A Smooth Skate to Faster Hockey Rink Board Manufacturing with S​OLIDWORKS Software.


Sport Systems Unlimited

The Company

Hockey rinks have come a long way since the wood and chicken-wire fence of the early days. As the preferred rink equipment supplier to the National Hockey League (NHL), Sport Systems Unlimited Corp. is leading the effort to produce rink board systems that look better, last longer, and are easier to maintain. One of the fastest-growing companies in Canada, Sport Systems Unlimited manufactures hockey boards that feature mechanically fastened anodized aluminum frames, high-density polyethylene puckboard, tempered safety glass, and stainless steel hardware.

While the aesthetics of the company's board systems have dramatically improved over the years, production processes remained relatively unchanged until management adopted a lean manufacturing philosophy in 2005. Before then, Sport Systems Unlimited used AutoCAD® 2D design tools and manual techniques to manufacture its board systems. The manufacturer's adoption of a lean manufacturing methodology required a move to 3D. "We needed to take advantage of robotic automation to make manufacturing more efficient," explains Chris Henhoeffer, Sport Systems Unlimited's project manager and design coordinator. "Our objective was to automate production so we could shorten cycles, control costs, and increase capacity. Achieving consistent quality and expanding into new markets were also goals of our lean manufacturing approach."

The Challenge 

Make the production of hockey rink board systems more efficient to shorten manufacturing and delivery times, control costs by reducing errors and rework, and support expansion into new markets.

The Solution

Implement SOLIDWORKS 3D design software to drive robotic production of hockey rink board systems.


  • Cut production time by 62 percent
  • Tripled manufacturing throughput
  • Achieved 40 percent share of Canadian market
  • Expanded into new markets

"Switching to SOLIDWORKS software was a critical move in our manufacturing transformation."

Chris Henhoeffer
Project Manager and Design Coordinator