“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.
Picture your mattress. What do you know about it? What’s inside? What quality of material is it made from? Will it last 10 years or more? Is it built to
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, , improving, refining, then testing again to reach for perfection,” 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 standard
models which may use a smooth barrel. We think it’s harder and more realistic to have something that’s shaped this way and adds an additional 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 use the same testing standards and quality assessment 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, durable edge
support, and assurance of durable quality product overall” 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.
“When testing our comfort layers, we first talk about the impurities. Part of our monthly foam quality assurance testing programme actually involves a
controlled burn test to see if there are any foreign additives in the foam. Historically, some manufacturers were once found to incorporate additives
like chalks or clays to boost the weight of their products (foam is often sold on weight, heavier foam being more expensive), adding weight but also
potentially compromising the foam’s firmness and integrity. Through our testing, we can provide customers the assurance that the foam we use is of
a high quality.
At Sealy, we partner with our suppliers and monitoring foam performance. Sharing this information and conducting parallel testing not only acts as a means
of supporting our suppliers but encourages the development of better quality materials. With our testing and our shared knowledge, you can be confident
you’re getting that high quality material that you’re paying for.
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.