[oclug] To What Degree, Support?
Francis J. A. Pinteric
linuxdoctor at linuxdoctor.biz
Wed Apr 21 12:28:38 EDT 2004
On Wed, 21 Apr 2004 15:00:42 +0100
Matthew Wilcox <willy at debian.org> wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 21, 2004 at 06:50:48AM -0400, Jon Earle wrote:
> > etc, etc. Factories are trying to cut costs with the hope that not
> > too many items come back as the crap they are. Look how VCRs are
> > made from plastic today, vs metal only 10 yrs ago.
> Cutting costs is obvious -- if you don't, your competitors will, and
> you'll be stuck. But warranty returns are expensive, so having good
> QA is actually a good way to be competitive. I got some internal hp
> newsletter over a year ago which had an article about how a group that
> manufactures printers had "closed the loop" -- analysed all the
> returns from customers, figured out what was going wrong and fixed the
> problems that were causing the majority of returns.
In Europe they have ISO 9000 to help them along with their quality
issues. If a good quality system is in place, you naturally will have
fewer returns which in turn translates into higher profits and greater
Here in North America there is a great reticense to going towards ISO
9000 largely because they see the up front costs in getting up to speed
as not being worth the quality gains. That, of course, is foolishness.
At the same time, we have a relatively compliant consumer class who,
rather than demanding quality, simply accept what's thrown their way. Or
more accurately simply throw away the defective products, buy something
else and bad mouth the manufacturer of the defective device.
A product of our decadent society, I suppose.
I have noticed over the last few years a subtle change in that attitude
however, but it still remains to be seen if that will translate into
real gains at large both in the quality of the product or the quality
of the consumer.
> There's both a straightforward bottom-line return (fewer returns
> drives up profit) and a PR value ("I got a printer and it broke!") to
> doing these kinds of things. Unfortunately, you can't predict in
> advance what's going to fail, so there always will be failures.
Actually you can, in a probabilistic fashion. There is a whole science
to it. That's also where we get MTBF numbers (mean time between
failures). The trick is to utilize the science productively in a
responsive quality control system to force the actual number of failures
down to it's statistical minimum. Without a good quality system in all
stages of product development, manufacture, utlization and maintenance
you are bound to have far more failures and/or returns than the
> And of course, sometimes it's cheaper to not fix some quality problems
> -- it's ok to have a 0.001% return rate, and not worth spending $1
> million to fix it.
Well, that depends if the returns reflects the actual rate of failure.
If customers are simply chucking the defective product and going
elsewhere for their needs, then that 0.001% return rate is very
deceptive. That's why you need a good quality control system in place so
that you'd know exactly what's going on with your product. A good
quality control system tracks what happening to the product even after
it's been purchased.
I'm a big fan of standards and standarization, and I whole heartedly
support the ISO 9000 series of Quality Standards. Most business people
in North America will give you nothing but excuses as to why they aren't
compliant. In Europe, it is practically impossible to do business unless
you are certified ISO 9000 compliant.
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We need a new political party that will represent the interests
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