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Albeit it takes a lot of guts comparing Märklin products to Hornby´s, that is not the point in this thread I find most arguable.

It has been claimed here that the western companies who give their orders to the "lowest bidder" are to blame. I strongly disagree, and find the blame for lead-painted health-hazardous toys and models on the Chinese side - solely.

Why is that? First, in the media report, it has been claimed that e.g. Mattel ordered some Jeep from a Chinese toymaker, who in turn sub-contracted the order. That subcontractor used the hazardous paint. Now, I can see that Mattel wants a piece of the profit cake by ordering from a Chinese manufacturer. However, had that original manufacturer simply carried out the order rather than wanting money for nothing, or in other words subcontracting to another manufacturer, chances are that the profit margin would have been high enough to use "safe" paint. Chances are also that Mattel´s original calculations did not allow for/take into consideration subcontractors. The only thing Mattel seems to be to blame for is that they did not say "stop it" when they found out about subcontracting.

Second, blaming the west is a slap in the face of those Chinese manufacturers who do not subcontract to a subcontractor who in turn subcontracts etc., but carry out an order in accordance to western specifications, full stop. Who do not cheat and use plastic softeners or paint that damages brains and cell tissue. Who deliver quality at a low, albeit decent price.

And third, even a Chinese company can always say "no!". If the margin is too low, if the western manufacturer´s calculation does not leave enough profit without cutting corners: NO!!! There are enough western companies that honor this, and who will try to work out a solution.

But seeing the Chinese manufacturers as being the victims of greedy Manchester.style western world capitalists seems to me like blaming society for letting a murderer become what he is, and setting him free.
 

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QUOTE (Gary @ 23 Sep 2007, 12:17) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>and the fact is Hornby claim to be selling large numbers of Select units and decoders and if they are this suggests that Hornby understand their customers requirements rather better than DCC experts!

Hornby certainly do understand their customer base - you only have to check out their own DCC forum to work out what type of modeller makes up the bulk of their customer base.
 

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Gary - You said:
Hornby now require 4000 Chinese staff to manufacture their models.

Hornby had 600 manufacturing staff in the UK just prior to the move to China.

Hornby turnover has doubled since the move to China so you could argue that it takes 2000 Chinese staff (half of 4000) to produce the models that we see today compared with 600 staff to produce the models of the type Hornby produced 10 years ago.

So the amount of labour required to provide models with great detail is over 3 times what it used to be to produce models with moulded detail. That might give you some idea as to the likely cost of such a model if manufactured in the UK!

****Actually, Hornby only use some of the manufacturing time of Sanda-Kan - and not a particularly large part of it from my understanding. Yes, you are right < :) > however even given the longer time the labour cost is much lower by a considerable amount, and the actual cost of making the locos, from tooling to assembly has therefore also dropped at the same time the detail and quality has improved.

it would be prohibitive to make outside china as they are now - and take much, much more hard investment in tooling and time than the chinese take with their ultra modern gear. Modellers should be happy the move happenned, or the lists would be full of pricing complaints.

Richard

Gary: Re the Select, I can't be bothered with you on this - simple facts have already been covered there ad nauseum. Its was, is and will always be a bad product, no matter what level they are aimed at. Probably explains their quick graduation to 99p ebay sales I suspect.
 

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QUOTE (Gary @ 23 Sep 2007, 11:30) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>So the amount of labour required to provide models with great detail is over 3 times what it used to be to produce models with moulded detail.
That might give you some idea as to the likely cost of such a model if manufactured in the UK!
Hmmm. The sort of Chinese employed to do this will be completely uneducated and unskilled - i.e. not very capable in comparison to those blue-collar British people replaced - and I would imagine that more are required to perform the same set of tasks.

QUOTE It could be argued that the detail on todays Hornby models is greater than that of current Marklin suggesting higher prices than Marklin!
Yes, and the world is flat, the sky is held up by giants and the traction-tyre fairy really exists...oh and Hornby "Select" is so good that the real railway uses it.


QUOTE PS I thought Fleischmann was a big company. Model Rail reports that they have just 360 employees!
Compare that with Hornby keeping 4200 in full time jobs!
Doing a crap job for a subsistance wage and 50 hours a week? I imagine the suicide rate is high, and people ruin their fingers, backs, eyes etc. after a few years...and what is there to look forward to in their old age? Being replaced by the young, no health service, smog and pollution everywhere...a life not worth living in my opinion. Better they hadn't been born and Hornby still manufactured in the UK, to a high standard in an efficient high-tech. factory like Fleischmann. Germany does very well as a huge exporter of sophisiticated mechanical and electrical products - isn't this how to employ people in manufacturing in Europe?

BTW No sane person would pay £160 for UK made models to Hornby's current standards...they would have to improve their products a huge amount in every aspect to be even slightly edible. If they did though people would pay readily, just like they already do all over the rest of Europe. Why is the UK so backward and down-looking in it's modelling aspirations? You can't have a huge DCC equipt layout if the models can't pull a scale length train and look like Fischer-Price...so no wonder those with money spend it elsewhere...there is a whole untapped market in the UK - but certain 'blue-collar' modellers just wouldn't like it if rich people started modelling at a higher level far above them and their toys...even though such a cash injection wouldn't hurt them.

