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At Sealy, we start with a single spring
Reimagined, redesigned, refined
And crafted into a sleep system like no other
Alignment that restores your body, night after night
Supported by orthopaedic research
Rigorously tested for 8000 hours
For your perfect eight hours
Every button, every hem, every thread
It’s design that’s verging on obsessive
Tailored by hand, right here in Australia
By a team who knows quality is worth the effort
We believe in comfort that stands the test of time
We believe in support that sets you up for a great day ahead
We believe it’s what’s inside that counts
And that’s what makes your mattress,
Clearly A Sealy.
Let’s take a closer look into what it takes to make a mattress, clearly a Sealy.
Our cast of sleep crafters
When only the best gets past you, it’s no secret you make an epic spring… read more
‘Burning and breaking things’ as a job description? “Yes please,” explains Alyssa… read more
Design improved by utility, beauty for a reason – Britta fashions it all... read more
When your lab is the epicentre of Sealy’s thought leadership, invention is business as usual… read more
Conjurer of the impossible, Morrison reinvented the playbook for what a great spring should be… read more
Ian, Quality Defender
Ian Rochford, General Manager of Components at Sealy Australia, knows a thing or two about what makes a good mattress. And it’s a lot more than meets the eye.
Innovation is at the core, but it’s also the focus on the details, the materials and stringent specs and processes.
From engineering not just the coils, but the machines that make the coils, through to the mindfulness when it comes to material reuse, Ian and Sealy are helping Australia sleep better, one carefully conceived and produced mattress at a time.
Innovation has become something of a catch-phrase for the 21st century – a term thrown around so loosely that it’s almost lost its meaning. But Sealy is keeping it true to its roots. Each part of a Sealy mattress is the result of years of experience of the collective team and a willingness to think outside the square and test the possibilities.
In fact, this innovation runs layers deep, as Ian Rochford, General Manager of Components, attests. And Ian should know – he’s been with the company for over 14 years.
“There’s hundreds of years of experience in this building,” Ian says of his team. “We make product and we innovate, but also, we refurbish our own machinery to be able to create these new lines …We not only engineer the coil, we engineer the machine to make the coil. To do a patented spring that’s invented here and only made here.”
And in case you thought this was a run-of-the-mill process. It’s not.“We have our own formula, our own recipe for the wire. No one else is allowed to have that. It’s our secret herbs and spices.” In fact, Ian and Ty, the factory manager, have travelled to the United States and Mexico to work with the factories there to exchange knowledge and shed some light on Sealy’s Australian processes.
“Since we’re a global company, there’s a lot of knowledge sharing. We can learn from teams around the world and they can learn from us,” he says.
Innovative design, down to its coil
Creating a mattress is not simply a matter of designing a rectangle and stuffing it with comfortable filler. Consider for a moment the coils within your existing mattress – this seemingly small part of the whole of the mattress. Creating these coils at Sealy requires a whole think tank in and of itself.
“We’re internally capable of innovating here in Australia; we’re not reliant on others … These days, they (the research and development team) give us a rough idea of what they want, and we can actually figure out if we can make it. There’s no point having a fancy design if we can’t make it. Then we’ll go back with what we can make. It’s a very collaborative process, it keeps going back and forth,” says Ian.
“Our machines are the only machines that can produce our patented coil design in the world. It’s all done here,” he says.
An important part of this process is testing (and re-testing) to ensure that the accuracy and quality are on par with Sealy’s standards. “We have very strict rules that we work to. We have a system in place to check … We believe that every single person is responsible for quality. Every step of the way that person is responsible for quality,” Ian says.
This attention to detail goes into the whole life-cycle of the components that make up a Sealy mattress. Every part of a Sealy mattress is carefully considered – from inception through to development, the sourcing of materials, creation of components, and right through to the rejected pieces.
“At the fibre plant, we do a lot of recycling: we’ll bring back all the offcuts from all the Sealy plants in Australia and turn that into the pad. So, what used to go to landfill is now coming back through here,” says Ian.
