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 > Quality Control in RV Industry?

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JayWalker2009

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Posted: 03/03/12 10:29pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

wny_pat wrote:

Six Sigma/Lean/Total Quality Management?? My gosh, just what ever happened to ISO???


The RV manufacturing industry is a perfect environment for six sigma and lean but I just wonder if they will ever adopt the principles and methodology.

Michael in MN

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Posted: 03/04/12 06:12am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

RSchleder wrote:

As a person that spent 38 years as a Manufacturing and Quality Manager in military industry complex...

...it's the implementation that's complex and takes time , training , and money. Money, that if the quality system is implemented correctly WILL be recovered through less scrap, rework, and warranty costs


But - in the RV industry, both raw material and labor are dirt cheap in comparison. That's going to make it much, much harder to recover the cost of improved QA, isn't it?

I'll bet that the industry that you were in had high margins & was able (or had to) pay engineers & machinists top dollar, and was able to pass that along to the customer. From what I read, some industries have the ability to quote one price at bid time & then years later deliver product for a completely different price and have tax payers pony up for the difference. The RV industry doesn't have those advantages.

The RV raw materials are things like low grade steel, wood, pressboard, chip board, cardboard, luan and sheet aluminum. And to keep things from falling apart, glue, staples & caulk. You can scrap that stuff out all day.

The RV industry also has customers (us) who are largely ignorant about manufacturing and material quality. We - the consumer - have no way of objectively measuring RV product quality and either cannot or do not place a dollar value on quality, hence the RV industry has no incentive to improve quality.

I'm sure that I am an exception to the rule though - I probably paid a 100% premium for my Camplite over the poorest quality trailer with a similar layout and features.

I'm willing to pay that. Most are not.

--Mike


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Cloud Dancer

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Posted: 03/04/12 11:08am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Francesca Knowles wrote:

Cloud Dancer wrote:

Francesca Knowles wrote:

We vote with our wallets.

To accept a low standard, and especially to pay for it, is to endorse it.


This sounds a bit clee-shay, and it gets us nothing.
What I 'endorsed', with my wallet, is not necessarily a low standard, but rather a known standard. There is such a thing as doing the necessary research, and knowingly deciding to compromise in favor of getting a certain 'look', a certain size, a certain chassis, a certain set of features, etc. Whereas, someone else might decide to spend the same amount on something smaller and with less features, but of higher quality. And, this would represent two satisfied customers.
These "quality question" threads are always confusing due to the fact that nobody of authority has published a paper that outlines the different descriptive levels of "quality".
It's almost as if people resent that some of us can not afford a "higher-quality" version of the same RV as what we bought. I don't get it.

I'm not talking about "quality" in the Donald Trump sense...if folks want to pay upcharges for fancier fixtures, more power to them.

But from low-to-high end, there seems to me to be a customer expectation right up front that all RV's will have defects requiring warranty work in the first couple of years.

This not to mention the nearly universal belief that "all RV's leak".
Whence the recommendations of some seasoned RVers that Eternabond be applied to seams as soon as you get a new rig home!
That just strikes me as ludicrous- if it's that simple, why don't manufacturers do it?

Because we don't expect them to, that's why.

And if we don't care, why should they?



