Again I woke up before five – damn jet lag. I managed to snooze for another couple hours before getting up. We needed to be out of the hotel and on the bus by eight anyway. This was the day of the factory tour. No photos allowed unfortunately but the Ozone crew were there taking plenty of shots.
The main point of the trip was celebrating 10 years of Ozone Kitesurf and getting a tour of Parapex aka the Ozone Factory. We were lucky to have David, the man who set it all up over to give us a detailed tour of the factory and the processes he implemented which make it all so robust. We are so familiar with some elements of the factory from our day to day work – so it was fascinating to learn about what happens at the other end.
The tour starts with the raw materials. Fabric and lines mostly which arrive at the factory and immediately undergo thorough quality controls. It was interesting to see fabric is not simply spot checked but every single roll is examined under a light and any imperfections marked. This is important as it means the imperfections are seen early and stopped from ever being used on a kite or wing. The bars are also tested under load to find any weaknesses.
The process of putting together a kite is often thought to be relatively simple, but when you see all the steps yourself, the amount of detail and the precision required are really quite impressive. It is easy to see how some brands might struggle with production issues. There is no such thing as kite making machines – it is a very manual process. From cutting to sewing the fabric and splicing lines – it is done by hand.
The Ozone factory is all split up into small teams which operate independently. Each team will have workers, supervisors and quality control inspectors. The entire kite or wing is made by the same team. We were lucky to see the team making my buddy Lance’s custom kites (pictured below).
Every bladder is made on site then left inflated for a while before being fitted into the kite. Every tube kite is inflated and left inflated overnight to make sure it is holding pressure and there are no leaks in the bladders and one pump system. Likewise foil kites and wings are inflated, hung and inspected.
All in all a great day learning more about the factory! Next up a coach ride down to Mui Ne on the coast for some riding! The less said about the coach ride the better. Instead – a team photo!