As reported recently, Honda has announced that 470,000 vehicles are due
to be recalled over the same brake fluid issue which was the main
problem behind the latest Toyota recall. I guess this is bound to happen
when both companies use the same suppliers for components. Fortunately,
it affects far less Honda vehicles than Toyotas. But still, one has to
wonder if in order to be cost-competitive, many suppliers are cutting
back on quality control. I think this is the cause of Boeing's delivery
delays of the new 787 Dreamliner; extensive outsourcing to low bidder
suppliers. What do you think?
This will probably get off topic for this forum real fast. Boeing's
problems aren't low bidder so much as they're just the general
difficulty with having someone else manufacture parts that require a
fair amount of technology to produce and that are pretty large in
size. Not to mention many of those suppliers either didn't know what
they were doing or got in over their heads. Those suppliers, in turn,
oursourced to other suppliers who outsourced to other suppliers...and
you get the picture.
In the area of software, the FAA issued a notice to remind Boeing and
other companies who the applicant is. I'm sure they did this for
other areas as well:
Back to the subject, Toyota's issues come from a series of fairly
aggressive cost reduction campaigns that have been going on since at
least 2000. You run one of those campaigns, have some success, and
figure doing it again will be even better. After 4 or 5 of those
cycles, you get to the point where you're buying sub-standard parts no
matter what you do to try to maintain quality. I hope Honda's issue
is just that they bought what the other guys were building rather than
over-doing the cost reduction stuff themselves.
everyone has always sent stuff out to experts - nobody tries to do
everything. there's no intrinsic difference in that regard between
today and yesterday.
however, the people that set the specs and do the design have to know
enough about what they're doing. and if too much is done out of house,
they're never going to know or have sufficient experience or exposure to
what they're trying to do or what they want the experts to do for them
to either oversee or even just get it right.
in materials, my pet peeve is engineers using over-spec material to fix
a problem that is in fact a design flaw, not a materials issue. they
hardly ever sit down with materials people at the design phase, only
when there's a failure. and then they only want to hear about what
alternative materials they can use and how much more it'll cost, not
what would solve the problem for almost free.
wow, that's strongly worded. i wonder if it can or will help though -
there's a LOT of work needed to get that particular horse back in the
stable and i doubt manufacturers /could/ do so even if they wanted to.
and i doubt that, when the chips are down, that the faa can force them.
you're right that toyota have had several ambitious cost cutting cycles.
but honda are right in there too. i know for sure that they've been
cutting back on the parts they carry for civics, 95 and older, and also
not letting dealers carry what they used to for parts stock - apparently
they've demanded that all but the highest volume stuff be sent back.
that may be just reducing carry costs, but i'm sure the effect of
unavailability and frustration "encouraging" people to stop repairing
older cars and buy new, is not lost on them.
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