Sealy also use offcuts from the garment industry, though the industry isn’t as thriving as it once was. “We have a guy who used to drive around to all of these little seamstress shops to collect their offcuts. We actually bought the pieces which became the protective layer above the spring. Unfortunately, it’s a shrinking market, which is why we now make our own protective padding in-house,” Ian says.The springs that don’t make the grade are also thoughtfully disposed of – instead of being thrown into the rubbish, destined for landfill, they go into the recycling bin, where they’re sent back to the metal company to be shredded.
“Another part of the components that we look after is the timber,” says Ian. “In the foundations there’s timber, it comes in and goes out, we don’t do any processing. It comes from Maryborough. All Australian timber ... The process of the line has all these cameras watching the product fly along – it picks up the smallest faults and within a flash it will reject it. So we have a tight spec, that’s why only the best gets through.” Ian says.
“Sealy is a company that’s very proud of its product – about where it’s come from, the quality of the build, the technology behind the product. And my job is to uphold that. It’s so easy because it’s either right or it’s wrong. If it’s outside the spec, we don’t let it through. There’s no decision to make,” Ian says.
Alyssa, Fire Starter
“Comfort” and “support” are not just buzzwords at Sealy. They’re non-negotiable characteristics that are the result of 8000 hours of testing.
From ensuring the comfort of each mattress is as high-grade as possible, to testing the sturdiness of the mattress edge, or the durability of the mattress itself, Sealy’s Research and Development team strive for nothing less than perfection.
Alyssa Manalili, Sealy’s Test and Development Engineer, walks us through what it takes to pass Sealy’s stringent standards.
Maintaining the Sealy standard
If it’s a Sealy, you’re getting the benefit of 8000 hours of testing of the mattress you sleep on.
“To know Sealy is to know we’re constantly testing, refining, perfecting, improving, then testing again,” says Alyssa Manalili, Sealy’s Test and Development Engineer.
Alyssa is privy to some interesting tools in her line of work. One of these is the Rollator barrel, which moves back and forth over a mattress to simulate 10 years of natural sleep movement. “The Rollator is a pretty brutal test. It’s got a hexagonal-shaped edge which digs in, as opposed to other models which may use a smooth barrel. We think it’s harder and more realistic to have something that’s shaped this way and induces a bit more of a different kind of fatiguing.
We test it at 100,000 cycles, which simulates a person sleeping for ten years”, Alyssa says.
“We have beds in luxury hotels as well, and we have the same standards that we have for the commercial industry. It doesn’t matter who it’s for or what price point the mattress sells for, all of the tolerances that we have [every pass/fail] is the same,” she says.
Qualitatively, there is the ‘Sit, Feel, Try’ test and at-home testing, which relies on personal feedback and actual use as opposed to ‘all the numbers’. “People sit, lie down, and test their mattresses out to make sure it’s a feel they want,” Alyssa says.
Why testing the final mattress is only the beginning…
“At Sealy, we strive for perfection, and to do that, we have to validate that absolutely everything that makes a mattress – the panel fabrics, the handles, the comfort layers and the springs etc, meets our standards.
Alyssa points out that the testing not only ensures the end-users get the best possible quality mattress, but it helps debunk the myriad of myths that abound in the industry. “There are a lot of promises out there about what beds can do. So if I’m asked to assess claims people make in ads, the first question I try to answer is “is that really true?” And then we re-create or design a test to answer that question. One thing you can take comfort in is that Sealy’s R&D team will not publish anything that is false or misleading. [If it’s from us]… It’s not a gimmick.”
Why “It’s What’s Inside That Counts”
“What we believe with Sealy Posturepedic is that every part of the mattress has its own role – comfort in the foam, support in the springs, and the assurance of a durable edge support,” she says.
Sealy uses the Cornell machine (which simulates a person sitting down) to test the edge support of its mattresses. “Sealy mattresses have a proprietary design feature – our UniCased edge support – that essentially fortifies the edge of the mattress. The whole point of this feature is so that if you are on the edge of your bed, and apply force on it, the UniCased edge support pushes back so that you don’t roll out,” she says.