OK I'll attempt a break down of "quality".
First, there's 'quality' in design. Not just in first-look appearance of the exterior, but in the design of of chassis, major body components and the method of joining to each other. This is just the beginning, but it should apparent that if these methods of joining are substandare, NO amount of 'quality control' during assembly is going to change the fact that the end user will have purchased a substandarde product.
Of course, the quality of all the construction materials comes into the play, for the above.
Then, we get into the floorplan designs. But I won't, because I really don't believe that's the issue here.
Then, there's the selection of the quality of all the different pieces of equipment that are to be installed. That's one thing. The other part is the quality of the installation itself.
Then, there is the quality of design of the interior components, like walls, doors, cabinets, furniture etc. Also, the quality of the methods of attachment is part of this picture.
There's more, but I just wanted to attempt an explanation of how little the assembly line workers themselves determine the actual quality of the end product. Sure, we all intuitively think of them first, but if top management decides it's "my way or the hiway", there's not much the worker can do about it.
How do you fix this? IMO you can't fix it with your wallet. All you can do is buy or not buy. The thing is, some of us can not afford to buy the RV which has improvements in all the above.
What I did is to buy the one I could afford, and that would give me the best chance of practical satisfaction. Yeah, I've had to fix a few things, mostly due to substandard material and design methods of construction. But, this was the only way I could end up with as much RV as I have, for the price I could afford. I special ordered it in 2003, and I still have it, and we enjoy it every time we use it.
Yes, I knew very well that Country Coach was a better overall quality motorhome, but the one with the features we wanted was twice as much as what we paid for our Newmar. Yes, if I could've paid for it, I would've bought it.
IMO we the buyers are not going to improve the quality of the present RVs. All we can do is buy the quality we can afford, or do without.


Willie & Betty Sue
Miko & Sparky
2003 41 ft Dutch Star Diesel Pusher/Spartan
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tatest

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Posted: 03/05/12 10:18am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

sonicsix wrote:

Profit is job 1 for RV manufacturers, everything else comes after that. For the most part, it looks like quality control is about number 17 on the list of priorities.


Except that managing process quality is one of the most important factors in producing that profit. Most of the manufacturers remaining in business today know that. Quality management is about producing the product at lowest cost.

But if you are talking about product content, choice of materials and construction methods, those also carry a cost, and those choices are made based on what the customers are willing to pay. If they insist on buying at lowest prices, they will get cheap. They can get cheap, and well made for that price point. Improving QC at the manufacturing level will not get the buyer a better constructed RV at the price of a cheap RV. There is a cost for more material content. There is a cost for different construction methods that require more labor, more expensive materials, or greater plant investment.


Tom Test
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5rdriver

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Posted: 03/04/12 05:59pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Simply put, the true definition of "quality" is to meet customer requirements. In the RV industry we, the consumer, decide what meets our requirements based on what type and brand we buy. Building a product with the best materials and manufacturing techniques simply results in a product no one can afford to buy. There are a wide range of RV's out there from the least expensive models to multi million dollar motorhomes. We all just have to pick what is the best value for us (and our pocketbook).


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Francesca Knowles

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Posted: 03/04/12 08:51am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Cloud Dancer wrote:

Francesca Knowles wrote:

We vote with our wallets.

To accept a low standard, and especially to pay for it, is to endorse it.


This sounds a bit clee-shay, and it gets us nothing.
What I 'endorsed', with my wallet, is not necessarily a low standard, but rather a known standard. There is such a thing as doing the necessary research, and knowingly deciding to compromise in favor of getting a certain 'look', a certain size, a certain chassis, a certain set of features, etc. Whereas, someone else might decide to spend the same amount on something smaller and with less features, but of higher quality. And, this would represent two satisfied customers.
These "quality question" threads are always confusing due to the fact that nobody of authority has published a paper that outlines the different descriptive levels of "quality".
It's almost as if people resent that some of us can not afford a "higher-quality" version of the same RV as what we bought. I don't get it.

I'm not talking about "quality" in the Donald Trump sense...if folks want to pay upcharges for fancier fixtures, more power to them.

But from low-to-high end, there seems to me to be a customer expectation right up front that all RV's will have defects requiring warranty work in the first couple of years.

This not to mention the nearly universal belief that "all RV's leak".
Whence the recommendations of some seasoned RVers that Eternabond be applied to seams as soon as you get a new rig home!
That just strikes me as ludicrous- if it's that simple, why don't manufacturers do it?

Because we don't expect them to, that's why.

And if we don't care, why should they?


" Not every mind that wanders is lost. " With apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien

traccan555

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Posted: 03/06/12 10:12pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Oasisbob wrote:

If you read posts here much at all you see a theme of poor quality and lack of integrity by RV industry workers and parts manufacturer's. Thankfully there are rare exceptions. I had a 1958 Oasis camp trailer that was going strong when I sold it six years ago. No water damage. Beautiful interior wood work, curved cabinet wood, scallopped edges. Obvious pride. Where did that go? It's not in my current rig. better hope the Japanese never enter the RV industry. Sad but true.


