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Old 26th July 2011, 20:17   #16
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

Most of the times it is statistically seen that vendors those who supply parts to the vehile assembly plant are under pressure due to the deadlines imposed on them. The Quality Check becomes poor and the testing time after the part is manufactured happens to be less. Vendors may not be equipped with sophisticated instrumentation or cutting edge technologies during manufacturing process. For example Germans/Japanese use X-Ray or radio waves based technique to find the faults in any machined parts.

Also current competetion between manufacturers to survive in the market with respect to time to market and cost is high enough which leads to quality check issues.

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Old 26th July 2011, 21:21   #17
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Quality of part
Vendor
Quality of assembly
Design



I completely disagree.

1. Among other things, my car (and known weak spots with other Mercs) has suffered failure of dampers, rubber parts, THREE air-con compressors and more. VW's & BMW's are notorious for running through turbos. Humbler 5 lakh rupee hatchbacks have each of these parts, parts that last much longer in cheaper cars. I'd love to know what the quality of these non-electronic parts are, if they can't even last 50,000 kms.

True. Mercedes' reputation sank after Jurgen Schrempp came onboard and incorporated massive cost-cutting exercises. From cars that were built without any compromise, Mercedes went to manufacturing facilities that counted pennies.
You know what GTO, if you as an owner has had these experiences with your car I really wonder what makes people aspire to these brands. Hell, how do these companies actually survive with shabby quality and premium pricing strategies?

Make no mistake I'd love to own a BMW 5 series (or pray really hard for a M3/M5) some day, but your post is worrying. I even considered selling off my Altis and opting for a BMW 320D till good sense prevailed and I said no, not just yet as the car is less than 3 years old (will be 3 in Oct '11). But this car has spoilt me, she runs like a sewing machine year in and year out without a single quality related issue.

I recall reading a post by a S350 owner on TBHP with a bust up front strut that cost him well over a lakh to replace, then comes the notorious DSG from VAG and God knows how many more I don't know.

Obviously owning a German car is scarier than I thought!

Cheers!

Last edited by R2D2 : 26th July 2011 at 21:24.
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Old 26th July 2011, 23:03   #18
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

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I completely disagree.
Hi,
I agree.

In our (I mean globally, not just Indian) worldview, software is supposed to have bugs, and almost by association, electronics is supposed to be unreliable. We (the consumers) are expected to see these failures as 'divine' and accept these. Unfortunately we do. And thus all failures are attributed to these causes. Even if it is not the case.

Let me take this discussion in a slightly different direction. If you are developing a new technology (not minor differences/ evolution of an existing one), in which vehicle would you first try it out?

Could national psyche have some part to play? Think NSU and Mazda.

Regards
Sutripta

PS. Sorry for this (disjointed) stream of consciousness post. Wordsmiths can put in in order, if they want to.
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Old 26th July 2011, 23:43   #19
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

I think the biggest factor that affects reliability is testing.

Design is something every manufacturers do in the best possible way. But it is not possible to simulate it wrt real world.

Now for cars that are not in mass production, (Expensive German cars). Can these manufactures afford crores of $$ for testing? I dont know. All I know is Japanese and Koreans put a huge emphasis on testing. Be it Toyota, Honda, Hyundai or even Nissan.

The next thing is complexity. More the system is complex, less will be the reliability. Typical examples: the DSG gearbox. I am a believer of simple mechanics. I dont trust clumsy electronics. But unfortunately the trends in electronics are proving me wrong. The ECU controlled engines are way more reliable than the problematic carburetors. Reason: simple design.
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Old 27th July 2011, 07:51   #20
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

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Originally Posted by oxyzen View Post
I think the biggest factor that affects reliability is testing.

Design is something every manufacturers do in the best possible way. But it is not possible to simulate it wrt real world.

Now for cars that are not in mass production, (Expensive German cars). Can these manufactures afford crores of $$ for testing? I dont know. All I know is Japanese and Koreans put a huge emphasis on testing. Be it Toyota, Honda, Hyundai or even Nissan.