Alyssa adds, “We do a lot of testing on that. The big thing is to make sure that it’s durable and that it engages. … If you don’t have an edge support, there is a roll-out risk.” And while that may not matter as much if you routinely sleep in the middle of your mattress, it makes a huge difference to edge-of-the-bed sleepers, parents with kids who crawl into bed or new mums who co-sleep with their newborn bubs.
Speaking of features, there can be a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to the comfort layers, which is why the team undergoes such strict testing.
At Sealy, because we perform those tests for suppliers we source, and automatically reject those with additives and perform below our stringent tolerances, you can be confident you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for. We share those results with our suppliers, too, so they can improve their processes – after all, we want everyone to be better.”
In addition to ‘playing with fire’, Alyssa and her team conduct monthly materials tests to ensure that inputs meet Sealy’s specifications. In other words, does the firmness of the foams used maintain a consistent feel? Does their durability meet Sealy’s tolerances? Are the textiles used able to withstand expected stresses during manufacturing and moving?
“At Sealy, there is a real understanding and appreciation for what we do as well as a shared passion for what we do and why we do it,” Alyssa says.
It’s a place that makes you believe in the product: it’s not only the people around you, but the numbers that support it – the testing done on product, on components, on every process that makes a mattress you may not have thought of.
“We may have a consumer that questions us, but here in R&D we’ve done the tests, we’ve seen the numbers, we’ve crunched the results. That makes it impossible to believe anything else.” she says.
Britta, Trend Whisperer
Spend a day at Sealy HQ and be prepared to be surprised. Because even though Sealy’s mattresses are sold nationwide at nearly every major retailer, you don’t get the feeling that the company is in the business of ‘mass production’. Rather, the opposite impression is likely to take hold.
Because at Sealy, attention is paid to the details, luxury is woven into every design choice and each bed is made in Australia, made by hand.
Consider this statistic: Each Sealy bed made will pass through 11 sets of hands, minimum. ‘End to end attention’ is a Sealy hallmark the company prides itself on. Every detail – from design to materials selection to research and development to prototype build to new product launches – are personally managed, influenced, quality checked and processed by the highly trained and precision-skilled hands of Sealy employees.
Locally Hand-Made at Scale
Sealy offers beds that range from entry-level to high-end luxury, and each one is made here in Australia. “We see hand-made in Australia as a badge of honour and we do our best to live up to our goal of making the highest quality Australian-made products at every price range,” says Britta Gehrman, Sealy Australia’s Design Innovation Manager.
“Our materials are very much Australian sourced, Australian designed, Australian hand-sewn, and tailored-for-you by Australian employees. We have a premium
image in the marketplace, underpinned by pure Australian craftsmanship.
With timber sourced from Maryborough in Queensland, 90% of steel gauge wire sourced from Australian suppliers, and fabrics from Victoria, it’s very much a national affair. Even though raw materials are sourced throughout the country, it’s the refinement and manufacturing alchemy that happens at Sealy HQ which turns unassuming timber, steel, wool and other fibres into bedding gold.
As Garry Walshe, a Production Manager at one of Sealy’s manufacturing facilities points out, the details are everything when it comes to Sealy beds. “Our manufacturing plants produce the world’s best quality beds ... We focus on the little particulars customers tend to notice, like labels being stitched on perfectly or what colour threads we use.”
He adds, “consumers may expect that Sealy only uses computers and machines to make your bed. They’d be surprised by how involved and manual our processes really are. There are 11 sets of hands that each bed will go through: quilting, overlocking, spring unit, UniCasing, borders and gussets, build, tape edging, handles, quality, packaging, then dispatch.”
“We pair innovation, hand-made and quality with the desire to want to get beds to consumers the second they order one. Our ability to do what we do combining high-touch with speed is what gives us our competitive advantage.”
“We pair innovation, hand-made and quality with the desire to want to get beds to consumers the second they order one. Our ability to do what we do combining high-touch with speed is what gives us our competitive advantage.”
Design that raises the bar
Sealy’s Design and Innovation Team is well aware how maintaining a competitive advantage makes a difference to consumers: “we know your bed will be a part of your home for the next 8 to 10 years, so we look at the trends and influences that drive interior design now and into the future.
