|Forum topic by thetinman||posted 03-15-2014 01:26 PM||1496 views||0 times favorited||18 replies|
03-15-2014 01:26 PM
We’ve all bought something during our lives that didn’t work as described. We’ve all returned things and sometimes we accepted a replacement only to find the same issues. The worst case is when you have to assemble a product and then find it has issues. Disassemble, repackage, cart it back to the store and repeat the process. Being an engineer and working closely with manufacturing, here are some tips that I learned to help avoid a lot of frustration.
Manufacturing works in work-orders or batches according to customer orders or simply floor space/machine availability. On Tuesdays we make widgets and on Wednesday we make thing-a-ma-bobs. What this means is that machines are retooled and recalibrated.
Maybe the set-up was not as accurate as the last time.
Tooling wears. Maybe the tooling is right at the edge of its’ life.
Maybe the machine operator set up and did his first run and found the tooling bad but the line supervisor told him to keep running – its’ still OK, he says. Sadly, most manufacturing supervisors are measured on production quotas with no measurement of how many fail end-of-the-line testing, increased rework costs or customer returns.
Maybe the normal, most experienced operator was out sick or on vacation. Only in manufacturing can you take someone off one operation and train him/her for another quickly according to production quota requirements.
The Quality supervisor has to make “business decisions” from time to time when a product is found out of spec. Safety, functionality and appearance are all considered. Unfortunately the shipping schedule is king and “slight” functional defects often are OK’d. Yep they hit the shipping schedule – like a bird hitting the windshield.
Here’s some tips I use to avoid the back and forth that can only yield a feeling that a product, or a brand’s entire line, is all junk.
When you buy something, that is bad (especially high cost) write down the serial number. Return the product to the store and before you accept a replacement check the serial number. Is it close to the same number you are returning? Don’t accept it. It’s likely it came from the same production run and it will be just like the one you returned.
Don’t let the store people tell you they don’t know the serial number. If it’s not clear on the box it is encoded in the bar code. If they won’t tell you, get your money back and go to another store to buy it. Chances are the production runs will be different.
Take the newest one – typically the serial number with the higher number. Possibly there was a design flaw that was fixed or the product improved in some way. Newer is better.
Lastly, look on every box for a manufacturer’s model code. You might know it as a Widget-555. The manufacturer’s code on one box might say Widget-555-D or Widget-555-7. The last dash numbers are design revision/update codes. Take the highest letter or number. The stores want to work on FIFO – first in first out. That clears their shelves of old product. It is not uncommon in the big box stores to see more than one manufacturer’s code for the same product. Don’t let them give you the oldest. You want the latest.
-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain