We recently visited one of the most important shipyards in Europe. The facilities that Jeanneau have in Les Herbiers, (Les Bois Verts, in the Vendée) for the construction of boats of between 42 and 75 feet are some of the most modern and spectacularly designed. The Investment in technology, materials, facilities, qualified personnel and other assets is extraordinary, to the extent that in only ten years Jeanneau's Prestige range has positioned itself as market leader in its sector, with a production of more than 220 units per year.
But the key thing is not quantity (in this case) but quality. The ability to build vessels with such level of detail and meticulousness requires not only efficiency, but also heavy investment in machinery, logistics and other aspects requiring the highest ISO approvals, among other things.
But what is striking about the brand is not only that its prices are among the most competitive in the international market, but also that the quality levels are at the optimum level required for this type of product.
Standardization of production does not always mean less quality.
Moulds made using digital technology; construction of inner mouldings, hatches and other parts through vacuum techniques; optimized assembly lines with the purpose of standardizing the manufacture; fabrication of the furniture externally, and a meticulous testing for two years before launching each Model, provides the best final results. Or even the adoption of single automation in order to simplify work on the assembly line. What we call linked manufacturing, where possible, but with the most advanced technology.
For boats of between 15 and18 metres, for example, the saving of half a ton of weight counts for alot, and can be gained in the application of resin, fabrics, provision of balsa wood, aswell as in the selection of the accessories and equipment, simply because their shapes require less glass and resin fibre.
All these well matched factors result in a competitive product. But this has all been made possible through a great deal of investment and careful planning of each model in advance.
Quality is not expensive, as long as technology is on your side, such as know how, imagination, experience and the spirit of innovation.
Editorial from Náutica y Yates M@gazine num. 28