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Old 09-15-2005, 04:04 AM   #1
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Has anyone ever met another Alpine owner who felt that WRV had any form of quality control whatsoever?
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Old 09-15-2005, 04:04 AM   #2
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Has anyone ever met another Alpine owner who felt that WRV had any form of quality control whatsoever?
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Old 09-15-2005, 10:54 AM   #3
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I believe that the primary form of quality control is in design, and there they do a good job. Most design elements are thought through quite well. A few design glitches go off-the-charts silly (e.g. '04 HDTV cabling that wouldn't support HDTV, '06 HiFi cooling fans that drown out soft music). Certainly the vast majority of the design elements are good to excellent.

Why that ethic isn't extended to execution, i.e. manufacturing, is a mystery. That's where money <span class="ev_code_RED">pours</span> down the drain.
E.g. slide-out cutouts are hand cut, so a slip can ruin the coach-side frame around the slide (i.e. ruin the wall); seems like a simple jig or cutting fence would assure straight cuts & save a lotta hand labor for patching the slips.
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Old 09-16-2005, 04:06 AM   #4
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Hi Mike,

Thanks for your reply. It is good to hear something positive. My question was really meant to relate to the simple quality control procedure of inspecting the coach after production. DVD players that didn't even have a wire connecting them to the TV! It is obvious that the system was not even checked. Power cable reel that was not wired. (When I tried the switch the cable didn't work, why didn't someone else also check things out?)

I don't plan on a long list but suffice to say that we have had over 100 seperate items wrong with our coach upon delivery. We have full timed for the last two years in our Alpine and we sing the same cool-aid song "it sure dirves great" as everyone else.

We have been in this lifestyle for over 25 years and have had everything from a tent to a Prevost and the fact is they are all the same. The thing that the RV industry hangs their hat on is that they are all the same. You can't take your business elsewhere because the next manufacturer is as unconcerned with quality control as the next.

Why is the consistent attitude with us (me included) consumers is shrug and accept this level of disregard for customers who are spending a great deal of money on their product?

Perhaps we should all start to write to the RVIA but that is like writing to your senator who is sleeping in the same bed with the them financially.

Oh well, I think all of our pleas are falling on deaf ears.

Thanks again for your response.

Jim
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Old 09-16-2005, 10:28 AM   #5
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One of the fundamental troubles w/RV purchasing IMO is the RV dealer process. The dealer orders & receives some # of units from the mfgr, shines them up & starts selling. In order to fill the order, the mfgr builds & ships out the units, w/nobody in a position to care a great deal about overall inspection. When the dealer is the customer (dealers only care the unit will shine up & sell), the customer doesn't care (if a future owner is ticked off @ assembly troubles, its no big deal to the dealer cuz they already cashed the check). So if the mfgr won't install affirmative inspection techniques @ each station on the assembly line, the only inspector that will check out all systems is the future owner.

Doing a factory pickup solves that problem to a useful degree. The factory has to plug in the coach, detail it out, get the fridge cold & icemaker operating..., so they have to hit the cord reel switch, fill the water tank, run the water pump, fix any leaks, check tank levels, run the gen... This step interjects the inspection team & process that should be incorporated into assembly. It basically makes the future owner the mfgr's direct customer. And then you follow up the factory detailing, looking over your new toy. I would never buy another coach any other way.

Some manufacturer will eventually break ranks & start selling direct to customers. This has happened in the yacht industry. A couple of mfgr's sell direct only, and will either ship to your location, or will let you pick up the boat @ their facility. Mediterranean is one brand that has been a smashing success at this. This cuts out the middle man, so there is dough in the kitty to cover dealing w/tire-kickers. It also makes the customer the customer, rather than the middle man being the customer, so QC efforts go immediately where the rubber meets the road. IMO, WRV is the ideal candidate to go to this new-to-the-MH-industry business model. Alpine has the onwer caché and low mintage to pull it off, given a proper marketing plan.
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Old 09-19-2005, 02:49 PM   #6
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I have to throw my 2 cents worth in here as an Aerospace Quality professional.

It appears to me that the industry is missing a lot in regard to customer satisfaction as well as reduced costs both during the build process and during the warranty period. Sure, the engineering has to be good, but it also needs to be produceable and inspectable. With the addition of a quality engineering function, both of those areas could be checked in the design phase.

During the build phase, we have long since found that quality cannot be inspected into the product, there is not enough budget even in my business to ensure that it is. Rather, the build needs to be managed by controlled processes that can be tracked via meaningfull metrics. The processes must be proofed during their initial roll out as well.

The final product will exude quality if a comprehensive quality program is followed from the design phase thru the build phase including monitoring of suppliers. The end item test phase prior to shipment/delivery, should find very few issues/problems.

To those that say this is too expensive, just look at the cost to fix all of the items under the warranty period. Also, the build efficiency will improve. I have yet to see any RV manufacturer that has a true quality system in place. Too bad, they could increase their profits as well as their market share.
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Old 09-19-2005, 04:14 PM   #7
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Can't disagree. Tho I haven't found much that isn't produceable & inspectable.
The more I get acquainted w/the nitty gritty of our new coach, the more I repsect the design side (like use of welding cable for battery wiring; ain't cheap but it's what I'd use if price was no object).
Yet, some of the snafu's given a pass in manufacturing are positively dopey. It shows that, at least at times, nobody that cares is looking.
One problem WRV may not be able to solve w/its low numbers on the Alpine line, is monitoring of suppliers of small, but vital components. Unless you push thru a large number of a supplier's device's, babysitting vendor quality isn't cost effective.

