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Keithgrif
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Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:09 pm

The cost of quality comes from BAD quality: rejects, returns, reputation, time.

IF you get it right it saves a lot of money and grief. But like my ex-company, quality control and policing was always an afterthought.
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ExGrads pairs, fourth in Europe 2011!!!
Airheads team, 10th in the world 2012
 
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sftonkin
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Tue Feb 10, 2009 12:06 pm

Craig wrote:
No matter where a product is made, it comes down to quality control


Quite so, and the QC on Chinese stuff is approximately what the customer demands. You can have good QC -- for a price. On telescopes, for example, Skywatcher are generally good basic kit, with the occasional lemon sneaking through. Skywatcher Pro (same manufacturer: Synta) are excellent kit, with much better QC and, therefore, considerably more expensive.

Stan Doff wrote:
With the cheaper lenses maybe one in ten were tested and the baseline for performance was lower.


For cheap Chinese optical kit the QC department is the customer: it is cheaper merely to get the retailer to bin and replace returned-as-faulty (say) binoculars than it is to establish and maintain in-house QC. There is also the advantage that many customers for cheap kit will be less competent than even semi-trained QC staff to discern optical (or mechanical) faults, so more stuff "passes". There is also the "yeah, but it's good for the price" excuse for substandard kit.


(Possibly apocryphal) QC story:

When a UK car manufacturer decided to source some components from Japan in the 1970s, part of its standard terms (previously used for UK suppliers) was "no more than 3% out of spec". This particular term obviously got garbled in translation because,when the components arrived, there was a smaller box with a packing note that stated: "We don't understand why you want them, but these, at no charge, are your additional 3% out of spec components."
 
NEX
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Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:41 pm

Zippy8 wrote:


Cheers, always good to put a face to a name :lol:
 
damp_weather
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Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:02 pm

Thank you Sftonkin for neatly summarising something I had experienced but could not think of how to say politely or diplomatically.

I worked for 25 years at a company who at various times had campaigns lasting years strongly emphasising "total" quality in all we did. But somehow we were left with the feeling that it was not the same either as high quality products or as a successful company. Indeed in one round of cutbacks, the local quality managers were the first thing to go, and their roles were not replaced. The quality system remained in place, but there was no-one with time to maintain it.

Different companies are faced with different problems about how to make things better, and often these problems seem to be intractable. In Prism's case it seems to be the shear scale and geography of the operation.

Keithgrif wrote:
The cost of quality comes from BAD quality: rejects, returns, reputation, time.

That is what we were told time and time and time again. - Somehow it now leaves me with a funny feeling rather than a sense of conviction. For example, measured in terms of lack of rejects and returns, lack of bad reputation, (and how do you measure time lost/gained), there was this very successful operation (it even made some money!) that was closed down as it could not find a space within the main organisation, and was not perceived to have a fast enough growing future.


IF you get it right it saves a lot of money and grief. But like my ex-company, quality control and policing was always an afterthought.

For the last two years, our company had a set of values, which were so rigorously enforced that they determined the performance bonus every bit as much as meeting production/sales targets did. But in the end, with the economic downturn, everything was so panicky that I get the feeling even company values got lost in the turmoil.

Question for the day: In hard times, cost savings can take priority over all other considerations. Discuss.
 
anOldMan
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Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:34 pm

At the end of my working career, I was involved in testing (company label – Quality Assurance). When a new product is developed there is a time estimated for development, a time allotted for construction and what is left before the product went to market was for testing. So the chance of a marginally test product going to market was very high. The company I work for is no different that any other manufacturing company out there.

But truthfully, why should they be. Does the public really care about quality or cost. My generation was the first to hear and live with the marketing philosophy of “planned obsolescence”. It got to the point that if a product, say a car, lasted more than 5 years, we started to brag about it.

Today, the cost of bring a product to market is king. “Share holder” profit is the corporate mantra. The customer just lives with what is out there and tries to get the best value(?) for money that he or she can find.

IMO, that is the best we have now!
:-( :( :-(
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damp_weather
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Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:00 pm

anOldMan wrote:
At the end of my working career, I was involved in testing (company label – Quality Assurance). When a new product is developed there is a time estimated for development, a time allotted for construction and what is left before the product went to market was for testing. So the chance of a marginally test product going to market was very high. The company I work for is no different that any other manufacturing company out there.

Hmmm. I can think of other models, where testing takes place in parallel with development. But often your point stands.
But truthfully, why should they be. Does the public really care about quality or cost. My generation was the first to hear and live with the marketing philosophy of “planned obsolescence”. It got to the point that if a product, say a car, lasted more than 5 years, we started to brag about it.

Today, the cost of bring a product to market is king. “Share holder” profit is the corporate mantra. The customer just lives with what is out there and tries to get the best value(?) for money that he or she can find.

I fear that I agree with you.

On the other hand, the Japanese originally lost, and then won the motor cycle market on the quality of their product. (And some race success.) Provocative statement: I think that the same is true of gaining market share with their reliable cars.


Returning to Prism - What could they do to ensure a better quality product?

