The pressed on camshaft gear of the SHO Taurus reminds me of a cost savings disaster from GM back in the early 1980's. It seems the GM dscided to pinch pennies by eliminating the oil pan gasket on some engines and substitute silicone sealer in place of the gasket. This didn't work well at all. Tens of thousands of cars were delivered to customers with factory installed oil leaks. GM did save money initially, but soon after this cost cutting measure started it became apparent that this peeny pinching move cost a lot more than it saved in warranty claims, plus some very unhappy customers.
My company has created a "design manual" for the same purpose. The intent is to document good design practices that inexperienced engineers can use as a starting point. It includes a "lessons learned" section detailing the things that you shouldn't do because "we did it once and learned our lesson".
Overall this is a good concept, but the idea that it can replace seasoned engineers and tehcnicians has not proven itself out. It seems every year we pay the price for our lack of experience with product recalls and reworks that we might have avoided with a more experienced (read expensive) workforce. I wonder how that cost balance is working out.
And yet another Ford blunder. lol Reminds me of the plastic support for the arm rest in my 96 Explorer that Ford replaced with a cast aluminum piece and there dismal handling of Jaguar by making the rear ends of them look like the Taurus and using Taurus window regulators of which has problems. And you were charged Jag prices not Taurus price. Don't get me wrong. I like and still have some of there products, but how do no brainers slip by? Too much overhead or is it just pushing the envelope to the land of duh.
This is not the only place Detroit is up to something strange. I was working on a Malibu and the torque spec for the heads was x footpounds plus 30 degrees. Is that a spec? Where do I get a torquewrench that measures in footpounds and degrees?
I am willing to bet the Ford precess went something like this:
I need to 'save' x dollars to get my bonus. If we go to a pressed on gear this will save $2 per car for 100,000 cars and..... I can get the bonus. The gear will only fail some of the time in the warranty period so I can still 'save' money.....
Tying bonuses to 'performance' only makes sense, but there has to be a mechinism in place to ensure that the goals are reasonable (you can't cut 50% without cutting quality somewhere) and that there has to be some system to ensure that the 'savings' don't endup costing the company more next year. Everyone has become too short sighted. Everyone wants savings *now*, regardless of the consequences. I just don't understand.
At our company, we have a "Book of Knowledge". Over the last 20 years, numerous insights on product adjustment and machine and station designs have worked their way into the book. When a new design is brought up, this book is immediately checked for any major issues that were seen with previous similar models. It has helped to avoid a lot of failures over the last few years.
I think a lot of companies can save and therefore make a lot of money by putting together a little book of things we used to do right, but messed up and are going back to do right again. At some point I think someone out there has to see warranty costs and realize that if the company doesn't spend that money, the get to keep it.
Perhaps as the internet becomes more and more of an important way that consumers communicate regarding the quality and reliability of products, companies will begin to realize how much a negative perception about the quality of their product will affect their sales.
I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't data out there already that shows the increasing importance of ingternet perception on sales.
A one piece camshaft with an integral gear would probably cost a LOT more than a two-piece assembly. But a two-piece assembly with a slot and a key would cost pennies more, and would be much more reliable than an interference fit. Which is why they've been making them that way for over a century.
I am sure a one piece camshaft with the gear made integral to the shaft would cost more. But how much more? How much does this cost Ford in terms of Corporate Brand?
This goes back a long way at some companies, engineers design and build great products, but the accounting types demand cheap products. With some products, cheap is okay, but not a car engine that I expect to see run for years and years without issues.
And this is not really something new. How long has this camshaft gear combination been used and in how many different engine designs? Isn't this an obvious design issue. It should get attention even before the products get built or tested. It should be apparent this is a potential problem.
I know the US Air Force has some rules about locating control system hydraulic lines inside the leading edges of wings. Why? Because they know after so many years of flying into birds and hailstorms that the leading edge is subject to damage during flight. And if that damages the control systems then they have a big problem. We lost a B1b bomber once because of a bird strike to the engine cowling which damaged the engine or controls.
Why is there such a dearth of "we used to do that but we learned better so now we don't do that anymore" thinking? Write it down in some rule book that all engine designs should follow these rules and this is why..... Save the company reputation and the consumer some frustration.
Too bad about this critical design change and subsequent flaw. I know many a person who pined for this car and its powerful SHO engine. Little did they know there was trouble lurking behind the scenes.
Fifty-six-year-old Pasquale Russo has been doing metalwork for more than 30 years in a tiny southern Italy village. Many craftsmen like him brought with them fabrication skills when they came from the Old World to America.
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