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Old 02-29-2016, 02:48 PM   #1
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Forest River / RV Quality

A few of the MBS threads have evolved into discussions of build quality. Quality is a big issue in the RV business and I'm sure everyone would like it to be better - but I think it's important to understand the position the manufacturers are in and the competing interests which they have to balance.
  • The RV business isn't the car business. Forest River isn't building a million MBS units - they're building maybe 5,000 or 10,000. These are being offered across 3 or 4 brands with 3 or 4 floor plans and a sizable number of options. So...what does this mean? It means that Forest River doesn't have 200 engineers designing the product. It means they don't have 2,000 robots building the product.
  • As if that isn't enough of an issue, the products don't really have a fixed "model year". Oh, there's something that says it's a 2014 or 2011 or whatever, but the fact is that the models are constantly evolving with minor changes taking place on an irregular basis. Sometimes change is good - fixing the problem with the Curt lighting controller - sometimes it probably causes a new issue to be resolved later.
  • The RV business is very labor intensive. While the chassis and related equipment can add up, each unit spends a fair amount of time on the assembly floor with builders swarming over it, each doing their part. I haven't seen the Forest River assembly line, but I have seen other RV manufacturing facilities and it's a lot of men and women with power tools cutting and installing and bringing it all together.
  • The RV business is pretty competitive. You can go down the road and buy an MBS-based motorhome from a dozen...or two dozen...different builders, each of whom may be putting out 3 or 4 brands with 3 or 4 floorplans. The buyer has lots of choices. Needless to say, with all these choices the bottom line becomes a major factor.
  • Cost was a key factor when I purchased my Solera. I scoped out other brands and found them to be more expensive by $20,000 or more. For the most part, I didn't get the feeling that the extra money went into more careful construction of the unit...it went into fancier equipment or fancier paint jobs. There are builders out there who spend the extra money on carefully handbuilt motorhomes ... you can buy their big diesel pushers for a million or three ... maybe they even do the same thing on the Sprinter chassis.
  • This is not to say that I don't care about quality - I do. But I think it's important to maintain perspective on the various issues facing an RV builder - low volumes, limited margins, high labor costs, intense competition and varying demands and priorities of the buying public. Would I like to have the excess saw dust and drilled out plugs cleaned up? Sure. Do I want to pay a few thousand more for something I only see when I look behind the panels? Well, not so much.
Dave
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Old 02-29-2016, 02:59 PM   #2
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On the bright side, you have a Mercedes chassis that can be counted on, to get you to and from the factory for repairs.
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Old 02-29-2016, 03:06 PM   #3
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Wow that's a lot of excuses.
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Old 02-29-2016, 03:17 PM   #4
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VERRY well said Dave Jordan


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Old 02-29-2016, 05:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lgray View Post
On the bright side, you have a Mercedes chassis that can be counted on, to get you to and from the factory for repairs.
Don't bet the farm on that one...
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Old 03-01-2016, 05:12 AM   #6
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My past career was with Toyota National Manufacturing Headquarters in North America.

Quality problems that occur at dealer and after delivery need a consistent info feed back to the factory where processes can be altered to fix the root cause at the source. This takes the work load off the dealer and the consumer for addressing the same problems over and over.

Having standardized build processes and quality control is not difficult and can be implemented regardless of number of units being built,competition or head count.

The guy who installs a fixture should have a vac hose to clean up as part of his install process for example.

Volume and competition are the exact reason why standardized processes and quality control are so important, not why it should be excused.




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Old 03-01-2016, 06:58 AM   #7
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there is NO excuse for the complete crap workmanship they pump out every day. There is no excuse for the way they randomly install screws and nails that either don't hold or go through something it shouldn't. There is no excuse for stuff not working right out of the factory. There is no excuse for stuff needing so many adjustments and tweeking before you take delivery of it. You wouldn't accept this workmanship on anything else you buy, don't accept and make excuses for it here. If a small handful of manufacturers can get it right, why can't the rest?
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:09 AM   #8
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I worked as a industrial electrician for thirty five years, every job we worked on was important, from the offices to the sewer farm, everything needed to be done right, and on the even keel, plumb and solid, for my boss on his business cards all read, on time, under budget, and to the customers satisfaction, he was that way from the fist day I met him, I worked for him personally for 25 years, he died at 74 and worked the friday before he died, and was still that way, I believe every customer, no matter what the service deserves that scope of care,
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:20 AM   #9
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These are basically houses on wheels. I have not known anyone that had a house built that did not have the contractor come back and do some type of tweak. Some issues are due to components made by other companies. That's why when in construction there is what is called a punch card that needs to be resolved before signing off on the project. Sometime the contractor is back multiple times to get it fixed.

Yes cleaning up the work debris is an issue with RV construction and some fit and finish items.

Yes RV industry can and should do better. But in the world of manufacturing there will be issues.

Automobiles have recalls, look at the airbag issue. Is this the fault of car manufacturer? No it is the fault of the component manufacture but the auto manufacture has to fix the issue.

I had problems with my TT new. I'm getting them fixed but still enjoying the heck out of my camper.
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Old 03-01-2016, 01:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
There is NO excuse for the complete crap workmanship they pump out every day. There is no excuse for the way they randomly install screws and nails that either don't hold or go through something it shouldn't. There is no excuse for stuff not working right out of the factory. There is no excuse for stuff needing so many adjustments and tweeking before you take delivery of it. You wouldn't accept this workmanship on anything else you buy, don't accept and make excuses for it here. If a small handful of manufacturers can get it right, why can't the rest?
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As I continue to rebuild parts of my Rockwwod on a regular basis I have to wonder who thought putting metal staples into square aluminum tubing was a good idea. Metal takes a screw to hold, not a staple.
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