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Old 08-22-2005, 05:36 PM   #1
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Not to start a B'ing session, but hopefully to provide useful input for the factory & management:

W/our recent coach pickup @ the factory, factory tour, etc., it seems like there is a lot of reliance by WRV on fixing production problems in the hands of customers, rather than catching them in the first place. Businesses where everyone is in charge of QC, i.e. anyone on the payroll can call an error, stop production on a unit from continuing till the error is recognized & a fix is put in place, have high initial QC and great customer satisfaction. E.g., during our factory tour, one customer (owns an '01 or so Alpine) pointed the guide to a frame cutout that was not chafe-guarded, and said: "That looks rougher than a cob." The hoses and wiring that passed thru the oval cutout were in fact rubbing against the roughly cut steel. So I figure that if an untutored customer can spot the problem, whoever ran the hoses & wiring should have also; and so should others who work on the chassis; and so should the types who put the house on; etc.. And certainly the guide should have had the authority and responsability for bringing the situation to the attention of somebody who could attend to a fix before a house went on the chassis. But no. The tour went along, and the guide did nothing. That appears to be typical. Imagine the money that will be spent if there is enough chaffing during the warranty period to cause a complaint (hydraulic leak, or hopefully not, a fire), vs. the cost to chafe-wrap the rough-cut steel before the house goes on. Peanuts vs. several hundred, or maybe thousands in lost profit. When it is everybody's job requirement, QC gets done. When there is embarrasment in someone else calling the error, folks get serious about their own initial quality. There should be an initial quality bonus for all manufacturing employees; and cross-trade oversight; if not, why would anybody feel mgmt was serious about quality? If its somebody else's problem, why worry?

Other things that should have been caught on our coach by any of a number of mfg'rg employees:
1) roof wrinkled @ all four corners, then prep'd & painted over; at least 8 people had to work on those corners after they were wrinkled, & nobody called for a fix.
2) floor not flat passing over FR wheel, causing warped molding that runs lenght of coach on Rt side
3) BR slide not positioned correctly on HWH mounts, so corner abraded aluminum frame of coach cut-out; awning sagged 1"+; about 6 man days spent fixing this.
4) BR slide cutout not square; lower edge has 5/8" wow in 30" visible to the naked eye (ask Mike Glazier, he spotted it right off). Obviously the cutout is cut by hand, w/out a guide. Whoopie's like that could cost a bundle if the customer said "fix it." Ditto w/#2, how do you fix that after the house is built?
5) Stoopidly loud fans behind a $4K television set. Is anybody listening to the hi-fi equipment to see if it is up to the caliber it should be? (besides customers?) Same w/HDTV not wired to allow HDTV viewing.

These are all things any customer can see. Doesn't take expertise in respective trades. Therefore any illiterate slob on the street like me, and all of WRV's employees should be able to assist in substantially boosting initial quality, and decreasing WRV's cost of delivering a well found coach. And they all cost a dime to do right in the factory, and a dollar to fix later.

My other suggestion is to involve customers in ideas for design & execution. We heard a great story about Ron Doyle's wife designing kitchens. To the extent Alpine kitchens are both beautiful, and well designed, that's great. Customers who use their coaches have some pretty savvy and salable ideas too. And since Alpine's tend to sell to owners who are serious about their coaches, a cross section of input from owners would be both good levening and great marketing. This last has to do with long term value, and word of mouth advertising (I know that's the best kind in my line of work, cuz its both free and believable). If people are happy, they tell their friends; if they are unhappy they tell everybody. So quality of design & execution, as judged by coach users, makes a pretty good yardstick. E.g., our water tank was filled by WRV, and the water tasted like plastic; I asked for an empty/refill, so they pulled the drain handle, emptied the tank, and stretched the green garden hose to refill (gee, I wonder where the plastic taste came from???). Ask an owner who uses their coach. They know how to fill a water tank, but the initial delivery crew does not. (And BTW Mike Parker in Parts at the service facility stocks potable water hoses.)

