Robotics is a disruptive technology that is playing an increasingly important role in the manufacturing industry. We have the right environment – an ideal blend of industrial and consumer markets, supply chain clusters, and academia and research institutions – for robotics and automation companies to flourish.

Robotics is the future of manufacturing

As a disruptive technology, robotics offers many benefits to users.

Global demand for robotics will continue to grow through 2020 and beyond

The robotics market is projected to reach $41 billion by 2020. The average annual number of robots sold was approximately 115,000 units from 2005 and 2008. In comparison, 171,000 units were sold between 2010 and 2014 – a 48% increase.

By automating tasks, industrial automation and robotics offers tremendous advantages:

  • decreased labour costs
  • increased throughput
  • quality
  • safety
  • sharply improved productivity
  • enhanced competitiveness.

With Ontario's large manufacturing base and world-class R&D environment, the opportunity has never been greater for industrial automation companies to excel here.

Estimated worldwide annual supply of industrial robots
Year '000 of units
2002 69
2003 81
2004 97
2005 120
2006 112
2007 114
2008 113
2009 60
2010 121
2011 166
2012 159
2013 178
2014 229
Source: World Robotics 2015

Home to world-class companies and a broad supply chain

From design engineering firms and components suppliers to OEMs and systems integrators, Ontario has it all.

We are home to more than 350 automation and robotics-related companies, including Autodesk, Siemens, Rockwell Automation, Omron, Lapp Group, Denso Robotics, Schneider Electric, Toshiba, Universal Robotics, and ABB — the largest concentration of robotics and automation firms in Canada (both foreign-owned and domestic). We also have components and subsystems providers that offer software, machine vision, and automation solutions.

A MDA Corporation robotic system inspecting a nuclear reactor.
MDA Corporation's robotic system to inspect a nuclear reactor.

Leading OEMs and systems integrators that offer end-to-end solutions are also here. Their expertise spans a multitude of industries:

  • health sciences
  • energy
  • transportation
  • mining
  • industrial
  • consumer
  • food and beverage
  • pulp and paper
  • oil and gas
  • chemical
  • electronics
  • telecommunications

A diverse range of capabilities in industrial automation and robotics

Ontario's strengths span multiple industries including industrial, surgical and mobile robotics, as well as control products, drones, and space exploration.

It's not like it's brain surgery or rocket science. Actually, it is

Ontario companies are renowned for their innovations in the robotics sector, some specializing in brain surgery and rocket science:

  • MDA Corporation in Brampton, makers of the world famous Canadarm, produce space exploration systems as well as surgical robots such as the neuroArm.
  • ATS Automation in Cambridge is a complete automation solutions provider for medical devices, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, semiconductors, fiber optics, automotive systems, computers, solar energy and consumer products.
  • Clearpath Robotics in Kitchener designs and manufactures autonomous warehouse vehicle solutions.
  • Deep Trekker in Ayr designs and manufactures remotely operated underwater vehicles, unique to anything else in the subsea vehicle market.
  • Synaptive Medical, a start-up from Toronto, has developed an integrated optical imaging and robotic automation system for neurosurgeons.

Select list of global supply chain players in Ontario:

  • Design, R&D and IP companies: OneCAD Solutions Ltd, Automation Design Group, Autodesk
  • Components and subsystems: Honeywell, Emerson, Beckhoff, Autonics, Omron, Lapp Group, Rockewell Automation, Simens, Turck, SMC, Memex, Teledyne Dalsa
  • OEMs (machines, robots, tooling): ABB, Festo, Kuka Robotics, Rethink Robotics, Adept, Hibar Systems, 2G Robotics, CimCorp, Tiercel Technology
  • Systems integrators: Bluewrist, Liburdi, M&R Automation, Eclipse, Tech-Con Automation, Valiant, StrongPoint, Reko, Radix, ABI Automation, Inovatech
A KUKA Robotics Arm assisting in the production of Silfab Solar Panels.
A KUKA Robotics Arm assists in the production of Silfab Solar Panels.

Opportunities abound in Ontario

Ontario companies are poised to take advantage of the many benefits industrial automation and robotics offer.

Significant opportunities to fill automation gaps

The province's robust automotive industry accounts for 57% of the robots used in Ontario, followed by the food and beverage sector at 9%. The gap between the automotive and the less automated sectors in Ontario represents a significant opportunity for companies to market. These industries are primed to adopt robotics technologies to keep pace with global trends towards automation.

Ontario has a large manufacturing base across many sectors:

  • automotive
  • food manufacturing
  • chemicals
  • metals
  • machinery
  • computers and electronics
  • plastics and rubber
  • transportation and paper.
Top 10 Manufacturing Sectors in Ontario
(% of Ontario Manufacturing GDP)
Sectors % of Ontario Manufacturing GDP
Auto 16.7
Food Manufacturing 11.6
Chemicals 7.8
Fabricated Metals 7.5
Primary Metals 6.3
Computer and Electronics 6.0
Plastics and Rubber 5.6
Transportation 4.9
Paper 3.4
Source: Statistics Canada, GDP data, average annual contribution to GDP 2007-12

World‐class education uniquely suited to industrial automation and robotics

Ontario's innovative and collaborative ecosystem includes a strong post‐secondary education and training infrastructure.

Ontario has the skilled labour required to be a leader in industrial automation and robotics. There are many programs available in the province, with applications in robotics, automation, controls, electronics and mechatronics, at the college, undergraduate and graduate levels.

  • 24 of the province's colleges offer automation and robotics-related programs
  • 14 universities offer industrial engineering degrees
  • Four universities offer mechatronics programs
  • Apprenticeship programs for more than 150 skilled trades in multiple sectors, including construction, manufacturing and automotive

This focus provides the talent required to undertake robotics‐related research, such as space robotics, drone technologies, autonomous ground vehicles, and underground/underwater applications.

Brandon Chen from the University of Toronto Nanofabrication Centre presenting a nano robot used inside of an electron microscope.
Brandon Chen from the University of Toronto Nanofabrication Centre presents a nano robot used inside of an electron microscope.

Ontario is a hub for robotics research and innovation

Ontario's mix of industry, academia and support programs offer the perfect environment to nurture R&D and fuel innovation.

R&D and commercialization of new and advanced robotics applications in Ontario have been predominantly driven by academic research networks:

  • The Canadian Surgical Technologies and Advanced Robotics centre is a collaborative research facility at the University of Western Ontario that integrates the research, development, testing and commercialization of novel surgical robotic techniques.
  • Canada's Technology Triangle in the Waterloo region is an advanced technology hub and innovation centre that features more than 1,000 technology firms in addition to active start-ups, and several post-secondary institutions.
  • The Canadian Centre for Field Robotics at York University is using Canada Foundation for Innovation funding to create a field robotics laboratory for research into terrestrial (ground contact) robotic vehicles capable of operating in complex outdoor environments, unmanned aerial vehicles, aquatic (surface) robotics and unmanned underwater vehicles.
  • The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto has received $10 million from FedDev Ontario to further develop the KidsArm robotic surgical system, the first pediatric technology of its kind in the world.
MDA Corporation's KidsArm the first guided robotic surgical arm.
MDA Corporation's KidsArm the First Image‑Guided Robotic Surgical Arm

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