Like any industry, the goal is to maximize profit. If you can make profit building an RV without detailed, quality woodworking, hiring skilled craftspeople that take time and cost considerable money, you'd probably do it, right? If people buy crap, people will continue to sell it. An older thread on here talked about the junk that Detroit was producing in the 70's and 80's and how the car industry took a hit to the Japanese and Koreans that still hasn't recovered. But the full blame, in my view, shouldn't lie with the auto or RV manufacturer who are simply doing what the free market authorizes them everyday to do: put out the least costly product that gets you the highest return. So what's the solution? There needs to be a referee in the game, and that referee used to be called the gov't (also known as 'the people'). But, turns out that the majority of reps we elect no longer have the ba "bones" to put the necessary regulation on the manufacturer to ensure quality manufacturing. The junk that was produced by GM, Ford and Chrysler for decades sure never impacted the CEO's of those companies! While customers were stuck with lemons, and factory workers lost their jobs by the thousands, the big boys were still lounging by their mansion pools living the high life. And now, if the recent primary debates are any indication, the gov't thinks the solution to our woes is *less* rather than *more* regulation ... guess that old quote about people not remembering history (or at least understanding it) means we really are condemned to repeat it.

mlts22

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Posted: 04/10/12 03:47pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think the lack of QC is due to a number of factors:

1: Multiple hits by a crappy economy. This drove a lot of companies under.

2: RV-ing being not as popular with younger generations.

3: Gas prices causing people to go insane. I scratch my head when someone spends $30,000 to buy a new Prius. First, that 30k can buy a lot of petrol, and second, a Volkswagen TDI model is cheaper and has more fuel economy to boot.

4: Low quality assumptions. People assume now that RVs will leak and that they will be rendered to scrap in five years, no matter how much upkeep they do.

5: People choose price above all, which means that a RV maker that spends for labor costs or better appliances will be run over by those who buy the absolute cheapest they can get away with.

How can this be fixed? My worst fear is that some foreign company comes in and just their name (combined with a snooty advertisement campaign) alone sells RVs, getting people to buy them just because American made products are "uncool".

I'd rather see RV makers add a bit to the price of their rigs and do the job right (Eternabond roof seams from the outset, use Azdel composites, have slides that have not just awnings standard, but the boots/sleeves so water intrusion becomes difficult.) This would give RV companies more sales in the long run because people will be more willing to trade their models to suit changing needs since the resale value would be high.

Another aspect is to start looking at the market for small RVs for the younger crowd -- more "euro" type of trailers which are well-made. Across the pond (in both directions), both the Europeans and Aussies have some very ingenious folding campers that not just have the full amenities that one is used to, but things like maintaining a positive air pressure in the cabin to keep dust out.

RV makers need to start innovating. It can be just relatively small things at first -- the Atwood tankless water heater that fits in a standard 6 gallon space, or having an inverter, solar array, and a beefy battery bank standard to encourage boondocking. Things that will attract people who are interested in going places other than CGs or SPs.

rfinisd

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Posted: 03/05/12 08:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Before anyone starts thinking back to the good old days. RV quality control has been a problem for a long time. My father bought a 1973 5th wheel Pioneer Superliner, which I inherited and have recently restored. Once I stripped the camper down I found out why one of the running lights didn't work, it was becuase it never had the wire run to it, the same for the outside outlet. More than one buttjoint didn't have staples in it. Insulation was missing, etc. This was top of the line for it's day so now you know why there aren't many rv's from the 70's left on the road. I made friends with the local RV parts guy and he has said more than once he would rather have an older one than a new one. After finding all the stuff wrong from the factory on my 73, it scares me to death to think about buying a new one. But considering how crazy I went on rebuilding my 73 it should be on the road for another 38 years.


Richard

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Posted: 04/10/12 02:15pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

i was steered to this thread after posting about my nightmare with my new TT. Very interesting...


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