Originally Posted by ShopGimp
The overwhelming majority of the 10-25 days-a-year, career/family man/woman, is oblivious to a bad shop tune, let alone a bad factory tune.
I'd like to disagree. First, many who are professionals in the industry, and/or live in ski towns, forget how much time and effort it takes for most Americans that work full-time, and don't live in ski towns (which is the case for most US skiers), to get to a mountain. I.e., most people that ski 10-25 days/year actually are pretty serious about the sport. If you live in Tampa and ski 10 days/year, and get three weeks of annual vacation, you are serious about skiing. If you live in NYC you need to drive a few of hours to get to good skiing, so if you ski 20 days/year, you are serious about skiing. And those people can certainly notice bad tunes. Indeed, I'd argue that even a more casual (few days per year) skier can have a scary experience on a badly tuned ski.
And if Joe and Jane skier really are so clueless about ski performance, then why even bother lavishing all the engineering effort to continually try to make better-performing skis? Sure, a lot of it's marketing, but it's not all marketing -- ski manufacturers really do care about -- and have some ego invested in -- the performance of their skis. I've met the principals of one ski manufacturer during a factory tour, and I guarantee you that if I said something like "your skis sell well but perform poorly," they wouldn't have smiled and said "hey, if it sells that's all we care about" -- in fact, they would have been offended. Too bad I forgot to ask about tuning!
So, let's return to my conundrum, which no one here has yet answered: If a good shop has the expertise to produce a good machine tune, a factory certainly would as well (yes, as choucas said above, there are variables; but they're no different from the variables a shop has to deal with). Sure they crank out thousands of skis, but that's the nature of manufacturing. And not just ski manufacturing, but all factory manufacturing. Yet volume production is never tolerated as an excuse for a lack of QC. Indeed, the ski manufacturers themselves must have sophisticated QC everywhere else, since their products are otherwise fairly consistent. So my question is, essentially, this: why don't they maintain the same QC for one of their final finishing steps (tuning) that they do elsewhere in their line? I.e., if I had a ski manufacturer standing in front of me, what would he or she say?
I'll offer my own partial explanation here: these big ski manufacturers fail in quality for the same reason any big manufacturer fails in quality: it's an organizational, rather than a technical, failure. When it comes to tunes, they're like GM: they're big bureaucracies that know it would be better if their quality were better, but can't seem to get it right. Except the ski manufacturers, it seems, have figured out how to get the other parts of QC right, so why not this?
Originally Posted by ShopGimp
Amersports, The Technica Group, The Rossignol Group, K2 Corporation….they all put out a product that is good enough for the consumer. If this wasn't the case, and your average recreational skier gave a spit, then I'm sure market pressures would force the ski manufacturers hands.
Yeah, it's true they can get away with it, just like the US car manufacturers also didn't feel any market pressure to improve quality in the 1970's -- until the Japanese provided a better-quality product and cleaned their clocks.
Edited by chemist - 12/23/14 at 11:27am