We believe that each time you change the sheets, the beautiful fabric covering the mattress (or ‘tick’, in industry parlance) makes a statement about the quality and care that go into making that mattress.
So we scrutinize every design choice to ensure it will live up to Sealy’s reputation for high quality, modern yet timeless design,” explains Britta.
She continues, “we have had customers contact us to comment on how beautiful their beds are – it makes us incredibly proud to be able to provide a moment of delight in people’s lives.”
Much like retailers offer different fashion or accessory collections, Sealy mattress ranges also reflect an aesthetic that will uniquely represent their market presence. The Sealy team works closely with buying teams to tailor their ranges: each retailer selects their new Sealy ‘Look’ from a range of options, then Sealy crafts the collection including criteria such as design elements, colour, and accessories. This does mean a large number of different fabrics have to be meticulously designed, refined, and then thoroughly tested before being released to market.
This does mean a large number of different fabrics have to be meticulously designed, refined, and then thoroughly tested before being released to market.
Tailoring Design to Suit You
Not every sleeper suits the same bed, and not everybody likes the same aesthetic. With the understanding that a bed is a very personal purchase, Sealy does its utmost to provide a personalised sleeping experience, designed to suit any home and anyone. Every detail is considered, right down to the colour of the stitching colour on the mattress. According to Britta, the base of the bed plays a big part in the scheme now, too.
“We’ve developed a whole suite of colours that you can choose to personalise your base to suit your home … In the fabric swatches we do have some decorator foundation options where people can choose to personalise it for their environment,” she says. But it’s not just about a personalised aesthetic that can stand the test of time, it’s about the physical needs of the consumer. So, in addition to personalising your colour choices, you also choose your level of comfort and support.
Garry Walshe, Production Manager at Sealy Australia, gives us another view of Sealy’s focus on personalisation from the front line. “If you go to a retailer on the weekend and buy a premium Sealy Posturepedic bed, we’ll build it for you. It’s the ultimate in personalisation. You don’t have to guess how long it’s been in a warehouse. Raw material components come in the bedding plant daily. Our foam order comes in at 6 o’clock for that day’s build. But only enough for what we need. We don’t warehouse our components; we don’t warehouse our finished products,” he says.
“So while you may not think of your bed as bespoke to you, that’s what we offer – made for you by us only after you purchase a Sealy bed, hand-made with “end to end attention” right here in Australia.”
Dan, Innovation Guardian
Not all mattresses are the same…it’s a phrase repeated often around Sealy because the truth is, Sealy’s mattresses are different.
They’re unique and in the eyes of the dozens of engineers, quality control supervisors and materials experts – far superior to any other mattress in the market today. Bold claims? Yes – but one Daniel Green, Sealy’s Research and Development Manager feels comfortable making.
That’s because Sealy Posturepedic mattresses are built on a design founded by extensive orthopaedic research, rigorous testing and collective knowledge. And that knowledge base keeps expanding every year. Just ask Dan.
“When Sealy Posturepedic first hit the market, bed frames were like hammocks,” says Dan. “That may have felt good for an hour. But not so for ten years. Sealy’s engineers had worked out that the combination of mattresses and foundations weren’t good at all for sleepers, So they contacted orthopaedic surgeons, collaborated with them on research and together established the best ‘criteria’ for optimal sleep.”
“This was in the 1950’s. Sealy took this ‘orthopaedic’ recommendation and constructed a mattress with an interconnected spring system topped with foam and comfort layers that could support the ideal ‘posture’ a sleeper should be in.
In NATA we Trust
So how can you trust Sealy Posturepedic’s claims? Enter NATA: the National Association of Testing Authorities – an independent, not-for-profit company who is the authority on providing independent assurance of technical competence in laboratories and testing facilities. Labs like Sealy’s must continually prove they meet the latest in quality standards and that every little detail of their testing methods are in line with international standards.
“We’re unashamedly proud that we’re the only accredited mattress test lab in the country because we take R&D so seriously. We test to the highest American
standard, and we share data back and forth with Sealy in the US as part of that,” says Daniel. This sense of rigor hasn’t slowed down since the 1950’s.