If you can't afford a BMW or Fleischmann then it is natural in the UK to sneer at those who have them - they must obviously be greedy fat cats, or drug dealers or smug civil servants with their fat pensions, or toffs for whom money appears out of thin air, or illegal immigrants who get everything for free...there is obviously no way that normal people could ever aspire to be wealthy and desire the sophisticated...and work damn hard to get it...far easier to grumble and sneer from the rubbish tip.

Goedel
 

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Hornby manufacture model railway accessories under a brand "Skaledale".
Skaledale various products to me are of a high grade manufacture and materials and designs are the best for years.
Prices are for these models very affordable - can I ask the question - which country manufactures the "Skaledale collections"?
 

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Hi Peter - you said:

Some of your points i agree with but i'm afraid others i do take issue with. My criticisms of chinese manufacturing are really on 2 main points. the first is perhaps not relevant to your field of electronics (at least not mainstream) and that is the general level of clenliness in the chinese factories. Many chinese simply dont realise that in order to produce precision items (such as model railway equipment) you have to keep the room clean. i am sure we have both watched the programmes on telly where they show the modern call centre spotlessly clean. i am sure buy your writing that you have been to china on a few occations and will know as i do that this represents a very small part of chinese working culture. often if you go up a floor you will see what its really like.
This is not me making out that chinese factories are slums. but this is a fact that is readily recognized buy the chinese government (who are doing their best to sort out the problem).
As i am sure you are aware, in chinese manufacturing, maintainance of equipment very much takes a back seat. and preventative maintanance practicies that we would concider routine in the west are virtually non existant. Again i accept you are from an electronics backround and so things may well be better in that area.
Also this is not an issue of cost. how much does it cost to tell an employee not to keep spitting on the floor

The second point i take issue with is that in your reply you quoted an examply of a japanese manufacturer that moved production to china. to start with i dont think it is fair to compare an ordinary japanese manufacturer to any other one that has someone breathing down their necks all the time (i would also like to know how the figures you have quoted have changed over time. and not just after the initial move. again as the factory starts to degrade and the building that was put together in a hurry starts to leak and the lack of maintanance kicks in)
I would far rather have a japanese product than a chinese one. because the japanese take pride in their work. generally speaking the chinese dont (my girlfriend being the exception of course!!)
If i buy a japanese model, i know it has been put together carefully, i know it has been properly washed before painting, i know the paint shop was imacculatly clean and i know there is absoloutly no contamination whatsoever in the paint (i am talking about dust and foreign object contamination and not lead) i know it has been handled with care throughout the manufactuing process. i simply cant have that confidence with a chinese manufacturer.

You are from an electronics backround so you may have a different slant on this and i think this may be a case of different industries doing things differently. but i would be astonished if a chinese manufacturer could maintain a high standard without building a new factory about evry 2 years.

My initial thoughts about the lead contamination issue was spin as well. but it wouldnt supprise me in the slightest if it was true. The food stories that the chinese government are passing off as spin are totally believe

Peter

*****
I think you need to sort the wheat from the chaff: There are a zillion little subcontacting companies who certainly are little more than sweatshops and home based businesses, relying on the labour of people who work between seasons and go home for the harvest. There are a LOT of chinese companies that are every bit as professional and "clean" as any in Europe - these are the core of Chinas future, as the low labour cost won't last long - already the wages are starting to rise...

I think the mistake is to wash up all in the mass - there are more highly qualified graduates in many chinese factories than in any in the West.

To Cover a couple of others comments: (especially ME 26-26) Its always the responsibility of the buyer to specify well and to set the parameters. A brand that respects their own products will, no matter where they are, maintain a strong quality approach at each stage - product planning, design, tooling, manufacture and after sales service - this shouldn't vary no matter where it is made.

Therefore, a chinese making it or an EU or US Mfr shouldn't matter it the client also does his part. The Mfr works for himself and part of that is the preservation of business - a buyer works for himself, and his responsibility is to specify properly, minimise cost without compromising quality.

Subcontracting is NOT an issue - if both Mfr and eventual client both specify and then quality check properly, the supply sequence should be unimportant.

Finally: Peter - my last ten years in major corporate life saw me in Asia several times per year - all over. There are good and bad companies in any country if you look for them - east or west!

No, Re Alpine quality didn't slip with time, because the quality control demands from both client and Mfr were manitained - that is all it takes, consistency in requirements and good management!

Yes, I saw many places I'd not deal with, but many that amazed me with their quality in everything from tooling to management professionalism to canteen to shop floor. Personally I don't think the source country is an issue - the management from start to finish of a project - in both client and supplier, are the whole key to quality.

Regards

Richard
 

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Off topic I know.

Re:- Select QUOTE Probably explains their quick graduation to 99p ebay sales I suspect.

