My group was lead by Lead Quality Assurance Engineer, Freddy Birchfield, who was excellent; sharing great information and insight into each departments key staff, procedures, production steps and Sea Ray's continuous efforts to streamline production time while insuring maximum quality. Starting in the wood shop, you see the "ribs and guts" of the different Sea Ray models that are built at this location. Next we passed several forms, including this one here for a 45 sedan bridge.
Can you believe that from this point, this facility and staff are capable of producing this yacht pictured above completed and shipped within an average of 17 days? Yeah, I know! Amazingly, even with that crazy production time, everything on site is quality controlled and analyzed several times to insure quality and conformity to Sea Ray high standards. Here, tour guide and Lead Q.A. Engineer, Freddy Birchfield (right, with back to camera) explains how purple helps plant workers to identify and correct imperfections in the hull of a 47 Sundancer Hull. That is a filling compound that is stained purple to see in all that oyster white...
As the yachts move through the plant, and specifically here in the lamination department, all the major pieces of the hull and structure travel together to insure quality and scheduling. Here are several 45ft plus Sea Ray's coming to life.
Leaving the fabrication and lamination departments, we pass some nearly completed yachts getting the finishing touches of pinstripes, chrome and additional electronics installed prior to shipping or launch.
Anyone got a spare engine? Oh wait, these guys do...never mind!
Passing the racks of engines and mechanical parts waiting for their new homes, we enter into the Galley Fabrication departments, including; the woodshop, shelving, and trim carpentry. This plant has a full woodshop that gives them the ability to fabricate any and all necessary pieces including the cabinetry, forms, etc. So don't be thinking that Sea Ray ships out for your holds next time you go below...all that was handmade by someone with a Sea Ray logo on their shirt. Below, Freddy explains the interior fabrication process and materials tracking system the Sea Ray plant employees use to insure quality control (At this point we all realize how much Freddy is into QUALITY, hence the corporate title).
Here you see a partially completed galley for a 45 Sedan Bridge from Sea Ray, which as Freddy explains it, are finished entirely in the fabrication department and placed in the hulls prior to the caps being placed over.
Leaving the Galley department, we come to the final assembly building where the hull, the interior, the engines, all the major wiring and electronics installations are completed. At the end of this building shall emerge a working yacht in just a few days...maybe even before the weekend. Just in time!
Final stop on the tour, the launch deck where all yachts produced at this facility are launched for sea trials and water-based testing. Here you see the lifts, as well as the "Hurricane Slip"; this is where your favorite SEa Ray Yacht was blasted by over a dozen high-pressure nozzles for over 30 minutes! Talk about overkill...but it is something that SR/Meridian demand for their models. At the same time, a smoke test is also performed from the engine compartment to insure that no leaks exist between the bay and the cabin.
All in all, the Sea Ray plant tour is an excellent learning experience for any owner or brand enthusiast. Here you will learn not only about the very cool yachts that this amazing crew produce, but also about the people, about their dedication to making something special for others to enjoy. The amount of time, money and effort that has been put into this facility, its operations and its people is admirable, especially given the current economic environment and the high-end nature of their products, that will continue to payoff for this location and this company for some time to come. I would recommend that anyone interested in learning more about the amazing boat building process try and get on the next trip that Parker Boats is able to arrange.
Thanks for having me Sea Ray!
Owner - 2009 Sea Ray 230 sundeck, 6 time Parker Boat owner and Guest Blogger