There are my suggestions. Feel free to add or comment. See y'all @ Bullhead City rally. Mike
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Old 08-22-2005, 05:36 PM   #2
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Not to start a B'ing session, but hopefully to provide useful input for the factory & management:

W/our recent coach pickup @ the factory, factory tour, etc., it seems like there is a lot of reliance by WRV on fixing production problems in the hands of customers, rather than catching them in the first place. Businesses where everyone is in charge of QC, i.e. anyone on the payroll can call an error, stop production on a unit from continuing till the error is recognized & a fix is put in place, have high initial QC and great customer satisfaction. E.g., during our factory tour, one customer (owns an '01 or so Alpine) pointed the guide to a frame cutout that was not chafe-guarded, and said: "That looks rougher than a cob." The hoses and wiring that passed thru the oval cutout were in fact rubbing against the roughly cut steel. So I figure that if an untutored customer can spot the problem, whoever ran the hoses & wiring should have also; and so should others who work on the chassis; and so should the types who put the house on; etc.. And certainly the guide should have had the authority and responsability for bringing the situation to the attention of somebody who could attend to a fix before a house went on the chassis. But no. The tour went along, and the guide did nothing. That appears to be typical. Imagine the money that will be spent if there is enough chaffing during the warranty period to cause a complaint (hydraulic leak, or hopefully not, a fire), vs. the cost to chafe-wrap the rough-cut steel before the house goes on. Peanuts vs. several hundred, or maybe thousands in lost profit. When it is everybody's job requirement, QC gets done. When there is embarrasment in someone else calling the error, folks get serious about their own initial quality. There should be an initial quality bonus for all manufacturing employees; and cross-trade oversight; if not, why would anybody feel mgmt was serious about quality? If its somebody else's problem, why worry?

Other things that should have been caught on our coach by any of a number of mfg'rg employees:
1) roof wrinkled @ all four corners, then prep'd & painted over; at least 8 people had to work on those corners after they were wrinkled, & nobody called for a fix.
2) floor not flat passing over FR wheel, causing warped molding that runs lenght of coach on Rt side
3) BR slide not positioned correctly on HWH mounts, so corner abraded aluminum frame of coach cut-out; awning sagged 1"+; about 6 man days spent fixing this.
4) BR slide cutout not square; lower edge has 5/8" wow in 30" visible to the naked eye (ask Mike Glazier, he spotted it right off). Obviously the cutout is cut by hand, w/out a guide. Whoopie's like that could cost a bundle if the customer said "fix it." Ditto w/#2, how do you fix that after the house is built?
5) Stoopidly loud fans behind a $4K television set. Is anybody listening to the hi-fi equipment to see if it is up to the caliber it should be? (besides customers?) Same w/HDTV not wired to allow HDTV viewing.

These are all things any customer can see. Doesn't take expertise in respective trades. Therefore any illiterate slob on the street like me, and all of WRV's employees should be able to assist in substantially boosting initial quality, and decreasing WRV's cost of delivering a well found coach. And they all cost a dime to do right in the factory, and a dollar to fix later.

My other suggestion is to involve customers in ideas for design & execution. We heard a great story about Ron Doyle's wife designing kitchens. To the extent Alpine kitchens are both beautiful, and well designed, that's great. Customers who use their coaches have some pretty savvy and salable ideas too. And since Alpine's tend to sell to owners who are serious about their coaches, a cross section of input from owners would be both good levening and great marketing. This last has to do with long term value, and word of mouth advertising (I know that's the best kind in my line of work, cuz its both free and believable). If people are happy, they tell their friends; if they are unhappy they tell everybody. So quality of design & execution, as judged by coach users, makes a pretty good yardstick. E.g., our water tank was filled by WRV, and the water tasted like plastic; I asked for an empty/refill, so they pulled the drain handle, emptied the tank, and stretched the green garden hose to refill (gee, I wonder where the plastic taste came from???). Ask an owner who uses their coach. They know how to fill a water tank, but the initial delivery crew does not. (And BTW Mike Parker in Parts at the service facility stocks potable water hoses.)

