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Thread: Rear Underbelly Stuff

  1. #91
    Site Sponsor offtohavasu's Avatar
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    Rob,

    I'm surprised you didn't find anything like this under there:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Curtis, Christine, Cole, and Charlotte

    2007 Chevrolet Silverado Duramax LBZ, CCLB
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  2. #92
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    I definitely don't want to look under the belly of my 2019 Imagine unit.
    I am an IT director in a aircraft manufacturing operation and recall one reference in this thread about creating a standard wiring harness. I am trying to envision how many harnesses they would need to stock to support manufacturing operations. I am guessing they forecast x-number of each model to be manufactured each. So, if they did not have any staff set aside to specifically building wiring harnesses like we do, then they would need to appropriate someone from the floor to do such. It would seem that approach would work. I am betting material savings may not be much, but I suspect installation time would decrease and overall product quality would improve as well.
    2019 Imagine 2800BH
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  3. #93
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    I truly mean no disrespect when I say.......reading thru this thread, I'm LMAO. If Rob is reading this, he probably knows where this is going.

    Prior to our 337 purchase in 2016, our only "knowledge" of RV's was what we saw at RV shows and that was interior workmanship, décor, layout, amenities, etc. My first clue about the RV manufacturing industry should have been when, at one show, I commented to a sales person, "You know, we've been to a few RV shows and have been in a lot of RV's - some very expensive - and one thing I noticed was that none of the 5er's or TT's have disc brakes. Is that an option or does any manufacturer offer/include them?" And here's where my clue shoulda happened. Without skipping a beat, the guy said something to the effect, I'm not aware of any manufacturer that builds their units with disc brakes. Why would you want them? I mean, drum brakes are tried & true and no one has ever complained about them. Besides, that's the way the industry has always built them. <----- Re-read that last sentence and let that sink in for a moment. Because that was what I was about to hear over & over. "That's the way we've always done it."

    Once we bought our 337 and I found this forum, I kinda established a rapport with a couple of members - once of which was Rob. Although he and I came from two different manufacturing products (him cars and me executive biz jets), we kinda knew where each was coming from. We also had/have a pretty extensive knowledge of manufacturing technology/techniques/methods/etc. Over a period of time and messaging, I came to learn from Rob that "That's the way we've always done it" wasn't just a passing comment, but a harsh, hard cold reality. Now, I'll admit that I've been somewhat jaded & spoiled because when you spend 32 years at a company that builds anywhere from $45M to $65M airplanes, you get use to cutting edge design and state-of-the-art manufacturing and tooling and a company willing to spend money to save money. And I wasn't so naïve as to think that RV manufacturers could spend the kinda moola we spent - but c'mon man......using suspension that was designed in the late 30's and 40's???

    I was fortunate to meet Rob at the owners rally in 2017 and, as expected, our talks eventually turned to, what I'll call an entrenched, self inflicted, manufacturing paradigm. At one point Rob asked if I was going on a factory tour and I said yes. He chuckled and said something to the effect, you're not gonna believe what you see - especially how they do their wiring and the labor intensive build process. I kinda thought he was exaggerating a bit but......oh hell no. What I saw just had me shaking my head and wondering if anybody in GD had ever visited ANY mass production company outside of the RV industry. Hell - at Gulfstream, we were constantly visiting other production companies for benchmarking and looking for new ideas. So here's some questions (not all) I asked (our tour guides were a production manager & a production shop foreman/supervisor) and you probably can guess the answers.

    - In the exterior wall production area I asked if they had ever considered prepreg composite production since not only was the time for the adhesive they apply to the layers time critical, the layup method was pretty labor intensive. At first I got that three heads look and, you guessed it, "Yeah.....I know what you're taking about. But we've not considered it since this method works pretty good and that's the way most of the industry does it, so we haven't seen the need to change."

    - In one shop area (where work had ceased for the day), I asked if they had considered any type of lean manufacturing techniques like 5S (essentially a place for everything and everything in its place) or continuous improvement. Yep - same look and response.

    - In one area where they build the cabinets, I asked if they had considered composite construction. I was asked to explain further. So I described the honey comb composite construction technique of our cabinets and/or walls that what we do in the aircraft industry to save weight yet create stronger structure than if solid wood were used. I also said that we use real (fairly thick) real wood veneer - some of which is very exotic - on the cabinets/walls. First I got a deer in the headlights look and then a response like folks that buy RV's want real solid wood, I'm not sure they'd go for that type of stuff. I just sighed.........

    - We get to the wiring shop and OMG - the first thing that caught my eye was this huge scrap bin overflowing with wire. In my former world, we call this "drop" or waste. I looked at my wife and said, "If that was at Gulfstream, the VP of production's head would explode followed by someone's head on a stake. Seriously though, had that happened at Gulfstream, production would've been halted, a team would've been established and charged with identifying the root cause of the waste and what methods would be put into place to prevent a repeated occurrence. I asked why there was so much waste and was told (essentially) that was a by-product of how they wire the units. I followed up and asked if they had ever considered designed wire harnesses that would allow them to plug & play the unit. The answer? Yeah....we thought about it, but figured it would take too much time and money to do the engineering. What he really shoulda said was, we don't have a production engineering department and that's the way everybody does it. Despite the elbow jabbing from the wife, I couldn't let it go. I commented that there are plenty of companies out there that you could contract that out to since they have the software/hardware to design harnesses and harness boards - and they even have the ability to ringout (test) the harnesses before you install them so you can be assured they work as designed. I just got this "look" like I was the class disruptor. Besides, there were other more important questions from the group like how do they decide on colors.

