problems including inconsistent product quality, longer fabrication times, and laborious design modifications due to lack of a standardized design blueprint. 

CFD data and flow field

The Approach 

Performance optimization of VAWTs is a fluid flow problem, which is usually difficult to replicate using small-scale prototypes in laboratory environments. Kelso collaborated with TACAM on (1) the 3D CAD modeling to create a blueprint, and (2) analyzing various materials-design-fluid flow parameters for performance optimization of the VAWT, using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). 

The Outcomes 

TACAM delivered a complete blueprint of the 5 kW VAWT to Kelso Energy in Fall 2017 and delivered final optimized design developed using results from CFD in January 2018. Kelso Energy is currently fabricating the VAWT based on the designs submitted as part of this project. 

The Benefits 

  • Availability of standardized blueprint for product performance analysis and improvement 
  • Significant cost savings of product performance improvement

    Installation of Kelso’s Vertical Axis Wind Turbine


Kelso Energy was very pleased with the professionalism of the Technology Access Centre team. The CFD work and the completed blueprints helped in moving our company forward in performance and promotion of the turbines. Kelso realized a significant increase in the overall power output of the VAWT. This work provided Kelso with a uniform and easy-to-understand set of blueprints used for production and bidding process for components. We realized increased sales and ROI.”



Building Stronger Bonds in New Sensors: iders

June 10, 2019

The Opportunity 

Developing robust sensors for harsh environments requires innovation and the opportunity to access emerging technology. Iders Incorporated is developing a new device for measuring structural distortions in rail lines. Fabrication of the device requires the use of advanced welding or joining processes to support dissimilar metal bonds.

Building robust sensors for rail safety

The Approach 

A custom procedure based upon micro-laser welding was developed for fabricating the device. RRC contributed expertise in laser processing of materials and provided direct access to the right laser technology at the CATT Centre. 

The Outcomes 

A number of unique micro laser joints which meet the required performance characteristics were produced in the sensor assembly. Subsequently, several assemblies were fabricated at the CATT Centre as part of Iders pre-production prototyping and field testing programs 

The Benefits 

  • Flexible and responsive access to emerging technology and technical expertise for the project 
  • Reduced cost for process development – absolutely no initial capital cost to Iders 
  • Fabrication of new sensor prototypes without disrupting regular production 


Micro-laser welding to support new sensor development

“RRC’s expertise and capabilities through the CATT Centre allowed us to overcome a significant materials and fabrication problem associated with an advanced sensor we are trying to bring to market. Our technical problem was solved, quickly and efficiently.” 

— David Fletcher, VP and COO, iders 


Robotic End-of-Arm Tooling for Specific Load Application on Medical Sensor Mats: Vista Medical

May 16, 2019

The Opportunity

Vista Medical manufactures pressure sensors in the form of fabrics and mats for the medical and sports industries. In the case of hospital beds, Vista’s pressure fabrics can help to identify uncomfortable parts of a patient’s body through pressure maps. The pressure maps can then be used to redistribute pressures on the bed for attaining the required comfort level. Vista uses a pressure table connected to a computer software for calibration and pressure verification, where load application is done manually. Vista collaborated with TACAM to develop a robotic solution.

TACAM staff assembling the robotic tooling system

The Approach

A tool system to be used for specific load application on Vista’s sensor mat was designed, fabricated and integrated with the UR10 collaborative robot. This work included 3D CAD design of the end-of-arm tool, tool fabrication and integration, implementation of a load measurement device and testing of the tool at Vista Medical.

The Outcomes

A prototype robotic tool was developed to address the problem of lack of accurate predetermined loads on Vista’s verification system.

The Benefits

  • Improvement in accuracy of calibration and verification process for Medical sensor mats
  • Efficient and reliable product design and testing


 “RRC Team understood the mechanism of the pressure sensor array and was prompt in developing the proof of concept to demonstrate what could be accomplished by using Universal COBOT, an important step in moving forward with automating verification system. “

—Ashok Dhawan P.Eng, Engineering Manager

The project team




With support from:


Building Repair Welding Capability for MRO Services – CARIC DPHM 711

May 14, 2019

The Opportunity

Selected figures from the DPHM 711 project

At TRL levels 4-6, the CARIC DPHM 711 was a multi-party, 2.5 year-long, $1.4M project. The objective was to determine the suitability of select advanced welding technologies for the repair of Al and Mg alloys for applications in the repair of fan frames, fan cases, and gearbox housing.

Comprehensive research including process development and optimization, metallurgical analysis, and standardized testing efforts was conducted to address the welding challenges leading to quality problems in selected aerospace Al and Mg alloys.

The Approach

CMT and Laser equipment set up and training of key technical staff, initial experimentation to establish process parameter, design of experiment (DOE) and statistical analysis, process optimization, metallurgical, mechanical and corrosion evaluation, and simulated weld repair demonstrations were performed on scrap gearbox housing and engine case.

The Outcomes

Following a comprehensive study, DOE, process optimization, iterative experimentation, quality evaluations, microstructure analysis, mechanical tests, and corrosion studies, simulated weld repair demonstrations were performed on scrap gearbox housing and engine case. 

The Benefits

  • Generation of new innovative processes
  • Improvement in competitiveness and unique MRO services
  • Expanding the frontiers of knowledge in advanced welding


Cold Metal Transfer (CMT) welding in operation

“The DPHM 711 project was StandardAero’s first foray into a CARIC research project. We had a very successful partnership with Red River College and the other project collaborators. The project results will be used for both research reference and strategic repair development planning – allowing us to position ourselves as a market leader in MRO activities.”

— Andrew Harvey C.E.T., Manager, Repair Development Engineering, StandardAero Component Services – Canada


Manitoba and the factory of the future

March 6, 2018

Red River College’s Kevin Dickson in one of the college facilities. Photo: Winnipeg Free Press.

Red River College was featured in the latest issue of Prairie Manufacturer Magazine. The article highlighted how Manitoba is leading the charge in the evolution of advanced manufacturing, and that the College is playing a central role. Read More →