North Sails
Training Puts Wind in Company’s Sales

“With the stellar training coordination of NVIE, North Sails Minden has reduced waste by nearly eliminating defects which resulted in higher throughput. The lean journey is simple with NVIE by your side.”
– James Hardiman, Operations-Production Manager, North Sails

The Company:

North Sails has become the world leader in sail making. North sails have been on every America’s Cup defender and challenger since 1980 and North is the world’s leader in making sails for one-design and Olympic classes, and also manufactures more cruising sails that any sail maker in the world. North currently has sales, service and manufacturing locations in 29 countries. To meet worldwide demand for high technology sails, North operates 130,000 square foot of manufacturing in two facilities in Minden, Nevada. Here six molds and six gantries are operating around the clock. The Minden operation is the largest production facility in sail making, employing over 125 people.

The Problem:

Due to the economy, North’s sales were down but they still faced a thriving business. Management was looking to improve even more on the high standards of manufacturing response being offered to their clients and desired to increase capacity further while simply relying on their existing space and machinery. The Minden Nevada Operations Manager attended a local public session on Lean manufacturing offered by Nevada Industry Excellence, a NIST MEP affiliate. Knowing this could benefit the company, he reached out to NVIE for training options that would impact and improve productivity, efficiency of process, maintain or increase employment, and improve overall workplace organization, all without having to increase space or add additional equipment.

The Solution:

NVIE local project managers conducted onsite facility assessments, reviewed manufacturing steps and concerns, and worked with North’s Operations Manager, Plant Manager and Human Resources Manager. Together they designed Lean workshops to incorporate North’s existing process and flow and encourage employee participation and idea generation for improvements. They conducted an onsite Lean workshop as an employee introduction and stimulus to lean improvement methodologies, to be followed by a more detailed session with North hosting a week long Lean Leader workshop involving key lead personnel and to delve deeper into more lean concepts and principles. They finished with an onsite workplace Kaizen improvement event and implementation in their production facility involving the manufacturing leads along with production line personnel.

The Results:
  • 25 new jobs
  • $5M increased sales
  • 31% increase in productivity
  • 64 improvements in workplace organization
  • 28% in job order capacity