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Old 26th July 2011, 02:51   #1
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Question Factors Affecting Reliability

There has been umpteen number of discussions about how Japanese are more reliable, and Germans are not.

What are the important factors that affect reliability?


Is the answer soo complicated, and is there some secret which only the Japanese know, and not the Europeans? For example, Merc spends millions of dollars in R&D and still they have a decade of un-reliable, super luxury cars? Whats the point of luxury then? How do the Japanese get it right?. It sounds funny to me.
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Old 26th July 2011, 04:13   #2
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

Reliability, IMO:
Parts operating within their spec limits without breakdown over a significant period of time.

A reliable part is a result of a good design and good manufacturing practices. We know during a manufacturing process, drift can set in if they are not noticed and corrected early on. Drift results in parts specs reaching or overshooting spec limits. Usage of such parts results in poor reliability of the final part. I dont know why current German parts are facing such issues. But one reason could be plant controls in such brands have detoriated over time.

The other aspect : design or overengineering a product. Usage of tools like FMEA or QFD can lead to design of better products. If the questions asked in FMEA of QFD design phase of product is of inferior quality, then the design suffers. For example, if QFD brainstorming is done by a narrow group of experts, it is entirely possible that certain scenario can be missed. Then the design will incorporate inherent flaws.

Last edited by dot : 26th July 2011 at 04:14.
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Old 26th July 2011, 08:01   #3
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

I do not believe that the Germans lack in manufacturing capability vis a vis the Japs. In fact they are the benchmark for manufacturing and engineering capabilities across most industries.

IMHO, the most common point of failure are the electronic systems or sub systems in German cars. This is mainly driven my their propensity to add every gizmo under the sun and addition of complex electronics to control what could be fail safe machines. I only blame the customer for this, they expect the 'gee whiz!' feeling when they go in for German marques. (Oooh! The BMW 7 series doesn't have a back massager and a/c vents to cool my bottom?!, How uninteresting!")

Look at the fate of the DSG gearboxes. Amazing technology. No mechanical problems, but 'mechatronic' caused by a single circuit board.

If you recall older generation German cars were rock solid engineering by comparison. Some lasted decades with basic maintenance which is what won German cars manufacturers their customers' trust and their aspirational value.

Regards,


Regards,
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Old 26th July 2011, 08:39   #4
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

^^ I

Also, 80% of the trouble is the lack of dealer knowledge on troubleshooting as well as rectification.

Germans are better than Japanese when it comes to manufacturing specifications and engineering.

Japanese design an automobile for a life span of 5 years unlike the european counterparts.

This is evident if we test drive an "old" Japanese car and a European car of similar age.
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Old 26th July 2011, 09:59   #5
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

Could this also be due to the higher expectations from the german brands?People pay more money hence expect the car to work fine for ten years?Spares are also very pricy so the general perception on changing some parts could be that there was some serious problem.
Like expecting Tendulkar to hit a ton every single time?
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Old 26th July 2011, 12:49   #6
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

Quote:
Originally Posted by dot View Post
I dont know why current German parts are facing such issues.
Quote:
Originally Posted by R2D2 View Post
IMHO, the most common point of failure are the electronic systems or sub systems in German cars.

Look at the fate of the DSG gearboxes. Amazing technology. No mechanical problems, but 'mechatronic' caused by a single circuit board.
R2D2, How true, and aptly put!.

But then, what has cooling-my-bottom-feature has to do with cars braking down on road. Well, we can afford to have failure with the so called luxuries, but then, imagine a CEO in an S-Class stranded in the middle of no where. It doesn't make sense. And the whole point of cooling-my-bottom-feature is lost.

I agree that Gizmo reliability will take a toll on these german marques, but whats stopping them from building cars that doesnt brake down mid way. DSG is amazing tech, but then, doesnt the company need to test it for a minimum kms, rather than making the customers suffer.
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Old 26th July 2011, 15:20   #7
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

I think a company's willingness/attitide to excel in all dimensions - R&D, investments, manufacturing and production, sales, post sales AND most importantly 'SERVICE' impact the reliability factor of a(ny) product.

I feel like some times cultures of various countries also make an impact.

^I have heard this many times from my friends who bave been to Japan, if you ask a Japanese for directions, (s)he would go out of their way to help you, sometimes even come with you to the place you mentioned to them, that says a alot. Who else does things like that?

Cheers
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Old 26th July 2011, 15:41   #8
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

I feel like some times cultures of various countries also make an impact.


I agree. Also the Japs strictly follow Kaizen and other TQM principles that ensures that they are the best at what they do.

They can be better than the Germans/Europeans too just look at the Motorcycle industry, the Italians are a close second though.
And what about electronics?
Technology is a way of life there just like corruption is here.
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Old 26th July 2011, 15:49   #9
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Red face Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

I feel the factors which affect reliability are:

1) Aim to build vehicles at cheapest cost to cater to the masses in an effort to capture market.
2) No suitable R&D setup
3) Sourcing spares from vendors who are not quality certified.
4) The after sales services provided are not monitored.
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Old 26th July 2011, 16:41   #10
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

Reliability is a more generic term. It has another dimension in it -- DURABILITY. Both are different and must not be confused. Dhanush, what are you referring to?