The next thing is complexity. More the system is complex, less will be the reliability. Typical examples: the DSG gearbox. I am a believer of simple mechanics. I dont trust clumsy electronics. But unfortunately the trends in electronics are proving me wrong. The ECU controlled engines are way more reliable than the problematic carburetors. Reason: simple design.
how do you test whether something would last 10yrs under rough usage, if the thing in question was invented yesterday and you don't have data on the materials used?

Testing makes a huge difference - but not a priori. Testing gives you data that can then be used in future designs.


Design is something most guys say they do in the best possible way, but most don't. The first thing most designers go after are feature requests coming from marketing. The second thing they go after is deadline. Reliability comes as a poor fourth of fifth in most organisations.

Same story holds in procurement too - I can't give trade secret data, but Japanese and Koreans customers ask us about relaibility numbers in the very first marketing meetings, while Europeans and Americans ask it as a "checklist item" after negotiating the price. Chinese ask it only after something fails in their tests (they also are notorious for using substandard parts against supplier guidelines - one of the largest Telecom equipment companies in the world insisted on mass manufacturing their boards with resistors of 5% tolerance with one of my chips when the guidelines clearly said 1% or better - the difference in cost is one tenth of a cent and my chip sells for a couple of dollars - then they didn't tell us for a month that this is what they were doing making the debug impossible - and then we found their "5% tolerance resistors" to exhibit as much as 20% variation)






From my experiences with working in different companies - Japanese are great at not losing the information, I don't know about Koreans first hand, though one Korean mobile phone company (you can guess which) gives worse nightmares to its suppliers than the Japanese do, Europeans are OKish (French better than Germans - this may be big surprise to some Italians just like Indians), while americans are true cowboys - here today gone tomorrow - and keep the least of past info.

Keep in mind that these are gross generalisations - all organisations tend to have their exceptions (in that sense best of american engineers are best of the lot, best of Japanese are barely there, while the Europeans fall in between - best in this case means top 10%)


All of this from my personal experience (and biases) working in R&D in semiconductor industry with Japanese, American and European companies.

Last edited by vina : 27th July 2011 at 07:54.
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Old 27th July 2011, 10:31   #21
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

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Originally Posted by dhanushs View Post
What are the Europeans/Germans missing, that even millions of $$$ spent on R&D can’t achieve?
Thanks Dhanush for starting this thread. Pretty good discussion. And got to see some good definition / interpretation of reliability and durability. And I do agree that testing plays a very important role.

In a recent flight, I watched a video of how a Maserati is manufactured. Watch that and you’ll feel that the car will never have any issues on road. Each and every small imperfections are taken care, and the final product is nothing short of an engineering marvel. But this very same car could be an owner’s nightmare in Mumbai. Reason – failure to adapt.

The key factor IMHO is adaptability. For decades, Japanese cars have been the main mode of private transport in many Asian countries, and the cars they build are equipped to handle the polluted streets of Thailand to the dusty desert roads in the Middle East. Being a mass market player in these countries, they very well know the conditions, and tune the cars to cope with those. A car which can work in Jakarta can work very well in Mumbai without any of reliability/durability issues.

Coming to European manufacturers, the scenario is quite different. Their cars maybe giving trouble-free service for more than 100K miles across Europe, but the very same car gets into trouble after 10K miles in a different geography. Reason – Europe to an extend is a closed community. There is a general assumption that what works for them will work for others as well. And except for China, they are not really a mass market player in any other Asian countries. So unlike the Japanese / Korean counterparts, the chances of getting on-the-job feedback is quite minimum for them. To conclude, their cars with superior engineering will work well in home conditions, but could breakdown really fast in an alien land.
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Old 27th July 2011, 14:19   #22
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

German machinery has always had the benefit/drawback of overengineering.
Its something built into their psyche.
which is reflected brilliantly in their current crop of cars.
Brilliantly engineered, but when they let go, they even more brilliantly empty out your accounts.
I love how mercedes pioneers most features which become the mainstay in cars manufactured worldwide.
but they do such intricate work.
Meanwhile, other manufacturers dumb it down, keep it simple, lower the cost, increase the reliability.