- Firstly, have kites that people really love to fly. As a paid-up member of the glee club, there is no problem convincing me. But for the rest of you - the only suggestion I would have is to employ some other stunt kite designers that are more appealing to other tastes. - Hmmm. Suggestion costs time and money. :-(

- Improve the system for fixing problems. - Very difficult for Prism as the main factory is in China, and the faults get reported to Seattle. So suppose I were to complain about a faulty spar. The complaint reaches Seattle. - Even if they react immediately, it would take some weeks for the replacement part to get back to me. If there are lots of complaints about this part, then something needs fixing, which involves liaising with the Chinese factory. - This must take some time. Eventually the Chinese factory agrees on a fix, and it gets built into the next batch of that kind of kite. - Turnaround between reporting a systematic fault and getting updated batches of kites into the shops - ??? - I'd guess at the better part of a year.

What they could do, would be to ensure that they had local agents in individual countries, doing essentially some of the part replacement, complaint fielding and fault fixing job that is currently being done just in Seattle. - These people should be enthusiasts (Perhaps they are not even paid to do this.). - We're not trying to compete with the shops, just improve the back-up service. It still doesn't fix the necessarily long turnaround between realising that there is a fault and having upgraded products, but does shorten the distance between company rep and customer. - I can see that this could be seen as a risky strategy, a difference in the way of doing business, but it might work.


IMO Prism seems to be occupying a slot somewhere above the cheap kites that are sold for holidays and usually thrown away soon after, and the expensive kites made by individual makers, with very fast quality improvement cycles (e.g. fault found, fixed on all future kites) and maybe superb next day parts backup if you happen to live in the same country.
Prism and HQ are often a person's first "serious" stunt kite, and Mark Reed recognises that, and is trying to balance selling price and availability against kite quality.

-
Last edited by damp_weather on Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Craig
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Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:10 pm

Er, isn't that what kite shops are for, you buy a E3 something breaks you go back to the kite shop.

I doubt there's anything inherently wrong with any of the Prism products, just the stitching on some of the kites look like it was done by a blind man, not that the kite will fail or anything and you wouldn't even notice from 10 feet, but........................
 
damp_weather
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Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:17 pm

Craig wrote:
Er, isn't that what kite shops are for, you buy a E3 something breaks you go back to the kite shop.

Hi Craig,

If it is a new kite and they have another E3 in, fine. But getting Prism spare parts from a UK supplier is a nightmare. Either make them yourself or order from the States.
I doubt there's anything inherently wrong with any of the Prism products, just the stitching on some of the kites look like it was done by a blind man, not that the kite will fail or anything and you wouldn't even notice from 10 feet, but........................

I couldn't possibly comment. :lol:
 
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Craig
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Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:22 pm

damp_weather wrote:
If it is a new kite and they have another E3 in, fine. But getting Prism spare parts from a UK supplier is a nightmare. Either make them yourself or order from the States.


What spare parts, they use SkyShark spars and Apa fittings, don't they :-k
 
damp_weather
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Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:16 pm

Yes. Skyshark and Apa for the more up-market models. DIY cutting skills etc. required. Most of this forum may be used to that. But many people aren't.
 
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Craig
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Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:42 pm

damp_weather wrote:
Yes. Skyshark and Apa for the more up-market models. DIY cutting skills etc. required. Most of this forum may be used to that. But many people aren't.


I'd reckon you're in a tiny minority, tell you what, you need a rod cutting just tell me the length and I'll do it for you, a quid a cut how's that, cheaper than postage from Seattle :lol:
 
damp_weather
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Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:34 pm

Craig wrote:
damp_weather wrote:
Yes. Skyshark and Apa for the more up-market models. DIY cutting skills etc. required. Most of this forum may be used to that. But many people aren't.


I'd reckon you're in a tiny minority, tell you what, you need a rod cutting just tell me the length and I'll do it for you, a quid a cut how's that, cheaper than postage from Seattle :lol:

OK. Throw in nocks when required and I'll divert any UK business your way.
Especially if you can take care of the stoppers as well? Prism ones are usually heat shrunk and glued on. Not enough room in the leading edge tunnels for C clips. DIY topped and split then superglued end caps usually catch the ends of the tunnels, start peeling off, and are generally not so good. - My current fix is electrician's tape, cut to the right width and wound around to build up to the correct height. (We don't all have a range of heat-shrink tubing and a heat-shrink heater.)

- Somehow I don't think that this is what your average starting out Prism customer wants to do themselves when they break a LLE.


- Seriously, I think that there is a small (tiny?) business opportunity here.
 
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Craig
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Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:17 am

damp_weather wrote:
Especially if you can take care of the stoppers as well? Prism ones are usually heat shrunk and glued on.


That's not even difficult, I can do that for you too :cool:

Or you can buy it yourself in metre long strips from Maplins:

http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=308
 
anOldMan
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Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:04 am

DW, I don't think your going to win but I agree with you.
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Zippy8
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Wed Feb 11, 2009 4:25 pm

damp_weather wrote:
Returning to Prism - What could they do to ensure a better quality product?

As far as I'm concerned they could make the world's finest entry- and mid-level kites, built to impeccable standards with a faultless backup system for when things go wrong, and I still wouldn't be interested. Those aren't my kind of kites. Prism have all but abandoned the upper end market niche, in which they were once pacesetters, and settled for more mass market fare. I didn't. I'm sure we'll hear soon enough just how super-ginchy the E3 is but.... meh =;

I wonder if a good approach might be buying in a contemporary high-end design, Prismifying it and actually using that as a halo product in a way they so obviously didn't with the QPro.

Prism were once genuinely the benchmark for build quality and service. Other people had to respond to their lead or look bad. Do they want that position back or are they happy with their new clientèle's more... restricted... expectations ?

Mike.
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