If anything, it’s only increased as time goes on.
“Our work is ever-expanding. There’s always some aspect of a mattress that you can re-think, re-tool, re-jig. We may have invented the perfect product...for now. But body types change, sleeping patterns change, the world changes, and so must we. We’re in constant pursuit of the next thing and ensuring we deliver excellence in all of our products” he says.
To that end, R&D also gleans real-world feedback from customers, which lets them know how a bed is performing, and alongside their own research, helps them to predict how a bed will perform in the majority of customer homes in Australia.
“We’ve been correlating our testing with customer care feedback for decades. We’ve got that knowledge. We know that if we test something in the lab, we can use that result to predict pretty accurately what’s going to happen in someone’s home. We still have to test it, because the real world can throw you curve balls you don’t expect, but our testing ahead of time means we’re not going out to market with wildly unpredictable mattresses. “
Leading Medical Breakthroughs
Sealy doesn’t limit consumer research to in-home trials – the company also undertakes medical research and works with doctors to provide specialized clinical solutions for medical patients.
“An element of the work that we do involves pressure management for medical patients (think: pressure sores). We’ve been able to take the knowledge we have and apply it to surgical mattresses. Occasionally we can then work with surgeons to create a mattress that pushes back or cradles a body in a different way to create life-changing outcomes for patients who require difficult, intricate, time-intensive surgeries,” Daniel says.Dan acknowledges that this focus on innovating and moving the goal posts in order to create a better product is a rarity in not just the industry, but in Australian businesses.
Global Thought Leadership, Headquartered in Brisbane
“What we do here is pretty rare. You don’t hear much about Australian consumer goods businesses investing heavily in innovation and research. But we do because we’ve identified that Australian consumers are different and have different needs to global standards that were set years or decades ago in Europe or the U.S.
“We don’t accept one-size-fits-all. That’s why we create optimal bed systems that can cater and respond in the most flexible, and supportive manner to the majority of Australians. We’re tasked with creating the world’s best sleep system, and we’re given the tools, resources and lab to do so. It may seem unexpected that innovation originates from Australia, but for us, it’s business as usual.”
Morrison, Patent Wizard
When Product Innovation Engineer Morrison Just decided to change the basic geometric shape of a coil, he made himself rather unpopular with the local components team.
What resulted however was not only a demonstration in the power of collaboration, but a coup for Sealy Australia – an internationally patented coil that takes the accepted norm of the bedding spring and throws it out the window.
The outcome? A new mattress with better support and responsiveness that assists natural movement without disturbance.
It’s tricky territory when there’s an accepted version of anything that’s effective, that’s done the job for decades and that’s, well, tried and true. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But Morrison, Product Innovation Engineer, along with his Sealy Australia colleagues, has proved that there’s always room for innovation. It may take time, patience and some wrangling, but that’s the price of going beyond where everyone else has gone before.
As Morrison says, “You don’t know how deep the hole needs to be until you have found the treasure. In this case, the hole turned out to be four years deep!”.
The new coil, seen in Sealy’s newly-released Elevate mattress is twice as stable versus its predecessor. Its design is so revolutionary that it actually has an international patent, a nearly impossible feat for something that to the outside observer is just a spiralled piece of steel.
Why Sealy’s patent is truly a big deal
“It’s one thing to get a patent on a combine harvester, a Hills Hoist or a revolutionary vacuum cleaner, if nobody had ever seen anything like it before. A very simple product with fewer parts makes it infinitely harder to apply for a patent and prove that it is unique.
We basically said, ‘nobody has ever bent wire in the way we do.’ All springs have this helical body in it, but no one has ever actually made a spring like this before, ever,” Morrison says.
Broken down, what does this new coil mean for tired Aussies out there?