Just a bit of trivia, for perspective:
I dont remember which gun this was for, but in WW2, the same caliber gun (propelled artillery, not pistol), the american equivalent had 9 parts, whereas the german one had 110!!!
same context in cars, more stuff to go wrong.
which is what happened to a lot of their artillery.
or look at the luger.
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Old 27th July 2011, 14:40   #23
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

Vendors.

The part suppliers play a crucial role.

The design maybe very good but if the component suppliers are not making built to last things then the whole thing go for a toss.
And to keep the costs low they use inferior materials.
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Old 27th July 2011, 17:37   #24
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

Quote:
Originally Posted by headers View Post
Japanese design an automobile for a life span of 5 years unlike the european counterparts.
I disagree.

As much as I love European cars, Jap cars are made to last. Ive seen several Toyotas and Hondas that have clocked lakhs of kilometers and still feel fresh after a simple service. On the other hand, something or the other will give way in a European or American car after driving it for a considerable number of miles.

EDIT: Euro cars may have that built-to-last feel, because of their solidity, but it's the Jap cars that will outrun them in the end. Euro cars will require constant care and attention, but a Jap car needs a periodic change of oil and a few running parts at regular intervals, and it will be good to go.

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Old 27th July 2011, 17:45   #25
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

What if someone who comes from a humble back-ground, toiling for years has saved sufficient enough to buy a Mercedes (prosperity for most) and the Car starts to act up soon after.

What if an enthusiast who has a Civic and wishes to cross over to the European sedan concept because of the handling and feel, where does he stand at?

What options do they have? Where does the search for a soulful Car end at?

[I know my this post is not in exact accordance with this thread, but couldn't resist to chip in, kindly excuse :-)]

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Old 27th July 2011, 20:38   #26
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

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Originally Posted by mayankk View Post
Brilliantly engineered, but when they let go, they even more brilliantly empty out your accounts.

Just a bit of trivia, for perspective:
the american equivalent had 9 parts, whereas the german one had 110!!!
same context in cars, more stuff to go wrong.
Which is why whilst working in my engineering field I recommend my team adheres to the "KISS" principle as far as possible. KISS = Keep-It-Simple-Stupid. It may sound silly but you know what? It works!

Cheers!
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Old 22nd September 2011, 23:14   #27
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Default Starting a series of write-ups on factors influencing quality

My posts on Foster's resignation have turned into a deep discussion on quality issues. So I felt it would be better to continue the detailed discussion on Q.C. here.

I am sure that there are a lot of people on the forum with a better understanding of the subject. I am starting this series of write-ups with a view to explaining the intricacies to the average car user. I would be delighted if others add to what I am narrating.

In my opinion there are a few factors that affect quality. These are listed below, though their comparitive importance may vary from case to case :-

1. Historical & Geographical constraints/advantages.
2. Cultural Ethos & Economic development stage.
3. Product design
4. Man
5. Machine
6. Methods
7. Materials

A lot of you have, as comments on my posts, suggested I write a book. Never crossed my mind.! So I have decided to write these articles & put them out in the public domain. Consider it my free book!! Anyway it has been a long time since I have written anything more than a couple of sentences so I will break up the article into posts as long as my one finger typing allows every day. Also as I am not a seasoned writer so I will be basically using a narrative cum anecdotal style.( More information on events & topics I am mentioning are available on the web). Hopefully I shall not ramble away too much or wander off the topic.


HISTORICAL & GEOGRAPHICAL CONSTRAINTS/ADVANTAGES

A community ( as the concept of democratic nation state is pretty recent in history) is shaped by the environment in which it lives. It is sometimes insulated from outside influences. It is sometimes forced to accomodate outside influences just because of its location. Some examples are:-

