To take the factory tour at Premier Composite Technologies HQ, in Dubai, is to risk sensory overload as the facility buzzes with activity in every corner. PCT is a global supplier of advanced composite components, processing in the region of 1,000 tonnes of composite and 500 tonnes of resin annually. PCT is a key player in architecture, marine, rail, aerospace and renewable energies.
The company employs more than 1,200 people across its seven manufacturing facilities based in Dubai Investments Park, with an air-conditioned production area of 672,000sqft. The company also boasts the Middle East's largest 5-axis CNC milling machine and has produced in excess of 60,000sqm of composite panels in 2013 alone.
The 70-strong marine team consists of design leaders, engineers, project leaders and boatbuilders. Leading today’s tour is Jeremy Williams (design engineer), currently responsible for building boat #1 of the Carkeek 40 mkII and boat #3 of the Carkeek 47 (C47), destined for Japan and the Mediterranean, respectively.
Jeremy is an experienced yacht designer who has been involved in building a range of high performance racing boats from America’s Cuppers to TP52s and, most recently, the PCT-built Carkeek 60 – Ichi Ban. However, Jeremy is in auspicious company as many of his colleagues in the design office share similar backgrounds such as João Pinto Ferreira, (naval engineer/project leader), with experience in marine, automotive, and aerospace projects; Alexandre Mercier (marine engineer and naval architect) from Nantes; Alfonos Alviles Ramos, who has worked on both powercraft and A and C-Class catamarans; and most recently, Laurence Fauchelle, who comes to PCT having worked on both ACC and AC72 design and builds.
This substantial design strength helps PCT to speed along the production process of building performance yachts; enabling the project leaders to obtain up to date drawings and calculations on an ongoing basis without the delays of having to defer to an external design resource.
‘This is the C40 Grand Prix version,’ explains Jeremy, ‘built using infused carbon and epoxy with a foam sandwich construction for hull and deck. We maximise the strength of the boat and minimise the weight wherever possible. Every component is weighed and additional quality control checks include CMM testing and ultrasound inspections throughout the build, to make sure that none of the structures are compromised.’ Although this is the first C40 mkII to be built, enquiries are strong from Europe and Australasia as well as the USA, to the extent that C40 hull #2 is programmed for production immediately after this boat is completed.
Passing further into the cavernous building past two performance cruising yacht projects, we move into the laminating hall where a large team of technicians is preparing architectural structures – one is immediately reminded that despite the scale of the marine projects, this division only accounts for 4% of PCT’s total revenue!
Next up is the C47 Racing mould, a cutting edge inshore/offshore racing yacht with grand prix performance, construction, and technology. ‘We are just starting to laminate the hull and pre-preg components for C47 #3,’ comments Jeremy. ‘This boat takes between 20,000 and 25,000 hours to build, and it has to be finished by the 10 May, so we have a fairly tight schedule.’
For most boatyards a 14-week lead time to build a 47-foot race boat would be impossibly demanding, however, with PCT’s integrated management systems and substantial workforce, shorter lead times are increasingly possible.
‘We use integrated production software and a stringent design approval process, which is controlled centrally for the whole organization’, explains Jeremy. ‘This process, along with regular production planning meetings and the sharing of technology and processes, means that we are able to keep component production and boat construction optimized throughout the build and achieve these impressive build schedules.’
Finally, we arrive in the one design department, where PCT are in the process of building Dragon class yachts, the Farr 280 sportsboat and GC32 catamarans for the Great Cup circuit.
The tour has taken an hour, but it could have easily taken a whole day, had we spent more time in the design office, R&D and CNC milling departments. The lasting impression is of a company in control, with a diverse and capable workforce, that completely understands the composite medium and with capacity to absorb substantial semi-production projects.
‘In the last 12 months the marine division has grown massively,’ says Jeremy. 'And that success is down to PCT’s sheer scale and capacity to do everything in-house... long may that continue!’
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