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College opens doors to new state-of-the-art Smart Factory

June 28, 2019

Today, with the help of collaborative robots Baxter, Sawyer and UR10, Red River College officially opened the doors to its brand new Smart Factory, a state-of-the-art learning facility and applied research space that will directly support Manitoba’s growing aerospace and manufacturing industries, and RRC’s applied research initiatives.

“Red River College has always been at the forefront of emerging technologies. The opening of the Smart Factory ensures that our students are well-equipped to face the challenges that the future workforce may hold, and to thrive in ever-changing environments,” says RRC President Paul Vogt (shown above, at right).

“These expansions have significant impacts in our community and beyond, as we provide unparalleled access to cutting-edge resources for our partners in the aerospace and manufacturing industries.”

Located inside RRC’s new Skilled Trades and Technology Centre, the Smart Factory is an experiential learning facility and technology demonstration site. It combines emerging technologies in metals additive manufacturing, collaborative robotics and autonomous factory vehicles, flexible robotic work cells, industrial automation, high-speed 3D laser metrology, industrial networking, and many more.

The new facility will enhance learning at RRC by allowing students to experience and work in factory settings. It will also provide Manitoba companies with access to state-of-the-art equipment, research and innovation expertise, and faculty and students — in order to evaluate, develop, demonstrate and implement new and emerging technologies.

The Smart Factory is the result of a $10-million investment — previously announced in 2017 — by the federal government through Western Economic Diversification Canada. In addition to supporting the development of the Smart Factory, this funding also supports the Phase 3 expansion of RRC’s Centre for Aerospace Technology and Training (CATT), located at StandardAero in Winnipeg.

StandardAero and RRC have committed to in-kind contributions of $4.5 million and $1.2 million, respectively, to support ongoing growth and innovation in the aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors. These new investments will directly support work that is underway in the Smart Factory.

“We’re investing in students and small- to medium-sized businesses so they can work together on a diverse range of research projects to boost economic development and create jobs across the country,” said Robert-Falcon Ouellette (above, at left), Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre, on behalf of the Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada.

“The Smart Factory, along with the other projects at RRC, will align the skills of students today with the industry needs of tomorrow, thereby strengthening local sectors and job creation in Manitoba.”

The CATT enhancements mark the centre’s third expansion, and include cold spray technology, high-speed non-contact inspection, robotic welding seam tracking, a compressor blade profiling system and upgrades of the existing digital X-ray system.