WaveRunner plant tour offers inside look at production
It’s not uncommon to see smiling faces at any number of locations along the Yamaha WaveRunner personal watercraft assembly line. With WaveRunner sales increasing by nearly 15 percent over the past year, there’s plenty to like about working at Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corp. of America (YMMC), the sprawling 1.3-million square foot home of WaveRunner assembly in Newnan, Georgia.
We took advantage of a coveted invitation to take a behind-the-scenes look at the WaveRunner production cycle, and discovered the manufacturing excellence being performed on the WaveRunner line is truly a sight to behold. With models such as the all-new — and race-dominating — GP1800 still rolling off the production line in January, WaveRunner sales figure to continue to remain impressive as the 2018 boat show season begins.
The list of Yamaha executives from both Yamaha Watercraft and YMMC on hand for an all-inclusive media tour was impressive indeed. No WaveRunner queries went unanswered with product manager Scott Watkins, marketing manager Andrew Cullen and general manager Bryan Seti from Yamaha Watercraft Group all on hand.
From YMMC, Richard Jones, senior division manager of Operations & Engineering; Wes McKay, Manufacturing Engineering division manager; Eric Allen, paint unit manager; Sam Cook, Continuous Improvement Department manager; and Jeremy Maranzano, Manufacturing Engineering Unit manager all provided insight into every last detail of the manufacturing process.
Mike Chrzanowski spent some time with the media group in one of his final roles as executive vice president at YMMC; shortly after our visit, Chrzanowski was named president of the production facility that manufactures all of Yamaha’s full-size ATVs, side-by-sides and golf cars — in addition to WaveRunners — for distribution in the U.S. and worldwide.
The three manufacturing plants on a 280-acre site just east of Interstate 85 southwest of Atlanta are home to over 1,400 employees. An evaluation course and test lake — combined with Yamaha’s sales and marketing facility in nearby Kennesaw, Georgia, for the aforementioned segments — provide the company with a formidable alignment.
Considering the millions of units from the various segments that have been produced at the facility since its 1988 opening, the factory still churns out product that passes inspection at a near-perfect rate.
From fabrication to plastics to the fully robotic paint line to the assembly line operated with staff eager to show their prowess, the tour allowed visitors to see the level of excellence that’s attained on a daily basis. Add the reliable Yamaha Marine engines that are imported from the company’s factory in Japan, and it’s easy to see understand why the employees at YMMC enjoy their jobs.
Quality control mechanisms shown throughout the tour ensure that the WaveRunner assembly process remains superior. Of course, NanoXcel and NanoXcel2 composite material technology that make WaveRunners lightweight yet durable turned heads for all on hand. Yamaha’s partnership with Georgia Tech to develop the hull material has been a tremendous step forward for the company, officials told us.
And with models like the GP1800 continuing to be shipped as the calendar turned to the New Year, there’s reason for Yamaha dealers to believe that the brand’s 2018 model lineup has even further sales potential.