Biyernes, Abril 13, 2012

Cutting down Quality with Cost by Jolito Ortizo Padilla

In the 1980s most of the companies were desperately trying to cope with yet another recession.It was during those tough times that the term " downsizing" was invented to describe the efforts being taken to improve efficiency and focus on core values. Unfortunately, because managers took the easy way out and simply cut resources and staff levels rather than work to create real effeciency improvements, it wasn't long before the term became discredited.

Instead of building new business through improved value propositions and competitiveness, many organizations simply became less capable and continued in a spiral decline. Major companies in UK like Ferranti and Marconi sacrificed themselves to this flawed strategy and thier long and honorable tradition of excellence in engineering was lost forever.

The term "rightsizing" was invented to desguise the impications of change, backed up wih assurances that the companies were " refocusing" and "reasserting core values". For short whil people were fooled , but it didn't take long to realize that nothing had changed and the end results were exactly the same: people still lost their jobs, companies still failed.

The companies that formed the core of the UK motor industry Austin , Rover, Triumph, and Jaguar, became synonymous with poor quality in the 1970s and the 1989s and this gave European and Japanese engineering companies an entry into our domestic market, which they have continued to extend ever since.

In the next five years, the global automotive industry has been desperate to reduce costs, but instead of improving effeciency and value focus there has been a discernable tendency to reduce product quality. This is not simply a reduction in bodywork metal and the increased use of plastic, as those measure could still return a good quality product overall, it seems the companies have resorted to poor quality build quality and mechanical components that only have a short life. The entire automotive sector seems to be following the example of the failed British motor manufacturing industry of 20 years ago.

Users and maintenance workshops of top brands such as BMW, Toyota and Audi have said that the build quality of new cars is worse that they have ever seen and replacement mechanical items have a significantly shoter lifetime than the originals. Corners have also been cut in overall vehicle design, meaning that gaining access to worn-out parts now involves the disassembly of a greater number of unrelated components increasing the time and cost of routine maintenance.

The word for this trend is "downengineering". It implies not simply reducing the complexity and cost of mechanical components, but completely losing sight of the need to maintain product value. After a disastrous quality failure in early 2010, the chairman of Toyota admitted that his company had "lost its way" from the heyday of automotive excellence, and sadly this failure was soon followed to another problem.

But Toyota was simply the first to get caught out on safety issues, and therefore publicly pilloried:other top marques are heading along the same path, and several other high profile failures followed last year. These quality failures are not just economic catastrophes for manufacturers, they are also causing serious problems for thier customers.Numerous people have found that after trading in their tatty old car for a new vehicle on the scappage scheme, their new vehicles may have attractive-sounding features such as better sound systems with iPod sockets and satnav options, the ownership experience is actually worse than it was previously.

But if the word "downengineering" is used to descibe production cost economies , how long will it be before everybody understands that it really means poor quality? And how long will it be before "rightenginnering" is invented to replace it?

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