Vernon Morning Star

Harbercraft hones production edge

Mike Clements (from left), Brian Penner and Geoff Collins of Westwinn Group, builders of Harbercraft aluminum boats, show off the precise cutting capabilities of their newly unveiled MultiCam CNC router cutting system Thursday afternoon at the Vernon plant. - Graeme Corbett/Morning Star
Mike Clements (from left), Brian Penner and Geoff Collins of Westwinn Group, builders of Harbercraft aluminum boats, show off the precise cutting capabilities of their newly unveiled MultiCam CNC router cutting system Thursday afternoon at the Vernon plant.
— image credit: Graeme Corbett/Morning Star

WestWinn Group has added a sharp new tool to its arsenal as it aims to further solidify its status as an elite sportfishing boat builder in North America.

The Vernon-based manufacturer, builders of Harbercraft and Kingfisher all-welded aluminum boats, unveiled its new MultiCam CNC router cutting system Thursday afternoon at its Centre of Excellence production facility on the north end of Swan Lake.

“This new cutting system supports our growth strategy of creating the leading all-welded brand in North America, right here in Vernon,” said Byron Bolton, WestWinn CEO.

The MultiCam unit is used for cutting full aluminum sheets for the building process. It is faster, more accurate, offers greater versatility and creates less waste than the manufacturer’s previous cutter. It also incorporates a suction system to hold the aluminum sheets in place, meaning workers no longer have the hassle of clamping materials in place.

Given the ultra-competitive nature of the boat building industry, Brian Penner, WestWinn’s product development leader, says it is essential to stay abreast of the latest innovation, and to continually invest in new technology. Installation of the new MultiCam began in November.

“We’ve been waiting a long time, so it’s pretty exciting to get this machine operating,” said Penner. “It improves cut quality and versatility. We can add holes and slots that will ease the assembly process.

“It will improve what we’ve already got, but it will also give us the opportunity to do new things because of the increased cut quality and cleaner edges.

“Better, faster, more precise. As the guys take the parts to build the boat, this will give you very precise edges, and the closer the fitting parts, the better the weld.”

Mike Clements, WestWinn’s production manager, says CNC router cutting system technology has been around for more than a decade, but only in more recent years has it become more prevalent in the boat manufacturing industry. He adds the company’s growth is now at a stage where it makes sense to use it.

“We’ve been looking at this technology for quite some time,” said Clements. “It’s a large investment to bring a machine like this into the plant. You have to be able to keep it busy and get the benefits out of it.

“It’s a very demanding market out there today...and we need this piece of equipment to make that high-quality product.”

WestWinn Group employs around 65 workers at its 53,000 square foot Vernon plant, which was built in 2009. They currently produce more than 40 niche-specific boat models for the North American sportfishing market, including lake, river and ocean vessels.

 

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