Having been invited to Palm Equipment’s Bristol factory in 2013 we made our second pilgrimage to a siton kayak manufacturing facility just before Christmas last year. This time it was Perception Kayaks Europe who invited us to check out how their rotomoulded kayaks are put together.
Deepest darkest Sussex
Perception Kayaks Europe (GAYBO Ltd) nestles on the Brightonian fringes of East Sussex. From here an extensive list of high profile boats are designed, made and shipped wide and far – both sit in and sit on top kayaks.
Although manufacturing processes are similar between brands there are subtle nuances which give each company a unique identity and unique selling point.
For instance, the type of plastic used in Perception’s popular sit on range has its own individual fingerprint. Fittings for each of the boats, and the way these are embedded, is also original to the Perception brand.
Wandering around the factory, guided by Perception Kayaks Europe’s marketing manager, Matt Byham, the whole process of producing a range of sitons was discussed – from point of inception, through to design and testing before being given the final green light for the production line.
The whole facility is like a kid’s sweet shop with an array of colourful kayaks of all shapes and sizes standing in racks, ready to be shipped out, while yet more boats churn and whir away on the production line. If only we could have one of each…
10,000 degrees of behemoth
One of the most impressive areas of Perception Kayaks Europe’s set up is the bay that’s home to their largest oven. Looking a little like a London Underground tube carriage, but with added roaring heat, it’s an intimidating beast that rocks back and forth as molten plastic is swished and swirled.
After this phase is complete the oven’s huge jaws open and out comes the hot aluminium casket on articulating arms. If you weren’t aware of what you were looking at it’d be easy to think this mechanical monster was out to get you! From here the boat is left to cool a little before excess plastic is trimmed and outfitting can begin.
There are a couple of smaller ovens on constant rotation – all working 24/7. Surprising to note is that although the manufacturing process is made up of mostly automated machinery there’s still an element of craftsmanship and skill needed. A skilled workforce is still required to turn these water going vehicles into the eye candy we know and love.
Obviously other brands have similar ways of constructing their sit on top products, with unique twists making them individual to the company in question. Tootega, Fatyak, Palm Equipment and Pyranha are the other rotomoulding companies that churn out sitons in the UK.
Here are a few pics giving a flavour of Tootega’s process –
Check out Fatyak’s manufacturing process:
It’ encouraging to see that Blighty still has a thriving industrial sector that services the recreational industry.
You can see the first instalment of how sit on kayaks are made, and our Palm Equipment factory visit write up here www.sitons.com/articles/how-kayaks-are-made-palm-equipment-factory-tour/