Video: Transform your working practices

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Digital technology project Superfast Business Cornwall has been working with a diverse range of ambitious businesses across Cornwall to help them understand adopt and exploit digital technology. One of those businesses is Sail Shape who have transformed their working practices with new state-of-the-art sail design software.

Sail Shape designs and manufactures high quality race sails, cruiser sails, covers, awnings, and rigging. First established in 1983, the company was bought by former employee Alan Harris-Guerrero in 2011, since then the business has gone from strength to strength. With a sales office in Fowey, the company has recently expanded, opening a spacious production loft in Lostwithiel, where most of the seven staff are now based.

Their range includes top-end racing sails which have helped bring yachts to victory in regattas and led to success in Transatlantic races.

The company itself is also on a winning streak, having recently installed state-of-the art sail design software, with grant funding support from Superfast Business Cornwall.

With customers as far afield as Sweden, Italy and Antigua, as well as in the UK, the company is now poised for further growth.

Managing director, Alan Harris-Guerrero, says: “This has been a real game changer for our company. Now that we can design all our sails on a computer and produce a cut file in-house, it enables a real step forward in our productivity. This digital process vastly reduces our labour costs and produces a much better sail shape which we can then copy. It significantly reduces the production time for any sail, so this means we can produce better sails in less time, increasing our profitability.

“Previously, we had to draw on rolls of cloth using pencils and battens or draw around an existing template before sending the cloth to a workshop, as well as deal with all the edges by hand. This was incredibly time consuming, and inevitably prone to human error. It was an old-fashioned way of operating and we were at risk of losing business to competitors who had already put technology at the heart of their operations. Now we can compete much more effectively with larger companies on a level playing field.

“The increase in productivity and profitability has enabled us to recruit one new member of staff so far this year, with further jobs growth likely in the months ahead.”

Mike Robertson of Superfast Business Cornwall says: “It was great to be able to help such a talented and forward-looking company. Sail Shape have already established themselves as a quality supplier, with good customer service and excellent growth potential. They had a clear vision of how they could use this technology to give them a competitive edge in a demanding marketplace.”

Alan continues: “We have a large number of orders on our books at present, including an exciting project making a Superyacht cover for Pendennis Shipyard and diverse orders from around Europe. Business is booming and it is so exciting to know that we can now provide a higher quality service to customers with shorter turnaround times.

“Superfast Business Cornwall has enabled us to take advantage of the latest digital technology to develop the full potential of our business and accelerate growth. Now we really have the wind in our sails.”