“Our new spring has better responsiveness: it transitions from softness to support, and reduces mattress motion transfer. To achieve this with a taller spring was a particular challenge … The coil is actually helping with the softness, without compromising the support it gives you. So we’ve made something very strong and robust that can also give you a feeling of softness, like the suspension in a car constantly adapts to absorb the small ripples as well as the big potholes.It’s because a challenge to make one piece of steel does two things that are seemingly opposites of each other: it gives your body at rest the gentleness and softness we all crave, while also giving your skeleton, muscles and tissues the robust support they need to maintain good posture as well,” he says
Raising the bar for the entire category
Well into his 48 months of research and design, Morrison realised that because the triple offset head coil Sealy Posturepedic had pioneered in 1980 was so well entrenched as the industry standard, no one had set out to completely reinvent the bedding spring for several decades. His investigations led him to an interesting discovery: there wasn’t any machine globally that could manufacture his new coil. Not a one.
So not only did Morrison have to refine his coil design but also, he had to re-tool a machine to manufacture it.
Consider the processes that go into making a spring: there are about 25 steps to make one coil. And there are 660 springs in a queen-sized mattress. Oh, and by the way, Sealy’s machines are so fine-tuned that they create 90 coils / minute. You read that right – each spring is manufactured in a mere .6 seconds.
Besides meeting all of these constraints – Morrison would have to account for wire variance (microscopic, yet different thicknesses in between batches of wires), wear and tear on the machines and re-training skilled machinists.“At the onset of this project, the one constraint I kept hearing from manufacturing was – don’t change the head shape of the coil. This was at odds with a perfectly vertically-aligned central axis. To do that meant that the tied and true end profile of the coil needed to change. It was a conundrum I decided to push through,” Morrison says.
From computer design to manufacturing reality So in addition to creating CAD models of the new springs, Morrison had to computer-model out the new tools to form the spring, and then had to ask the manufacturing team to see if they could build new tools and a series of prototypes for testing on top of their existing workloads.
What’s unique about Sealy Australia is that the company has its own tool makers and machine-building teams on-site. “The components team was extremely gracious and keen to tackle this challenge. They built new tools, completely reconfiguring a machine we took off-line.
Within a few months, we made our first batch of coils with the new head design. We had the concept design for the coil in CAD, and it had tested well on-screen in computer simulations.
We hammered the first coils into shape and said we think we’re onto a good design, then we had to redesign the tooling for the machine to interconnect the springs together into one unit so that we could test its performance both in the real world and in our testing lab,” he says.
It’s a classic domino-effect: change one small thing, and every add-on process needs to be tweaked to accommodate that original change. Luckily, Morrison wasn’t about to quit: “We knew it was worth seeing this right through to production even if it meant weathering some storms along the way,” he says.
And to Sealy Australia’s credit, management gives its engineers the leeway – not to mention time and resources – to explore these projects and see them through to finish. Because at the end of the day, it’s not just a matter of “bending wire”, it’s making something that works – and not just works, but works better than anything that’s come before it.
It’s cross-functional and intra-departmental teams rolling up their sleeves, working together to create a mattress that works and responds as a holistic system.
“If you toss and turn, this mattress responds immediately, which a lot of dead memory foam doesn’t and can’t do. When you roll, the springs you’re departing from are lifting you instantly and helping you to roll. You’re using less energy to change positions, which means you wake less to change positions,” says Morrison. The net result? You wake up with more energy in the morning because you expended less throughout the night.
Leaving our mark on history According to Morrison, there have been many stages of coil development over the last century, with each stage refining the last one while leaving something behind.
Steve, Handcrafting Hero
Sealy’s commitment to giving consumers superior sleep permeates everything they do.
From best-in-class new product design to world-class manufacturing rigor, with over 50 years of experience, every staff member is dedicated to creating the best sleeping experience for every Australian, casting a keen eye over what makes the grade – and what doesn’t.At Sealy, your mattress is more than the place you wind up on at the end of the day. “We look at it as the most important piece of furniture in your home. It’s where you sleep, where you dream, where your kids crawl into in the middle of the night or the crack of dawn. It’s your haven, it’s your home. And if it’s not built for you, built to last, you’re going to notice it,” says Michael Robinson, National Training Manager.
Michael adds, “We recognize how central your bed is to your happiness, your health and your energy levels, so we craft each and every bed range to outshine every competitor against three criteria: Support, Comfort and Durability.”