E.g. bench testing the battery charging solenoids B4 install, or even sample testing, won't identify the units that work OK out of the box but go bad in service. However, once you know they fail if installed studs-down, you could start installing them studs-up . If I wasn't replacing that gizmo myself, it'd cost WRV a nice labor charge, not to mention the 2 hour round trip & $50 in diesel for the "<span class="ev_code_RED">happy</span>" customer.
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Old 09-19-2005, 05:06 PM   #8
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Dagnabit! I hate crow. The feathers get stuck in my teeth.

Just got home & checked- solenoid was installed studs-up as recommended. My bad; apologies to manufacturing.
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Old 09-19-2005, 06:11 PM   #9
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The question I would like to have answered is why not utilize ISO 9000 standards in building the coach and also requiring same of suppliers wherever possible/practical. I'm only aware of Vansco as a ISO 9000 supplier on the WRV vendor list. Although I would expect Cummins & Toyo/Goodyear to be ISO 9000 compliant. The Cole Hersee solenoid for instance is rated for a max of 65 Amp @ 12V. This device has copper contacts. If the contacts start pitting because of excessive current during making, breaking or constant operation then I would expect WRV to supply a solenoid designed to handle the max circuit amps. If circuit amperage is within the 65A rating and solenoid is failing then need to look at a device with silver plated and/or bifurcated contacts. I doubt that Cole Hersee is a ISO 9000 supplier.
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Old 09-19-2005, 06:50 PM   #10
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My $0.02. Someone must have done a dollar/cost analysis and determined that it is cheaper to pay for after-delivery repairs than to check the stuff and fix it before it comes off the line. The owner of WRV is not a fool. One word from him and things would change. They have been this way for a long time for a reason.

I think we all did a lot of research before selecting Alpine, even after reading of the problems. I am not happy about the number of problems, but I would have been REALLY unhappy if it had been a Prevost.
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Old 09-20-2005, 08:31 AM   #11
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It is interesting that WRV, among others, does not utilize an ISO 9001-2000 based quality system. This in and of itself, will not ensure good quality. But, it goes a long way if the senior management is committed to quality. I have audited several ISO registered suppliers that have significant quality problems. All of them have "bought" registration without management committement.

WRV seems interested in improving quality and the resultant cost savings associated with it. With the proper implementation of value stream mapping techniques, quality could improve as well as productivity. Small suppliers can be monitored based on delivery, cost performance, and failure rates. It can be interesting sometimes when a failure rate trend is noticed. In some cases, the suppliers component is not the issue, rather it is the design, packaging, storage etc. that can contribute to the higher than desired failure rate.

The Alpine is a well designed coach, I think we all agree on that. However, when there is little process control, the best design does not get implemented as the designer anticipated. Having spoken with senior WRV management, I am certain that they are looking for ways to improve the build quality and I hope that they succeed.
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Old 09-21-2005, 04:43 AM   #12
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I think Jim & Mikki have the right idea. The majority of these QC problems are generally not huge. My wife and I have owned 4 boats and this is our 4th motor home. No other unit we owned started with these kinds of problems. I must admit that when we picked up our coach from the dealer it was a hot and rainy day, we arrived at 11:00AM and left at 5:00PM for no apparent reason so neither of our moods was very good. In addition we were much less critical looking at the coach than we should have been. No lunch, great headache, etc. Once we got home and settled we looked around and the lack of QC jumped right out at us. The water filter was in the kitchen drrawer. The fit on wood moldings on the floor was atrocious. The metal molding around the steps would have put a 5" slice in your foot and it goes on and on. And this coach had been through the factory and a dealer. I know some things are more serious but as Jim and Mikki point out how about trying the electronics. An hour with two knowledgable people going over this coach after completion would be worth its weight in gold to the end user. It's those little stupid things that are just that. Stupid and should never happen.
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Old 09-22-2005, 09:06 AM   #13
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I was at the Ft Worth RV Show last weekend and met the Obanions who own Motor Home Specialist in Alvarado, TX. They have handled the Alpine Coach line since Vogt RV dropped them a couple of years ago. I asked Sharon about the quality control problems customers have been experienceing at the factory in Yakima.

The first thing she said was that there were problems a few year ago,but they are perfect now.

The second thing she said was that if they don't come to their dealership in perfect condition, they will fix the problems when they do a PDI.

The third thing she said was that they hired the Southwest Regional Sales Manager away from WRV so he is on staff to fix any problems as they come in from Yakima.

The fourth thing she said was they just recently had on come in that was so bad that they turned around and sent it back to the factory.

And finally, she said that when you come into their repair shop to have your problems fixed, they have a complete camping facility for 10 or so Motorhomes so owners won't have to leave their MH while they are in the shop.

We talked about Alpine looks and how good they ride and then she volunteered that the problem with WRV is that they deliver an inferior product expecting the dealership to find and fix all the problems. She said that they just couldn't afford to do that. It costs them too much money in time and labor trying to keep up with it.
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Old 09-23-2005, 07:30 AM   #14
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I agree with most the posts that the major problem with WRV is attention to detail. ISO 9000 is not the answer. I have implemented ISO 9000 at two major electronic companies and it is great in those environments but I believe WRV's issues are actually quite easily fixed. The root cause of all quality problems are motivation, competence or both. I believe the top management does not buy into shipping a quality product and they are just giving quality lip service. They could solve these problems literally overnight with some training and performance management. Instead the rule appears to be "get it out the door now", shipping quotas, etc. The proof will be in the products they ship not what they say they are going to change or do.
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