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Ideas Point of view

Are economic-commercial needs a priority with respect to activities and technical verifications?

More often we discuss design and production processes, focusing our reflections on these issues, often also extrapolating them from the general context of a company. Not because it does not exist but perhaps because it is not always directly connected with what we are talking about.
I make this premise because I would like to tell you about an episode that happened to us a few years ago and that led me to

reflect on the value and weight that the needs of a department of a company have compared to everything else and how this impacts on broad strategic choices.

It happened some time ago that a customer asked me for technical advice about a worm geared motor, whose wheel ended up breaking in the application on which it was mounted (the accessory of a motorcycle). The situation was somewhat critical: it was the end of June and at the beginning of December there was going to be the official presentation of the vehicle in question. While not being able to state the customer’s name, you can imagine the atmosphere of turmoil that the emergency situation had created.

We immediately started working on it, managing to recover in a few weeks all the operating data and the characteristics of the gearmotor in question, and we studied a solution proposal to the serious problem, after having built approximately ten samples to be tested.
Everything was going in the right direction but, considering the technical times that the various life tests required for validation and approval of the piece (in the hope, of course, that everything was fine and that it would not be necessary to go back over certain steps), we pointed out to our customer that, almost certainly, the date fixed for the launch of the vehicle would need to be postponed.

And here we are finally at the crux of the matter. What we heard from our customer was that a deviation was to be excluded at all costs because the “marketing machine” had already been started (road tests, television commercials, press meetings, and so on) and that therefore the vehicle – in one way or another – would still need to be presented and marketed on the pre-set date.
And so it was: the product was approved and the green light was given to an order of pre-series to satisfy the first requests for delivery. Fortunately, everything went well; the revision of the product worked perfectly and the item is still in production.

But I’m referring to another matter. Some time ago, in fact discussing automotive, we reflected on the fact that the damages deriving from a recall campaign can even be the cause of a company’s failure, if the amount of such damage exceeds its own value.
In light of this,

How is it possible that the economic-commercial needs linked to the launch of a vehicle are a priority compared to activities and technical verifications? Is it possible that the costs of any recalls are lower than the economic losses due to a delay in commercialization?

I mean: if you have confidence in a certain production process for the creation of a piece, you may decide to take the risk but in cases like the one I have just mentioned, the starting point was actually a critical situation and the eventuality of a recall deriving from a problem that had come to light after the launch and resulting from the lack of further controls was more than likely.

What are the elements that make you lean towards one choice over another?

I would be interested to hear your opinion on the matter.

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