The answer to your quandary has been cited numerous times in previous posts regarding deficient or ineffective designs. It's NOT the engineering in MOST cases, it's the direct result of the "bean counters" who have taken over the reins of governance in many large companies. When science introduces a new product as a raw material into the marketplace, there is a great urge to manufacture an end product using this material. When the product fails because the full extent of the material was not known at the time, then the blame gets pushed onto the engineers' shoulders. WHY did the engineers choose this material? Because the "bean counters" suggested that the product COULD be made "better" and less expensive by its adoption. Too many times products have been shown to be deficient in design because a cast part was replaced by a plastic part, where one would almost conclude that the same mold used to form the cast part was used to form the plastic part. Now, BEFORE someone corrects me, I'm well aware of the fact that metal casting molds are NOT the same as plastic injection molds, so don't bother to criticize that aspect of my comments. My point is that when going from one material to another it is usually NOT a 1:1 relationship in design or dimension.
I have to confess that it makes me a little crazy to hear stories like these. It's almost as if a bit of the collective design consciousness and experience has been erased. Reliable, well-engineered mechanical contrivances have been around for generations. Why not use that as a starting point and go from there?
Have you seen recent advertisements in some of the technical publications (MACHINE DESIGN, etal.) for JOHN DEERE? They're bragging about the fact that they are celebrating 150 years in business AND are actively recruiting additional technical employees to advance their design goals?
Maybe a beefier hydrostatic transmission is near the top of that list, but I doubt it!
Years ago we had an ECONOMY tractor. It was an extremely simple design, borrowing from the automotive world. It was built as a somewhat smaller scale farm tractor w/ 4feet tall rear tractor tires & smaller front tires. Steering was a simple gear box w/ standard linkage to the front wheels. Power was provided by an 11 hp WISCONSIN horizontal engine, coupled to an automotive style manual clutch. The bellhousing was cast iron, supporting a BORG WARNER 3 speed transmission. The enclosed output shaft terminated in a simple enclosed hypoid rear differential. To mow large acreage, an accessory mowing deck w/ 3 belt-connected blades provided at least a 4 feet swath. Power to this deck was achieved through a large V-belt connected to the front PTO pulley on the crankshaft. At the time, it was said that parts of this tractor were taken from FORD Model T or Model A vehicles, but we never affirmed that as being factually accurate. This machine was used for decades WITHOUT a single malfunction EXCEPT replacing the belts for the mower deck & an occasional mower shaft bearing assembly since there was considerable sandy areas being cut. And, an occasional 6-volt battery. In winter, the mower deck was unpinned & the snow plow attached.
I agree with the comments of the other contributers. Buying products made in China and sold here in the US makes it tough to get resolution when you have a problem. But, we know that going in and, thus can protect ourselves by not buying anything that we feel will fail and have to be replaced. I only buy disposable items in WalMart, knowing that there will be no service, warranty or follow-up of any kind (other than returning the product for a refund -and, as we know, "some restrictions may apply").
However, when a person tries to be a responsible consumer and buy "made in the US products", there is still no guarantee of support after the sale. My wife and I moved into a new a home and I was in the market for a lawn tractor. The home is on a 1/2 acre lot and wanted to mow the grass and bag it, so I could compost it and reuse it for future landscaping projects. In the past, I had always purchased Kubota tractors in the past. They were reliable and trouble-free and the dealers provided excellent service and support.
Nonetheless, I visited the John Deere dealer, which was only a mile away, to see what they could offer. I was a bit surprised to learn that the only criteria the salemean used to select the "best" machine for my proposed use was the size of the lot. When I mentioned the fact that the property had a couple of steeply-sloped areas, there was no change in his recommendation. I insisted that he visit my property and see for himself, which he did. He still insisted that the machine originally recommended was the "best" one for my application.
With some trepedation, I purchased the unit. I used it once a week for the spring and summer months, taking it back to the dealer for all scheduled maintenance, and storing it in a garage when not in use. After 3 years, it still looked brand-new.
Imagine my disappointment when the tractor refused to climb the slopes. I returned it to the dealer, who stated that the transmission in the hydrostatic drive system had failed and the repairs would be "something in the neighborhood of $800.00. Naturally, the warranty had expired and the dealer stated that he couldn't offer any assistance other than the repair, and no guarantee how long the repair would last. In his opinion, the machine had been stressed beyond its capacity by my using it to mow the sloping property! I reminded him that he recommended this particular machine, after personally examining my property. He had a severe case of "selective amnesia" regarding that and of all the service checks his "factory-trained" technicians had performed over the years.
After many phone calls and emails, I finally receeived a response from John Deere's corporate QA department, who stated that they rely on the dealers for all after sale issues - in other words : "we don't stand behind the products we manufacture".
So, here I am with a $5,000.00 tractor with a failed drive system, made in the US by American Monkeys and STILL have the same problem I would have had if I bought it in a Wal Mart.
Did I mention that my wife urged me to buy that John Deere because she is a teacher and the colors of the tractor are the same as her school colors?
Good point, Warren. My friend who works for a distributor that buys from China tells me that they have QC at their end - but not everyone does that.
You did touch on a point that drives me crazy - not having any recourse on a product purchased that is defective. I 100% agree that it is so nice to be able to go straight to the manufacturer. However, even here they are avoiding dealing with any problems with those convulated automated telephone response systems. The consumer loses so often that we have become desensitized to it.
I purchased a camcorder from Sony and the casette holder had a design flaw. They would never admit that anyone else ever complained about it (a quick internet search located dozens of complaints) and they found a loop hole in my warranty that excluded them from replacing it. I was very frustrated - ironically, sometimes the inability to contact the manufacturer saves you even more time and heartache as would have happened in this case.
And once in a rare while you have a golden moment with a company that displays integrity and a desire to do things right...and you feel incredibly blessed for something that should be a part of the regular customer service we grew up with. Oh my, I will step off my soap box now...
IF they are building to spec. But they are upside down on the other side of the world and who is to check? We have to make a lot of assumptions when we have lost control of the process. We assume they are using quality people. We assume they are well trained. We assume QA was on the ball. And so we walk into Walmart, buy something Chinese, pay our bill, and go home and use whatever it is.
Who do you call when something isn't right? Walmart? Those guys only ring up the charge for minimum wage. There is no way to check, no one to call, no visits to the factory, nuttin! You pays your money and you takes your chances.
If it were made here, you would have someone to call, some place to complain to, or just get in your car and drive there and pound on the door until someone listened to you. Until the intercontinental freeway (I-666) is built from California to Shanghai, I can't do that. But it would make a heck of a field trip!
Wal-Mart will hold its second Made in the USA Open Call July 7-8, at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. The event will be a repeat effort by the world’s biggest seller of consumer goods to increase the amount of US-made products it sells in Wal-Mart stores, in Sam’s Club members-only wholesale outlets, and on walmart.com.
From design feasibility, to development, to production, having the right information to make good decisions can ultimately keep a product from failing validation. The key is highly focused information that doesn’t come from conventional, statistics-based tests but from accelerated stress testing.
There’s a good chance that a few of the things mentioned here won't fully come to fruition in 2015 but rather much later down the line. However, as Malcolm X once said, "The future belongs to those who prepare for it today."
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