There are my suggestions. Feel free to add or comment. See y'all @ Bullhead City rally. Mike
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Old 08-22-2005, 07:28 PM   #3
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Mike,
Just to let you know: The Alpine Coach Association has an "owners forum" working with Ron Doyle on suggestions for quality control and/or changes and ideas for future coaches. The owners in this forum have all owned at least 2 coaches (usually an early model and a newer one)and some are on their 3rd Alpine Coach. If you are going to the Bullhead City rally, you will probably run into one of the couples on this forum - John & Gale Stacey.
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Old 08-23-2005, 10:51 AM   #4
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Mike,
I will jump in here in regards to quality at WRV. We own a 2004 Avalanche, the coach has all of the amenities that we were looking for at a great price point. I am extremely pleased with the handling of the coach as well.

That said, I can honestly say that I have experienced WRV QC (or lack therof) first hand. When we encountered our first significant rain storm, we found that the roof on our coach leaked severely. We also had the bedroom slide mounted improperly. Both of these items required the coach to be returned to the factory for rework, resulting in extensive cost to WRV and us being without the coach a total of 85 days. The cause of the water leak was that the roof had not been sealed on either side! Manufacturing steps that are missed are significant and can be avoided with the addition of a shop "log" of operations.

I talked with Mike Glazier while at WRV on both of my trips about the quality issues. Mike and his team have been great at working with me to get the coach to a satisfactory condition, by the way. I believe that Mike recognizes the fact that WRV is suffering from poor manufacturing, first pass, quality. The problem is that until WRV embraces the need for in-process quality control, it will not happen.

My recommendation to WRV would be to enlist the aid of a quality consultant to review their record and processes. With the application of the right quality assurance program, their costs associated with warranty and PDI rework could be greatly reduced along with an increase in customer satisfaction. As an aerospace quality assurance manager with 22 years experience, I have seen first hand the addage of pay me a little now, or a lot later. I am certainly not advocating that WRV adopt an aerospace type quality program, but they could do some minor lower cost things that would result in vast improvements.

Any good quality assurance program begins at the senior management level. As employees see that their management is committed to quality, they will recognize that quality is an important goal and begin to incorporate quality concepts into their daily job function.

I am generaly happy with my Alpine at this time. It is unfortunate that we have had such major problems with this coach, the stress and not having the use of the coach for an extensive period of time have made the first year of ownership less than stellar. If WRV were to embark on a plan to improve quality, I would likely be a repeat customer (even though the Avalanche is no longer in the product line).
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:25 AM   #5
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I very much agree with you. The hours and the miles we have logged trying to do what should have been done before.
I read on a post that they would like to order a new Coach but just could not go thru another one year of Shakedown. Just think how their sales would go up if we did not feel that way too.
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Old 08-23-2005, 07:17 PM   #6
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Wow, all the problems you are having with the new coaches. I can't imagine the patience required after plunking down 250K+. I thought I read a post by Danny Gayhart that WRV is having a very good year. If this is the case, they could be taking advantage of the increase in orders, turning up production....all the while other manufactures are experiencing a decrease in sales. I have to believe that WRV is aware of the problems, costs involved, customers that truly like their coaches...after they are fixed...and just need to empower people to stop the mistake from moving on down the line.
I don't see Patty and I buying a new coach before we retire. We would never have the time to get it fixed! We have owned our 2000 for 1 year now and traveled 19K miles. We have had very few problems and all were small.
When we are ready for another coach, 2 slides would be nice, we will settle for one of your Alpines
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Old 08-24-2005, 04:53 AM   #7
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For what it's worth, here's my take on the problems Alpine Coach buyers as well as buyers of other motorhomes from different manufacturers are experiencing . While manufacturers may put up a good front, in actuality they could care less about maintaining good quality control. Their philosophy is "Get it built, get it out the door, and hope that it will make it to the dealer in one peace." After that, it's the dealers problem. Let them worry about quality control. The dealer can't afford the assigned cost involved in performing quality control work so they pass the problem on down to the consumer. If there are 20 things wrong with the coach and the consumer only catches 10 before his warranty runs out, they are that much ahead. In the meantime, all the manufacturer has to do is placate the current owners association with the promise that they are working on any problems that they are experiencing in the hopes that they can maintain a good following.