Spike
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Old 26th July 2011, 16:53   #11
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

I was about to write a very long post, but here's the summary:
  1. Organisation culture:
    1. Reliability usually results from interactions of different engineering teams. The A.S.S. data can never be replaced by simulations of brain storming for example - so if the different departments are not even talking to each other no reliability can ever be achieved no matter how good the budgets are.
    2. the culture of an orgainisation affects all of the other parameters listed below too.
  2. FMEA, Kaizin, TQM ...
    1. By themselves all of them are absolutely useless. HOWEVER they are all useful in getting use cases and failure data in one place and then making it available for future designs.
    2. The Japanese did not become the best quality producers in a day - there was a time when "Made in Japan" was synonymous with cheap and third rate. What they did was to accumulate all the learning and never lose that learning. How can you know whether a new design for engine will be reliable? - the correct answer is that you can't - no amount of testing (1Million miles - anyone?) will tell you how would each of the engines behave when yo are producing a million units a year with each of them being used by a unique individual in a unique terrain. However if the failure of past designs were fully documented - the designers have a chance of having a reliable product.
  3. A culture of long termism rather than a team of stars
    1. all engineering designs follow a similar pattern - concept, design, prototype, testing, refinement, retesting, manufacturing ...
    2. In many, if not most, organisations, by the time the "refinement" step appears, the original design team (consisting of the stars of the company) is already working on the next sexy project. Needless to say, they are not invested in the refinement and debugging, let alone the manufacturing part of it. Reliability suffers as a result
    3. Japanese have had a culture where the same people stick with the same company over lifetimes. And in many Japanese organisations the same design engineers are rotated all the way to manufacturing - there is usually no way to get out.
    4. Toyota tried to do away with this model to some extent (basically Design engineering is a very expensive and ery scarce resource - so any organisation that is trying to grow fast would want to use them for new designs rather than for stabilising production) Results are too well known to reiterate.
This was a very small summary. Beyond this you have several engineering parameters - believe it or not designs that utilise tighter tolerances are actually less reliable in the field. Designs that can work with larger tolerances can work in harsh environments (for obvious reasons) - this is one of the reasons the new germans have had lots of troubles.


Then there is the question of Engineering complexity - more complex systems fail in exponentially more numerous ways - testing becomes more of a checkbox item because really no comprehensive testing is possible after a while.



Quote:
Originally Posted by SPIKE ARRESTOR View Post
Reliability is a more generic term. It has another dimension in it -- DURABILITY. Both are different and must not be confused. Dhanush, what are you referring to?

Spike

This came while I was typing. SPIKE has written like a true engineer

Last edited by vina : 26th July 2011 at 17:00.
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Old 26th July 2011, 16:54   #12
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

Quote:
Originally Posted by SPIKE ARRESTOR View Post
Dhanush, what are you referring to?
Simply put, I want to buy a car, which can serve its purpose without braking down midway, for atleast 2,00,000 kms. Why is it not possible with even the premium German brands?. And almost always possible with Japanese?

What are the Europeans/Germans missing, that even millions of $$$ spent on R&D cant achieve?

Last edited by dhanushs : 26th July 2011 at 16:56.
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Old 26th July 2011, 18:03   #13
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

The Japanese are intricate, so much that it almost gets boring. It has taken them decades to achieve perfection in terms of engineering and it is a great feat. They make it as simple and as straight-forward as possible. The cars that they make reflects their intention.

The Germans, on the other hand, aim to achieve perfection as well, but end up in a bit of a soup. The amount of complicated bits that go into a German car is astounding. And add to that, their impeccable build-quality.

When you incorporate so much of electronic gadgetry in one thing, something might go wrong. In fact, something is bound to go wrong.
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Old 26th July 2011, 19:42   #14
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhanushs View Post
What are the important factors that affect reliability?
Quality of part
Vendor
Quality of assembly
Design

Quote:
Originally Posted by R2D2 View Post
IMHO, the most common point of failure are the electronic systems or sub systems in German cars.
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.

2. There are several other brands - Lexus included - which sell cars with just as many gizmos and maintain reliability. In some years, the Lexus LS flagship ranked as reliable as a Toyota Corolla. Heck, Consumer reports once said that a '97 Lexus is more reliable than a 2007 Mercedes.

Quote:
I only blame the customer for this, they expect the 'gee whiz!' feeling when they go in for German marques.
The 30 - 50 lakh Germans (which form a bulk of the sales, BTW, including worldwide) don't have bum massagers et al. They are yet unreliable.

Further, don't blame the customer. It's the Germans who need to justify their premium positioning. Cars costing half as much as as luxurious, spacious & powerful.

Quote:
If you recall older generation German cars were rock solid engineering by comparison.
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.

Quote:
Japanese design an automobile for a life span of 5 years unlike the european counterparts.
Forget Japanese, even Korean cars these days (i.e. Hyundai) easily have a lifespan that is *atleast* as much as a German. Compare the reliability of an i10 over 10 years with a Polo and you'll know what I'm talking about.
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Old 26th July 2011, 20:07   #15
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Default Re: Factors Affecting Reliability

I think that one of the biggest factors affecting reliability is how the owners uses, treats and maintains his car, in addition to the excellent discussion above.
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