    Once the tour was over, the production manager asked me what I did for a living. I started out with "I'm a Mechanical Engineer by trade, but have worked most of my life in the area of production, manufacturing process improvement, engineering management and a couple of stints on manufacturing execution software implementation teams." His reply, "I kinda figured that with your questions." I jokingly commented that if GD would hire me and gimme a small staff of manufacturing engineers, I wouldn't ask for a salary for 2 years. But after that, you can pay me 20% of what I've saved you. But.....you probably can't do that because that 20% figure would be obscenely high. He just laughed. Inside - I was serious.

    Once back at the rally, Rob & I got together and he asked what I thought. I think I said something like, I'm not really sure where to begin. But I do understand now what you've been trying to get through my thick skull. Not only are they "doing it this way because that's how we've always done it" they have no real desire to explore other methods/techniques - even if it saves them a sh*t ton of money. I think I also suggested we change the subject because what I saw hurt my brain.

    But as much as I'd almost take a beating from a big man, my anal self cannot keep me from dropping the chloroplast from my 337. I know - it's an affliction and the drugs I take for it don't help.

    Tom

  4. #94
    Site Sponsor Country Campers's Avatar
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    Tom

    Great post. I will add while at the factory last year for the tour all I could here was air leaks from what must have been a 100 or more air leaks. I had mentioned that if you would fix those air leaks you could probably save enough money from the air compressor not running to give away maybe 10 campers a year, got the same look as you did.
    The reason RV manufactures do not care about whats behind the walls is , nobody really looks there and therefore does not need to be organized or done right. They are in business to mass produce and sell as many as they can before something different comes along. If they would slow down and do it right they probably have a better chance of producing a high quality RV but the cost would go way up in order to make a certain dollar amount per day.

    Someone had posted on here that an RV is an unfinished project that we pay a lot of money for and then have to finish.
    For you having no knowledge of an RV prior to purchase does not take away from me or many others that have owned an RV of some kind for a long time but until this forum I had no idea of the many things that can go wrong or things that are waiting to go wrong. Many buy and use and get rid of an RV with little to no idea of what it actually is.

    Good post and when I get a garage i also will pull down the coroplast and do some cleaning up down there.

    Brian
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  5. #95
    Site Sponsor Cate&Rob's Avatar
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    Hi Tom,

    That's a long read . . . but a very good summary of what we have both learned about this industry. My only regret is that I didn't go on the same factory tour that you did, just so I could watch you in action .

    I wonder if the upcoming downturn in the RV industry will cause any of the manufacturers to step out of the 1970's and into current production methods rather than go out of business? The largest hurdle and "price of admission" into modern production methods is to stop paying their workforce based on number of units produced. The first RV manufacturer with deep enough pockets to get over this hurdle will set the new standard for all the others . . . or put them out of business. The time saving and quality improvements like wiring harnesses will follow quickly after that.

    Rob
    Last edited by Cate&Rob; 01-11-2019 at 06:57 PM.
    Cate & Rob
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  6. #96
    Site Sponsor Canyonlight's Avatar
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    Tom - that was great.......don't know whether to laugh or cry. Time for some bourbon with tedzz.

    Dan
    Dan & Carol (Formerly Toes In The Water - Now Canyonlight)
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  7. #97
    Site Sponsor BigSwick's Avatar
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    Tom, so the question of the day is: If you had taken the tour before you bought your RV, would you have still purchased a Grand Design? I don't think even the Prevost use any kind of pre-made wiring harness...

  8. #98
    Site Sponsor Cate&Rob's Avatar
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    BigSwick - The problem is . . . if we want to take part in this towable RV lifestyle, there are no alternatives other than the build quality of this entire industry. Anyone buying from any manufacturer has to be prepared to deal with the hidden wiring/plumbing/mechanical problems and the cheapest possible appliances. Plus a dealer service industry that is incredibly incompetent (for the most part . . . there are a few good ones).

    Until the profit margin disappears from building like this and treating customers like this . . . there is no motivation for this industry to change. Unless an offshore manufacturer takes an interest in the RV market (think what the Japanese did to/for the auto industry) I don’t see any incentive for current practices to change.

    Rob
    Cate & Rob
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  9. #99
    Senior Member kevinpo's Avatar
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    HI Tom,
    I sure wish I could've been on that tour with you It would have been a real hoot! Thanks for taking the time for the write up.

    Cheers,
    Kevin
    2015 Ram Laramie 3500 4x4 LB Dually Crew Cab
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  10. #100
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    Nice write up. This is sad in how volume is the main driver in RV production. This used to work in the auto industry when there was no competition. There are plenty of electrical firms that engineer and supply wiring harnesses to the auto industry. For GDRV....pay once for the services, buy the harnesses and reduce assembly costs while building a real reputation for quality.
    Same for the chassis which could be designed to be more robust while not really adding excessive mass. Additional options such as disc brakes and independent suspension would only raise the bar for the company. For the wiring, its still easier to have folks connect point A to point B while wrapping the wires around anything that does not move. Or moves a little. This will in most cases hold up past the warranty period and that's all that matters. The industry is ripe to be taken over by advanced engineered units built with modern processes.
    MidwestCamper

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