What are the causes and consequences of BMW’s quality problems with newly launched products? What should be done to improve “launch quality”? BMW made extensive use of computer-aided design and computer simulation before testing by actually sitting in and driving a fully functional vehicle. Prototyping can improve the quality of requirements and specifications provided to developers. Because changes cost exponentially more to implement as they are detected later in development, the early determination of what the user really wants can result in faster and less expensive software.
Prototyping requires user involvement and allows them to see and interact with a prototype allowing them to provide better and more complete feedback and specifications. The presence of the prototype being examined by the user prevents many misunderstandings and miscommunications that occur when each side believe the other understands what they said. Analysis: There are some problems using prototyping during newly launched products. Current prototypes are geared more towards engineers than customers, as highly skilled workers made the prototypes at the design and engineer center.
The current production process was a poor reflection of estimated production rate and product quality. Another consequence of utilizing highly skilled workers affected testing in a negative manner and was possibly a reason for the increased number of defects; thus, customer complaints were at level that was higher than desirable. Also, customers started expecting more due to competitors’ high quality luxury automobiles. Potential ways to improve launch quality: BMW should conduct marketing studies to determine what customers expect and want.
BMW should then incorporate such expectations and requests in its design phase. Analysis: A vehicle under development was divided into 30 major subsystems or modules, such as the cockpit, interior trim, trunk, side doors, rear suspension system, and braking system. An interfunctional team of people from design, product engineering, production engineering prototyping, vehicle testing, procurement, manufacturing, and other functions was responsible for each module of the car from start to launch. During this period, BMW let suppliers involve into development after “cubing”.
Suppliers meet quality problems during their first production and they don’t have enough time before new model introduction. Potential ways to improve launch quality: Ask the suppliers join the design earlier, some suppliers have a lot of experiences and skills, and they can give many suggestions. So before quality launch, some problems will be avoided. Analysis: BMW spend more time and effort styling than almost any other car company, during this time they are trying to create and aesthetically excellent and durable design.
But on the other hand, when BMW starts the first commercial production, BMW produces new model may old already. Japanese car will give more choose to customer. Potential ways to improve launch quality: BMW should make the faster design schedules, combine some departments, let them communication easier. When some problems happen during the design, the engineers should solve it fast and mangers should make the fast decision what they should do.