That dealer on eBay has gone to the Hornby wholesaler (which I could do also!), picked up a few Hornby Digital trains sets for £60 wholesale, split them up, and is simply selling the contents off seperately with all items starting at 99p. There is a profit to be made and he is making it. Whether it is right or wrong to do this is an entirely seperate argument but he is simply a small time box shifter taking advantage of the fact that Hornby supply to wholesalers.

All his listings start at 99p not just those for Selects. Its not what they start for its what they sell for that matters for that seller and that dealer will be making a profit on every Select sold and every buyer will be a new DCC entrant so its a win win situation for everybody except official Hornby stockists.

I own a Select and as a DCC unit it works for me. And it worked for Doug when we set it up in France although we both agreed the Elite has the more user friendly menu.

Back to the topic.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson)I think you need to sort the wheat from the chaff: There are a zillion little subcontacting companies who certainly are little more than sweatshops and home based businesses, relying on the labour of people who work between seasons and go home for the harvest. There are a LOT of chinese companies that are every bit as professional and "clean" as any in Europe - these are the core of Chinas future, as the low labour cost won't last long - already the wages are starting to rise...

I think the mistake is to wash up all in the mass - there are more highly qualified graduates in many chinese factories than in any in the West.

i actually wasnt refering to tin pot subcontracting companies. many companies have their showrooms (for want of a better term) but look beneeth the veneer.

A lot of clean factories?? where? which is the luckey province? i have travelled china many times and i have to admit there have been a couple, literally just a couple. i think i can count 3 i have been impressed with and that i would concider up to western standards many of them have their posh bit then you find out where the work is really done and my heart sinks.

Peter
 

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Hi Peter

You Said: A lot of clean factories?? where? which is the luckey province? i have travelled china many times and i have to admit there have been a couple, literally just a couple. i think i can count 3 i have been impressed with and that i would concider up to western standards many of them have their posh bit then you find out where the work is really done and my heart sinks.

*** It probably helps that my partner is a Local AU resident very well educated and skilled Chinese (30 yrs, but chinese born and back in China monthly on business) who finds most of the Mfrs I need ahead of my visits - He knows me well enopugh to know that I won't consider dealing with anyone who isn't up to scratch.

As I've said, there are quality sources in every product category, and the key is close specification and insistence on quality standards - consistently, not just on day one.

Good simple example: We are sourcing model people in several scales - (1:24 thru to N scale).

I arranged / prepared the painted samples (multiples as they will use low cost subcontractors) using myself and a couple of top modellers to paint them, and then also created a paint chart of all options and and will accept nothing less than that quality level, and each batch will be compared to my masters. We also offered to provide the paint if needed.... Its hardly a bulk amount :) :)

The added cost isn't insignificant, however the result will still be better than Preiser etc yet still very competitive. AND it will be consistent for as long as we make sure that they are being watched, and that anything below par will not be paid for.

Regards

Richard

PS: What takes you to China so often??
 

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Am I correct in assuming that all factories in China have been sent jigs, tooling and plans from such manufacturers as Hornby, Bachmann and to a certain degree Heljan to name a few.
Asian countries have always been known to copy at a high accuracy other countries products and sell their own (copied) products at a significant reduction in price due to their labour costs being at a minimum wage level.
 

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You asked: "Am I correct in assuming that all factories in China have been sent jigs, tooling and plans from such manufacturers as Hornby, Bachmann and to a certain degree Heljan to name a few"

***Not really - Asian Mfrs aren't just cheap labour - they are very intelligent people.

Possibly some tools may be sent where H etc didn't want to invest for totally new tooling on its taken over stuff and wanted a quick buck for not much added investment, however most Asian Mfg is done on tools 100% created in Asia - usually to a better quality, made faster and to a higher accuracy than the original EU and UK stuff as most of the toolmaking / CAD design stuff and machinery in Asian Mfrs is very much state of the art.

All of Bachmann is Asian made tooling and always has been. The sending of tools is the exception, not the rule, and is only ever a stopgap - as I said at the beginning - better tools can be made more cheaply and faster in Asia.

The same will be true of all brands who make in Asia.

At the most, design specs and some CAD work may possiblyly be transmitted to the Asian Mfr, but they are very capable of doing it from the ground up based on accurate prototpe data, needing only approval checking for the final design stuff from the Brand concerned.

Richard
 

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For all the fuss that is being made if you check out eBay there are thousands of toy items for sale that are either made of lead or are coated with lead paint or would not get past the current trading standards inspectors.

Any clued up toy collector would hoard all the items that are being recalled as in a few years time they will all be extremely collectable!

You could argue that a reasonable parent would not purchase such items from eBay. Given that we have a nanny state society its seems a little odd that the nanny state is actually delegating some responibility for discretion to parents!

And even more odd that eBay is allowed to turn a blind eye to such sales.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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QUOTE (Gary @ 27 Sep 2007, 16:57) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>And even more odd that eBay is allowed to turn a blind eye to such sales.

It's not so much that eBay are allowed to turn a blind eye, as what can be done to make eBay "toe the line" - whatever that line may happen to be !

AFAIK eBay are Swiss owned & therefore again AFAIK not subject to much legislation at all apart from their own.

No matter what your interests, if you look enough you will find lots of examples of double standards.
 
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