The Weak Reference

The Weak Reference

Kurser i Domain-Driven Design - Våren 2012




Monday, December 26, 2005

Total Recall – or Lean goes to France (or actually Czechia)

I am a proud owner of a Peugeot 307; it’s a great little car. It looks good, is fun to drive, has a spacious and modern, well designed, interior, good sound proofing; yes pretty much what you look for in a car of this size. As an extra bonus you’ll also get a really close relationship with your local Peugeot service center; since you’ll be bringing in your car for big and small repairs repeatedly there’s plenty of bonding time. It also gives you the opportunity to try out new cars on a regular basis, when you get a courtesy car to drive during the time yours is being patched up. Small tip to fellow Peugeot owners: If you collect and save your recall notices instead of calling the garage to make reservation as soon as you receive them, you can batch the recalls and perhaps only have to visit your garage once a month or so.

Well, seriously, it is a nice car. But when recall notice number three arrives by mail in less than three years (not counting the numerous times you have to visit the garage to fix something that is broken without an official recall), you start to wonder. Not only is it annoying for the owner to go back and forth to the garage like a yo-yo, but also, this must start to get expensive for Peugeot, both with regard to actual service costs and damage to their reputation, which eventually could hurt sales. Anyway, it is quite obvious that quality is not Peugeot’s unique selling proposition.

Apparently Peugeot has reached this conclusion as well. When it was time for PSA to build a new assembly plant in Czechia, they decided to partner up with Toyota. And why would they want to do that? To tap into Toyotas boring design and lack of driving pleasure? No, probably not. Peugeot has a QA problem they need to address, and the way to do this is to build quality in from the beginning, as you will only have limited success trying to patch it on at a later stage. So they turn to the company that currently pretty much defines quality in the automotive industry for help. In the latest edition of the Peugeot customer newsletter, Peugeot New, there is a long feature on the new plant, and when interviewing the manager about the production system the reason for the joint venture is spelled out: “What you have to understand, when it comes to the production, computer and IT systems, it’s Toyota and ‘the Toyota way’ that is used.”

We’ll see how this turns out. Combining Toyota’s lean production system, credited for Toyota’s ability to consistently deliver the best built cars (and along with that a net profit of USD 11B last year), with Peugeot’s feeling for innovative design and character could work out. But I bet there are some corporate cultural differences that need to be solved along the way…

The first products coming out of the TPCA plant, the Citroën C1, Peugeot 107 and Toyota AYGO, are about to hit the showrooms. Time will tell if they deliver to expectations.

And then, as an instant reminder of the absence of the silver bullet, the latest large vehicle recall comes from no other than Toyota themselves. Recalling 160 000 of their environmental flag ship hybrid car, the Prius. You’ll never guess the source of the problem...

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