Koss Aerospace explain the benefits of manufacturing in Ontario and the importance of automation.
Could you walk us through Koss Aerospace’s main milestones?
In 1975, Koss Aerospace started manufacturing components for De Havilland’s DH-7 and McDonnell Douglas’ MD-80 and DC-10. Although we still manufacture for these same customers—now Bombardier and Boeing—we have significantly grown in size. We originally serviced local customers, but have evolved to more international markets, and now export the majority of our sales.
We manufacture structural aircraft components comprising of high-speed, multi-axis machining found on commercial aircraft wings, doors, and the bones of the aircraft. We are also involved in sub-assemblies and metal finishing, so we are able to provide surface treatments. In Mississauga we do three, four, and five-axis machining, primarily aluminium and high-speed raw materials. We are vertically integrated to offer our customers complete machining, sub-assembly, and metal finishing without relying on third-party customers.
What makes Koss Aerospace a partner for large OEMs?
OEMs are pressuring companies across the value chain to increase productivity and lower costs. Automation provides us an opportunity to compete efficiently and profitably in the market, and it enhances our performance and our ability to provide on-time delivery. Additionally, our machining capabilities are unique in the industry.
Our sourcing of raw materials is customer-driven. For example, Boeing dictates for us where to source the materials. Similarly, Bombardier has their umbrella of preferred local sources.
What is the strategic advantage of being based in Ontario and Mississauga specifically?
Ontario has a good infrastructure for world-class manufacturers. Over the years, companies have grown and their capabilities have become more sophisticated. There is a broad spectrum of SMEs in Ontario with advanced capabilities. The competitive landscape in Ontario is strong, but the market is broad enough for everyone to prosper. Therefore, our niche focus is aluminium, and there are few players as strong as us in this regard.
Mississauga has a strong pool of skilled workers for the aerospace industry, which is crucial for our business. On our processing side, we source surface treatment and other services from local companies. We are also strategically located close to Pearson Airport.
Moreover, we have taken advantage of Federal Funds such as TPC, propelling us to the next level. The funds have allowed us to implement new technologies and grow our business. There are not many companies with our equipment, which has opened the doors for us to undertake larger components and parts manufacturing, creating a vacuum of business. Fed Dev Ontario has also recently provided us with funds that have allowed us to acquire automated technologies to accommodate the Airbus project and capitalize on new business.
What are some of the challenges aerospace companies are facing in Ontario?
The industry is struggling with involving the younger generation in aerospace. Aerospace has an aging workforce, and Ontario needs to work on developing their young workforce for the coming generation. The growth in skill development is the main challenge in the region.
What are some changing trends in the aerospace industry and how is Koss Aerospace adapting?
There are increased market pressures for low-cost solutions. Our clients are looking for a low-cost footprint, and we have adapted by incorporating automation into our processes and decreasing labor costs. Our automated machines allow us to manufacturing in one third of the time compared to standard machines. Automation allows us to compete internationally, without outsourcing and driving business out of the country to Mexico or China. In terms of pressures to being more environmentally sustainable, we recycle all of our aluminium and have also installed pucking machines to recover fluid to be recycled.
What is your strategy for growth going towards the future?
We are on every major platform for Bombardier, and there is growth in these activities. There are also development opportunities in our Airbus and Boeing platforms. With the right programs and the best technology in place, we will sustain growth in the future and remain competitive. We have had growth every year and are looking at sustainable growth in the future.
What is your final message to our international readership?
Ontario has world-class infrastructure and the stronger our companies get, the more we will attract international business. Koss Aerospace supports the growth of the sector.