When a company’s products sell to a highly selective audience for between £250,000 to £5m, one requirement stands out: the need for quality. At Sunseeker International, which builds some of the world’s most luxurious motor yachts, the end results are plain to see. Sunseeker’s craft emphasise meticulous dedication to ensuring every last detail is right. It’s the kind of dedication that, with 1,400 people, has helped to make the company one of Poole’s largest employers.

Sunseeker’s 70,000ft2 mill, part of the company’s new technology and production centre, provides all the interior fittings required, including kitchen, bedroom, living room and bathroom furniture. To keep the weight of its craft down, the company makes extensive use of 9mm ply. For carcassing, this material is surfaced in a cherry wood foil, with fronts and ends, some of them curved, normally having a matching grain frontage.

It’s an exacting and complex task and one which the company maintains has recently been greatly simplified by the introduction of modern CNC machine technology and the latest Cabinet Vision software.

Reduced time and costs

According to Sunseeker, using Cabinet Vision’s 3.5 version of its Solid design and production software has reduced both production time and costs and helped cut the chance of mistakes.

Following the company’s move to a single production site and investment in the CNC technology and software system, output has risen dramatically. It is now producing up to 300 motor yachts a year for a “burgeoning market”.

Sunseeker has had the new technology in place since May and, according to the company’s CNC specialist Bill Taylor: “We’re probably not yet halfway through what we can expect to achieve. There’s a lot more to come.”

All this forms part of Sunseeker’s new concentration on lean manufacturing – greater cost-effectiveness without loss of quality and with increased levels of output. In general, production time, said Mr Taylor, has been cut by half.

Although every one of Sunseeker’s yachts is bespoke to a greater or lesser degree (a recent customer stipulated a Porsche-silver finish and a helicopter landing pad) it does try to include an element of standardisation in sizes, at least in the case of cabinet furniture – although, it stresses, it is the kind of standardisation that is undetectable by customers.

The standardisation facilitated by the software and machinery is also accompanied by a greater design and production flexibility which Sunseeker says gives it a far greater scope to meet unusual demands. Previously, it had used a design and production package that, although providing a modest level of flexibility and an increase in previous levels of output, was limited in application.

Nested Based Manufacturing

Cabinet Vision’s 3.5 Solid software incorporates NBM (Nested Based Manufacturing), described by the company as one of the most effective routes to increased production efficiency and as having “a host of equally important features”.

Automatic production of accurate cut lists, bills of material, job costing during design, and machine-ready codes direct from designs, ensuring instant, precisely accurate production on CNC machinery, are all provided. The instantly-selected machining program will, in addition to a number of other time-saving features, automatically select the required spindles for the component being machined, determine the spindle speeds, as well as the feed speed for selected materials and components.

New features of Cabinet Vision’s 3.5 “screen to machine” software also include a redesign of its door catalogue, user-defined dimensioning and the introduction of CAD layering.

The door catalogue interface offers extensive scope for easier door design. This incorporates an ability to shape doors to fit into otherwise awkward spaces. This is displayed graphically and also transmits precise manufacturing data.

Further recent enhancements also ensure that door profiles can be displayed as an integral part of the door stiles and rails or as an added, lay-on moulding. For face frame construction, the facility of adding cott-beading as a separate item is available.

The layering options in 3.5 enable views to be displayed with various different attributes depending on individual company needs.

Rob Williamson, general manager, Cabinet Vision Europe, said: “What Cabinet Vision software aims to do is to simplify the otherwise complex, while providing pinpoint precision and raising levels of output. For many companies today, these are absolutely critical factors.

“Many have short production runs, even one-offs. With Cabinet Vision, designs are simple to create and for the machining requirements to be downloaded. It’s an instant fix. One moment, an operative may be dealing with one type of machining activity; the next job may be entirely different. Software solves the problem.”

The CNC machining centre Sunseeker selected is a two-table Bulleri. The combination of this equipment with the Cabinet Vision software, it says, has introduced a powerful new dynamic into its design and production activities. The company’s production centre is operating at throughput rates that once seemed unattainable. Output of carcassing has increased by 50%.

“When changes are necessary it’s merely the click of a mouse,” said Bill Taylor. “Today we’re right first time. There’s no need for any further processing. Once is enough.”