In Québec, the manufacturing sector is comprised of 10 000 businesses that employ over 450 000 people. At the beginning of the new millennium, this sector represented 21% of GDP, but drastically decreased to just 14%. Nevertheless, year after year, the manufacturing sector represents nearly 50% of total R&D investments and 90% of exports. Today, Québec’s manufacturing sector is no longer in decline. In fact, 10 out of the 17 administrative regions are experiencing an increase in their manufacturing GDP. However, the gap that was created during the 2000s caused significant, long-term impact. The solution to mitigate this impact? Automation and innovation right on the production floor.

Help from the Québec government

Last April, the Québec government announced that it would invest $700 million over three years in innovation in the manufacturing sector through the Fonds d’Investissement Québec and the Fonds de développement économique. Dominique Anglade, Québec’s Ministre de l’Économie indicated that these funds were to be dedicated to companies that focused on implementing robotics, automation and other sophisticated technologies. She also explained that these measures would create new jobs—not cut any—as businesses would become more productive and increase their market shares. 

Since October 2016, governmental representatives have been visiting manufacturers across Québec in order to inform and encourage them to take advantage of the investments to make their businesses more productive and competitive. Québec is determined to usher its manufacturing industry into a new era in which it will once again become the province’s driving economic force.  

Why automation matters 

Automation and Industry 4.0 offer numerous benefits. They allow manufacturers to:

  • Increase their productivity and profitability 
  • Improve product quality 
  • Win major contracts  
  • Become more competitive 
  • Improve health and safety for its employees
  • Offer better salaries thanks to productivity gains 

In other words, automation is the key to manufacturers’ long-term viability. Plombco is a compelling example of the benefits of automation. The company decided to automate most of its production at the beginning of the new millennium. Martin Lussier, Plombco’s president told the Les Affaires newspaper that without automation, the company would have never survived in the North American market due to competitors from Asia. 

Québec manufacturers have a very good reputation in international markets. They are considered innovative entrepreneurs. Manufacturers should leverage this reputation to penetrate new markets and commercialize their products using an effective, bold and targeted commercialization strategy. 

The worldwide manufacturing industry is undergoing nothing less than a new industrial revolution. It’s time for your company to seize the opportunities, such as government funding and trade agreements with the US and European Union.


Normand, François. L’automatisation, une question de survie. Les affaires. 13 juin 2015.

Radio-Canada. Québec mise sur le secteur manufacturier « innovant » pour relancer l’économie. 14 avril 2016.

Carenza, Dyanne. Exportation : les nouveaux défis des manufacturiers québécois. Manufacturiers exportateurs du Québec. Avril 2016.

Tournée Manufacturière. Conférences. Hôtel Plaza Québec. 31 janvier 2017.

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