The solution to some of these problems is to do what Engineer Mike did and arrange delivery at the factory. Make them do the work before it ever leaves the plant. When the costs of re-building a new Motorhome mounts up they'll soon decide that it would be cheaper to build it right in the first place. The problem is that there are very few people who will be willing to spend a couple of weeks in Yakima making up a punch list and then seeing to it that the job gets done before they leave. For every one Mike, who takes the time to hold the builders feet to the fire, there are dozens of others who think that buying a motorhome is like buying a Buick. After all, it has four wheels right?

If I sound cynical, it's because I am. I've wanted to buy a new RV since I've retired, but I don't have the energy to fight the good fight. In the economy of time, it would be better to just be content to spend weekends at a local camp with my 20 year old trailer and use the money I would spend on an RV to take as many cruises as my wife wants and to check out two or three resorts a year.

I've said my peace.

Opa
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Old 08-24-2005, 04:54 AM   #8
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Tom and Patty good plan, I sure don't want to go through the first year blues again. Mine will be 1 year old on the 26th. Everything is working well now and I am very happy with my coach. We just took a short trip (250 miles) to get the hydro hot recall done. I must say the coach drove like a dream. I found the last minor rattle and was really impressed with how tight the coach is now.
Looking back most of my problems were related to slide leaks; the rest of the stuff was more of a nuisance and annoyance. I was able to fix most of it myself.


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Old 08-24-2005, 09:43 AM   #9
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Back in my early discussions w/dealers & WRV's sales help in Yakima, I was told the factory was pushing the factory delivery "option," as they had found it lowered warranty cost. I have no doubt. Dealers, and especially repair facilities unrelated to WRV, need to make a buck on repairs, so WRV winds up paying mark-up for on-the-road warranty claims.
In addition, the factory guys get to see the same stuff repeatedly, so they know the fixes for many claims & can go right to work, while dealer & repair facility tech's frequently need OJT to figure something out. This is true even on simple appliance rattles & the like, since WRV uses the same appliances repeatedly. Gotta cost WRV quite a bit more to have foreigners dial in a coach rather than their folks.
So why the list price of factory delivery is $1400 is a mystery to me. Should be a token fee to really encourage factory delivery. In fact, they should have a running dealer incentive on this "option;" e.g., buy a coach (like Jim & MaryJo did from dealer in NC), have it returned to the factory for customer pick up there.
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Old 08-25-2005, 08:35 AM   #10
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">...the factory guys get to see the same stuff repeatedly, so they know the fixes for many claims & can go right to work... </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

EngineerMike has a good point. The factory guys do hear or see all of the complaints and should be the most qualified to diagnose a problem.

However, when I took our coach into Yakima and complained about the right front rattle, the first two guys did not offer an opinion. It was only by chance that a different tech, on a test ride, had heard it before and knew where to look. It would seem that there is no avenue for them to share their experiences with each other.
Perhaps the techs should have an internal forum like this one so they can log all of the causes and solutions to "Right Front Rattle", etc. Then they could do a search before turning a wrench.
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Old 08-25-2005, 09:41 AM   #11
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Better than an internal forum, a Troubleshooting Guide available to both tech's & owners off WRV's website. That's pretty high tech for WRV, so while at it, they could post wiring schematics, and a whole buncha other available technical data that now gets handled only in dead tree media and only during the working week and only w/WRV tech labor involved.
Alfa See-Ya owners can log onto the Alfa site and get all their drawings as we speak (24/7/365), so adding troubleshooting is a natural improvement on & extension of this trend.
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