North Sails NEWS
Story Contributors: Diana Sears
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY AT NORTH SAILS
Introducing Diana Sears: Utility Operator & Quality Control
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we introduce Diana Sears, Quality Control Utility Operator who spreads her knowledge of the 3D sail making process across all areas of the manufacturing facility.
What drew Diana Sears to working for North Sails? “Someone told me they were building sails out here. I said, ‘in the middle of the desert?!'” She’s been in Minden for 13 years, and has worked in various departments during her tenure.
Diana’s North Sails career began in Films during the 3DL days. Within a year, she moved over to the gantry team; the group responsible for flying over a sail to ensure it is smooth when draped on the mold. As 3Di came online, Diana shifted her role to work with the pregger, the machine that spreads the thin-ply-filaments needed to make 3Di tapes.
Her in-depth knowledge of the manufacturing process eventually landed her in the Quality Control department, where she is oversees the details of an entire project. Diana’s strength is her experience and versatility. In addition to QC, she is also a senior level Utility, meaning she can provide assistance throughout the entire manufacturing facility.
As a Utility operator, Diana had to adapt to the changes of the sailmaking process. “I have experience in many different areas of the facility, I can be sent anywhere to help out as needed. If someone calls last minute for extra hands, they know I can step in to help get the job done. Mastering the many different manufacturing operations is one thing,” but Diana says the hardest part is our attention to detail.”
Having a complete understanding of the 3Di manufacturing process plays a big role in Diana’s Quality Control responsibilities. As part of the QC team, Diana oversees the details of an entire project, starting with making sure the proper tapes are selected for the designated sail order. “Each configuration of 3Di it’s own recipe. From the beginning, things have to be accurate, and I make sure each detail is correct. For example, the pregger Department weighs every roll of material (tape) to ensure each meets the targets for consistency and accuracy. If weights, that will red flag the roll before we move into the next phase.”
“I feel like we are part of something way bigger than what we have here, and Minden is pretty big.”
Diana also rides the gantry, providing her with a bird’s eye view of the mold. The gantry is used to apply heat to kick start the curing process and once set, Diana has the ability to fly over the mold before the infra-red lamps heat up to ensure the sail is draped smoothly and then again after consolidation to inspect the sail membrane. Diana focuses on the details of each step to assure quality and consistency.
“My job is so different each day because I get to do many things, and that makes it exciting. It’s the best of everything, and I really like that!” Today, she might work with the pregger team for most of the morning, then takes her expertise to 3D in the afternoon.
“Diana is an expert in every 3D department. Pregger, tape heads and molding. She’s the mother of two beautiful daughters, and is an exemplary employee.”
– Per Andersson, 3D General Manager
“I like working in different departments. The constant changing environment keeps it exciting and new. Each day is different than the day before, and it’s fun to be part of every aspect and see the entire process through to the finish line.”
During her time with the Minden team, Diana has twice experienced sailing firsthand. “They took us up to Lake Tahoe to go sailing on a catamaran. Seeing the America’s Cup races in person up in San Francisco was by far the biggest highlight for me.”
“There are many lofts around the world and it’s important to keep in mind how large our company really is. I feel like we are part of something way bigger than what we have here, and Minden is pretty big. This facility and management is very accommodating to employees; that’s just one of the many positives you have working at a place like North Sails.