Adds Steve Dengate, Factory Manager at Sealy Australia: “our job is to build the best bed. We’ve always got the mentality of – what would you sell to your family? Would I sell that [specification] to my dearest friend or family member? Some beds get rejected simply because they don’t meet our criteria. At the end of the day, we’ll only make what we’re proud to put out into the market.”
“When Sealy wants to launch a new bed range, or updates an existing collection of beds, the starting point is always asking the questions, ‘Will customers love it? Will they love it 10 years from now? Will they love it so much, they’ll tell their friends about it and buy another Sealy from us again?’
Our NPD team – which includes employees from R&D, design, manufacturing, customer care, marketing, engineering and sales meet as one to assess customer feedback, materials improvement, emerging design trends around the world, product testing results and internal innovations to conceive of new prototypes,” says Michael Robinson.
“Because we have craftsmen who’ve been with us over 40 years as well as highly-talented engineers we’ve pulled from other industries, we have intelligent and rapid-pace discussions about what will work, what’s worked versus what’s not worked in the past and if our new ideas can be built in practice.
Add to that that we have end-to-end build and test facilities all in one place, which means springs, engineers, and craftsmen can go off and build mattress prototypes later that day if need be. That’s the pace and high standard to which we work,” explains Daniel Green, Research and Development Manager for Sealy of Australia.
Building to Last … Every Step Along the Way “Something customers may not be aware of is how high we set our pass/ fail rates.
Truthfully, we probably set it higher than we commercially should because we want to avoid ‘accepted failures’. We’re very demanding of ourselves,” explains Steve Dengate. Steve, who oversees every build in one of Sealy’s manufacturing facilities elaborates, “we apply those standards to every bed that we make every day. Beds that come back don’t pass the test for the next range. They don’t make the system. They’re out. They’re cut like a football team …
We know the standards and configurations of beds that don’t work and we don’t bring them back no matter what. Beautiful fabrics don’t pass if they don’t pass the test. We’re in charge of making sure that people have a great experience with the brand …
We want to be the best brand for the next generation and the next and so on. We want to have a Sealy in every home in Australia … We can’t do that if we make beds that don’t last,” he says.
It’s up to the production team helmed by Garry Walshe to construct the bed you’re sleeping on. Garry, who’s been with Sealy for 18 years, understands each nuance of the production process. “Raw materials including ticking, foams, fibres, spring units, timber foundations – everything is put together by hand. We personally inspect all layers before they reach the assembly side of our factory.”
That fabric on the top? It’s not only had labels hand-sewn onto the border or gussets attached, it’s also been inspected by a supervisor before being passed over to assembly. If the rare loose thread appears, Sealy empowers employees to correct any pattern mistake on-the-spot. This means Sealy’s front-of-line employees prioritize product quality over production speed (even if they are pretty speedy).
Once each mattress layer has passed its own inspection and has been bundled together, it’s up to Garry’s build teams to align them, layer them with springs into the mattress fabric and sew the edges (a technique called hand taping), making sure the borders are nice and tight for longevity. Every little detail is manually put together on unique rotating build tables. Handles are applied, labels are double-checked for positioning and overall aesthetics are given a once-over.
“When you think of hand-sewn, you may not picture a guy deftly tape-edging together damask and nylon edging, but that’s what we have. There’s so much skill, time and effort required – which we love celebrating – we just wish more customers could see what we do. It’s a massive effort to do just-in-time all the time, but it’s an investment we think is well worth it.”“Sew, quilt, matt, base, dispatch truck…we pair innovation, hand-made and quality with the desire to want to get beds to consumers the second they order one. Our ability to do what we do with agility and speed is what makes working here so great for us.”
“At a time when Australian manufacturing is declining in sectors, the secret to our success is our ability to retain outstanding employees who do their jobs so well. As a consequence, we build better stuff every year, ship better beds out on time, every time. That focus has helped us survive. Not just survive, thrive.” says Steve Dengate, Factory Manager of Bedding at Sealy Australia.
“We can make hundreds of beds per day in each of our facilities…and our teams will not leave until every bed gets made to perfection.” Says Steve: “our goal at Sealy has always been to make the world’s best bed. That’s the mission we wake up to every day.”
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