Japan was living in isolation before Admiral Perry forced them open up in the 1800's. There was a well developed society with institutions suited to their way of life. As it was beyond the scope of the American naval power to occupy the island they only enforced a trade access treaty. There was a
civil war between the Samurai class & those who realised that they had to embrace the outside world. The first instance of a large war using a conscript army was demonstrated here. The Samurai could not stand up to the modern weaponary of the conscripts and were slaughtered. The new ruling class realised how much they had fallen behind in technology and caught up with such a vengance that by 1900 they had one of the largest navies in the world and were able to resoundingly defeat the Imperial Russian Navy (2nd. largest then) in a battle off Japan. By the time WW1 broke out Japan had become a major industrial & military power. Post WW1 its hunger for energy, raw materials & requirement of stratergic depth against Russia led it to start planning for dominating SE Asia,Indo China and mainland China. To support his aim industry was encouraged to develop the necessary technology for naval vessels, air power and armaments. As there was a scarcity of supply the efficiency mind set got built in right from those days.

The mineral rich African peninsula on the other had was discovered by the Europeans. Unfortunately the local tribes were fragmented and were easily swamped. Thus they were reduced to bondage and slavery while the mineral wealth was exploited to the hilt. Today these countries are nominally free but are still manipulated from outside. So the local people have very poor skill sets and economic activity is very basic.

Poland sits between Germany & Russia. As a result it was always caught when either of them attacked the other. Neither power wanted a strong Poland and did everything to undermeine it. So poland has not been able to develop economically to the extent it should have.

Switzerland is surrounded by countries that always were at loggerheads with each other & so it adopted a stance of neutrality. Its mountainous terrain provided a shield against invasion. However the fact that it did not have too many access passes, though helpful in defense, also acted as a
barrier to developing heavy industry. So they specialised in precision engineering - watches, instruments, precision machinery and of course banking. One interesting fact -they developed anti-aircraft guns to defend themselves from air invasion. These guns were soo good that both the axis & allied forces used them during ww2.

The rhine river & its major in Germany is being used to transport goods by barges. This is the main reason for development of the Ruhr as one of the major industrial hubs in germany.

The discovery of oil in the North Sea led to the development of a vibrant shipbuilding industry in Norway & Scotland. similarly the presence on oil in Texas & the Gulf of Mexico has dictated the presence of Oir rig building units & refineries in the southern states.

Sometimes political reasons can dictate the rise of industries. After the fall of the Mughals the Peshwas were one of the few significant threats to the British. So after they defeated the Peshwas the English slowly converted Poona( as Pune was called then), the heartland of the Marathas, into a Cantonment. They also were anticipating that there could be some disruption in their supply lines from England and hence decided to start an ammunition factory in Poona. This laid the foundation for the future. Later on Poona was expanded to an airbase and fall back location from Bombay.
During the early period of the Independance struggle the Raja of Miraj realised that Indian industry had to be developed to counter the British power. So he invited the Kirloskars to start a manufacturing factory and offered them free land & financial aid. This later on became Kirloskarwadi and one of the seeds of industrialisation in western india. In the early 1960s a local politician, Mr. Magar, decided that a planned township needed to be developed and thus Pimpri Chincwad was born. All the major industrial housed were attracted to this development, aided by the fact that there were good colleges and other institutions to supply skilled manpower and a culture of industrial activity around the area.

Sometimes industries develop in certain regions with no apparent advantages. prime examples are the casting industry in Coimbatore , Kolhapur or Rajkot. There is no obvious raw material or logistical advantage. So the only possible reason s the slow accumulation of skilled manpower and knowledge base which is difficult to replicate.

A community's position in the world and its aspirations sometimes leads to developments that may normally have not occured. A prime example of this is the current quest by Iran for Nuclear technology. Historically it has been at loggerheads with the Arabs and has very few natural friends. The realisation that its oil will run out soon has led it to believe that it needs some additional leverage in world affairs. Also the income streams from oil enable it to run its nuclear program's in the face of stiff sanctions.

India has also been a case of technologies & industries developed due to stratergic chioces forced on it.

