I agree that it is not just in the car industry. You can add electronics and now eve n appliances to that list of produccts that are manufactured that way. At least sort of. You do have to be aware that there are different Asian countries and I don't think they all have that same level of quality engineering. Especially, when it comes to the component level. Some of my largest headaches have come from Asian component suppliers.
It is hard to beat the Japanese system methodology. This philosophy carries over to most items made in Japan not just cars. It allows for some additional tolerance with individual parts as long as the system works.
The assertion about designing for a three year product life is fairly accurate, at least it was for Chrysler while I was there. For starters, the top managers did seem to be accounting types, not engineers. But one indicator oof the problem was the reality that while the managers drove assigned cars so that, at least in theory, they could see any problems, all of those cars were inspected and serviced by mechanics EVERY DAY! The explanation that I got from our department manager was that nobody ever wanted thier part to be noticed as a problem by the upper management. I don't know what would have happened if there had been a problem noticed, but it would probably make somebodies career shorter or less rewarding. Now with that kind of culture and mindset, the policy makers never ever saw any reason to push for any changes.
I agree with you, JimT. It seems that American companies are too often at the mercy of stockholders, causing CEOs to get fired frequently and causing executives to seek short term profits over long-term goals.
Good points, Jeff. I think we're seeing that optimism now in the gasoline market. At-the-pump gas prices have gone up about 20 percent in the last coule months, while the cost of oil is only up about 6 or 7 percent. Right now a barrel of oil is only $103, while gas is pushing $4.00. Two or three months ago, gas was about $2.75 while oil was about $98.
One of the tenets of free market theory is that the freer the market, the more accurate the price. The problem is that free markets aren't controlled by the assumptions made by economists and so greed overpowers the mechanism that is supposed to provide negative feedback required to control prices. Therefore, greed and excessive optimism takes over and prices rise until collapse, which directly refutes free market theory.
Now that is in no way implying that a market must be heavily regulated, only to the point that it provides the required negative feedback to control what Greenspan defined as irrational exuberance. So, we need rational, good sense regulation in every market.
In line with the auto market, regulating that safety and efficiency be design considerations is good. Also, forcing manufacturers to correct design flaws is good too. the problem is doing it correctly to not stifle beneficial innovation.
You couldn't have had a CRX as they were a two person vehicle. I'm sure that engineers can produce a powerplant/vehicle combo that can get far better than what we see now. the problem is the American public. Most people see cheap oil as their birthright and so auto makers are sort of coerced into producing poor mileage vehicles. Sort of because the bigger the vehicle, the greater the profit.
I agree that we have failed policies in regulating the auto and energy industries but disagree with it being called a failure of the "free market". I call it the failed policies of greedy politicians making backroom deals with greedy industrialists with the "regulations" being used to squeeze out inovative competition.
One particularly key statement, as the article concludes, is copied and re-pasted here:
"In contrast, North American companies tend to appease stockholders who want short-term profits -- often at the expense of long-term reliability, he said. As a result, the focus shifts to cost-cutting, instead of to engineering and quality."
This statement applies to a bigger picture than automotive only.It is the absolutely a myopic American view of the dollar. When, oh when, will the American Corporation ever learn TRUE value-? The article speaks for itself. Systems Engineering, for example.
A half century ago, cars were still built by people, not robots. Even on some of the countryís longest assembly lines, human workers installed windows, doors, hoods, engines, windshields, and batteries, with no robotic aid.
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