Last summer, we visited a Material Handling factory that looked well organized, with a neat shop floor, a good manufacturing process in place and products that looked consistently good.
Two months later, as part of a second and routine visit, we had a shock: the shop floor was a chaos, with equipment and piles of Work In Process all over the place, unclear process flow … The well designed conveyors we had seen once were replaced by cheap metal assemblies manufactured by the ton and piled-up rusting outside in the rain!
When asked, the General Manager, apparently comfortable with the mess in his factory explained: It’s messy this month but don’t worry! Last time you came, we were working on a project for a Japanese company, and there are very demanding on quality. But now we are busy working for a Chinese one, with large volumes, cheap prices and low margins, so we don’t have to make good products !!!
This example is significant of the concept of quality in some Chinese industrial companies. There are indeed major differences between the companies that institutionalize quality and those that force it in once in a while, when for example, their customers insist and are physically on site to ensure the basic principle of manufacturing quality are followed during the time of their project.