One case in which I was involved illustrates this clearly. In the early 1980's India had started slowly opening up its economy and tried to mend fences with the USA. However in the late 1980's USA had started warming up to China and decided to hem us down. One of the tools they used was Pakistan. We did have an advantage in nuclear technology but the US started turning a blind eye to China transferring nuclear tech. & parts to pakistan. The US also started supplying the latest weapons to our neighbour. This started altering the conventional superiority we had and we
would have been in a tight spot if a 2 front war was to be waged. Our finances were in bad shape so it dis not make sense to go in for a senseless arms race. The best option was to strengthen our defensive capabilities, 2 key elements of this were Anti Tank Missiles & Stratergic Ballistic Missiles. A lot of key materials for these were not available to us. The US was also putting pressure on the Europeans & the collapsing Soviets to stop supply of materials to us. (Luckily the Russians stood by us thru thick & thin.) So a lot of parties were tasked with developing various products, We were asked to develop the important Fibreglass & Carbonfibre frades for the critical missile parts. During those days I used to joke that if we went to war with USA my factory would be the first to be bombed by the yanks. Once we were successful the French, who had choked off supply for the antitank missiles, came crawling back very humbly. A couple of years down the line Clinton realised that it was smarter to mend fences with us and this resulted in his pathbreaking visit to India. A lot of years down the line we have a very quickly developing aerospace industry which will become a major world player in a few years.
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Old 22nd September 2011, 23:37   #28
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

In a country like ours with infrastructure like ours and traffic like ours and climate like ours; it all boils down to 'fate', if you are 'destined' by divinity to have a nice 'marriage' with your ride no 'God-for-saken' A$$(Auth.Sales. Serv.) can break it. You can split hairs and splice them for all you like but this is what dictates reliability in India. You can drive your Palio and Skoda with a 7 speed DSG without a hitch for the next 20 years, with divine intervention, or you may be stuck with a lemon from Maruti/ Hyundai/ Toyota/Honda without it.

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Old 23rd September 2011, 13:51   #29
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

Quote:
Originally Posted by oxyzen View Post
The next thing is complexity. More the system is complex, less will be the reliability. Typical examples: the DSG gearbox. I am a believer of simple mechanics. I dont trust clumsy electronics. But unfortunately the trends in electronics are proving me wrong. The ECU controlled engines are way more reliable than the problematic carburetors. Reason: simple design.
Simplicity in design is what drives reliability. I have a hydraulic power steering system in my Maruti Esteem and while it is meant to be better for the highway, there is a tendency to lose the power steering belts when hitting speed breakers (in my defense, those were un-marked speed breakers). Electronic power steering systems are unlikely to have the issue.
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Old 23rd September 2011, 17:48   #30
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

Came across this thread today. Here is my take

Reliability means that the machine functions under adverse conditions for the design life time. If a part fails, the machine fails. So the machine must be designed and manufactured to last under normal (and not ideal) conditions. Here are some examples of reliable design.

. If a part has to be reliable, then it must be designed to run even if some components are bit off the specifications. A case to the point - Patek Philippe make one of the most sought after mechanical watches, which are also extremely accurate, but they suffer from extreme shock vulnerability, you bang your hand hard on the table, chances are that the watch will stop. In contrast Rolex designed their watches to run on a lot looser tolerances. Rolex may not match the accuracy of other watches, but man, do they last. Under a lot of adverse conditions the only watch you can trust; except a made to purpose watch; is a Rolex. So having fantastic accuracy and tight tolerances is not the requirement for consumer products. The requirement is to keep running under diverse situations! As pointed out, high tolerance every where is counter productive.

. During the hey days of IBM, their computers were the least advanced of the competition. They were more expensive & slower, still they dominated the market. Why? Because they broke down less. That is like military equipment IBM always derated the parts to 20-40% of their speed, and thus achieved bullet proof "run under any condition/voltage". If you make a state-of-art machine wringing the last ounce of performance to give the consumer "the state of art" (like Germans do), it is bound to fail under non-ideal conditions. What the Japanese have mastered is the art of extracting the maximum service-life from their components and not maximum-performance, hence the reliability on one hand and "boring" cars on the other.

In my opinion German Engineering is much better than the Japanese engineering, but their emphasis on "the state of the art" does not allow their machines much lee way in the non-ideal working environment. That is one of the reasons the consumables are changed at least at half the possible life and their electronics fail, as a single point failure of high tech part can lead to cascading failure at other places.
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