This Is A Good Question

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by puppypaws, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. puppypaws

    puppypaws LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,922

    What percentage of mower manufacture problems come from their in house work or from components bought from outside sources.

    I notice they change vendors more than we would think, is this for a cheaper price or better component.

    I bought a new anti scalp wheel for my Super Z this week because I eased up over the edge of a stump and cracked the center. I brought the wheel home and started to put it on and I noticed a difference, I actually like the one I had just bought better than the original ones that came on the mower. I went back to the dealer and bought 5 more so I could change all of them. I told him to walk outside and see if he could tell the difference by comparing it to one on a new mower. He said yes, that wheel must have come from a different vendor or the same company changed the design. The old style was more rounded with a pronounced higher area in the center and the new one was not peaked as much in the center with more of the wheel able to take the load across the surface instead of wearing the center totally. I would say it probably does not make a hill of beans but I just like the way the new style looked.
  2. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,988

    I'm sure some of it is for improvements, though no doubt some of it is due to controlling costs.

    I'd think it's fairly easy to guess which components would cause the most problems... It seems that most problems are associated with the hydro systems - I'm assuming that most of those components(pumps, wheel motors, valves) come from outside manufacturers.
  3. puppypaws

    puppypaws LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,922

    Yes, it would be kinda interesting to know what parts of a zero turn mower the company such as Exmark, Hustler, Cub Cadet and other top brands do actually make in house. I guess the frame would be totally theirs but as far as other parts I wish someone could shed some light. I would guess everything from bearings, seats, tires, all hydraulic components, engines and all electronic parts come from outside sources.
  4. JimQ

    JimQ LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,139

    You're absolutely right. Generally, if it's sheet metal, tubing, etc. that need to be cut, bent, welded and painted, it's made in house. Everything else is purchased from vendors as parts or sub-assemblies. There are a handful of vendors for each particular part. If you look close a many Z's they share many common components. Parker or Hydro-Gear for the hydraulics, Carlisle, Gate or Goodyear for belts, etc.

    Managing the quality of parts is a HUGE job for the Quality team. It's not only the vendor you have to worry about, it's the vendor's vender's vendor. With so many parts originating in Low Cost Countries (LCCs) it is difficult to make sure get the same part with the same level of quality as those originally supplied. It happens all of the time, We suddenly get reports of a rash of idler failures or something else that we've have had no issues with for years. After a little digging is done, inevitably we find that the manufacturer of the component changed a bearing or a steel supplier or something else without notifying anyone.

    It's a pain to change vendors. Once established, it's usually only done to cut cost or address a serious quality issue.
  5. puppypaws

    puppypaws LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,922

    You seem to have knowledge of this process, have you been involved in some way.

    I would say sometimes changing vendors for a better price would not necessarily be good business, if you have components that have been very stable in service, I believe that is the one I would stay with. When you change and start having constant recalls for warranty work you end up losing money instead of saving.

    I have seen this happen with good products many times, they have something that has worked flawlessly for years and change for the so called better or money savings, then end up with a inferior product that pulls their company backwards in the business.

    I think we have all seen some of this in the automotive industry but it happens in a lot of places.

    Example, I have a Honda 300 four trax that I bought new in 1992. The four wheeler is used almost every day of the year on my farm for picking up and hauling dead chickens. I also have a boom sprayer mounted on it to spray around field edges and chicken houses.

    It had never been to the shop until last year when I had a complete new exhaust system and new tires put on the machine.

    This is exactly what the owner of the dealerships brother which runs the service department told me. He said "we have been in this business a long, long time and this was the best four wheeler Honda ever built, you just don't have problems with them and the motors will run forever". He then told me they no longer make that machine and the ones they make now are more trouble prone, sometimes the new ones are back within 6 months or less with different problems.

    He then said "the machine you have was made to good, to stay in good financial shape they not only have to sell new machines but a lot of parts need to be sold also. I said what you are telling me is if everyone had a machine like this there profit margin would be a lot less, he said "if everyone had this machine we would all be out of the four wheeler business, you just never see them come into this shop except to be tuned up. Some people change their oil, service the air filter and maybe change a spark plug and you never see the machine, I know I own one myself".

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