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What has happened to Hornby Quality control ?
I purchased one of the new Hornby City of Sheffield and was delighted with the new sound concept, so much so I bought another ( to swap the body with a Duchess) After giving it a run and starting to fit the "accessories" I noticed there were moulding marks on the tender which had been sprayed over.
For an item costing nearly £200 I thought this is not on and spoke to Hornby asking if they could send out just the tender top. "We do not have spares and you will need to send it back to the retailer for exchange." So at my cost I reluctantly sent it back, the retailer was supportive and turned it round in a day. The new one arrived , I unpacked it got ready to set up the address etc. and this too is faulty, the wheels keep locking and I just cannot fathom it out. After studying it for 10 mins it has me beat so yet again at my expense I have now have to send it back to the retailer. This is the 3rd Hornby Loco in a row that has been faulty and at these prices it is just not acceptable. A friend of mine has had similar problems with a brand new Q1 out of the box with a short circuit which did the decoder in as well. It really is not good enough, if these things cost £20 I could accept the odd fault but they are no longer " toys" and need pre- testing to ensure they work. I have heard "rumours" that Hornby are now coming out of the same factory as Bachmann and am wondering, if this is true is it a good move.
Am I just unlucky or is it more widespread?
 

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QUOTE (stmartins @ 26 Feb 2009, 10:41) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have heard "rumours" that Hornby are now coming out of the same factory as Bachmann and am wondering, if this is true is it a good move.
Am I just unlucky or is it more widespread?

AFAIK the factory that H is made is owned by the parent company of B.

I would hope that any retailer would gladly refund purchasers expenses for returned faulty goods (as required by the sale of goods act anyway) & then recharge the supplier in turn, irrespective of the make.
 

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If an item is faulty it is up to the retailer to pay reasonable costs to return it.
Hornby, Aster and Bachmann and maybe other brands are made in the same factory and have been for several years now. What changed was that Kader, Bachmanns parent company, bought the failing Sanda Kan company which owned the factory.
 

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You asked "Am I just unlucky or is it more widespread?"

This is my first post but this is a subject very dear to my heart. Of my last 6 Hornby purchases all 6 had faults. All were swapped by my local retailers. For the moment I won't buy any Hornby loco's via the internet. I fear that I am not alone and you are not unlucky.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You asked "Am I just unlucky or is it more widespread?"

This is my first post but this is a subject very dear to my heart. Of my last 6 Hornby purchases all 6 had faults. All were swapped by my local retailers. For the moment I won't buy any Hornby loco's via the internet. I fear that I am not alone and you are not unlucky.
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Thanks Blue Sky for your honest reply, regretfully I do not have a local retailer the nearest being 20 miles away which is still a long run if its faulty & around £6 in fuel both ways.I think unless I see to the contrary I too will not be buying any more Hornby locos even though I love their models.
 

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*** Ummmm no

Hornby and several other brands were made by Sanda-kan, and still are
Bachmann and several other brands are made by Kader industrial, and still are
they are totally different factories in different places and are still totally independant on policy, people and machinery.

Hornby and bachmann have never come out of the same factory and probably never will.

What happenned is Kader holdings which is a very solid old money HK company bought / rescued Sanda Kan who were drowning in debt due to being cash gutted by a US mercant bank. A good thing for all concerned. They will continue to be separate in all things, Kader are not silly.

If faulty goods are being shipped ex Sanda Kan or Hornby its down to Hornbys product management strength or weakness - good quality needs a good Mfg quality control specification and good pre-shipping acceptance procedures, plus post reciept/pre-sale quality checks.

The factories can produce perfect every time if they are told to - and paid appropriately.

Regards

Richard

QUOTE (poliss @ 26 Feb 2009, 20:19) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>If an item is faulty it is up to the retailer to pay reasonable costs to return it.
Hornby, Aster and Bachmann and maybe other brands are made in the same factory and have been for several years now. What changed was that Kader, Bachmanns parent company, bought the failing Sanda Kan company which owned the factory.
 

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Now that Hornby has outsourced all their manufacturing to China, they like all the other companies that manufacture offshore, are faced with a much longer supply chain that they ever had when everything was made in the UK. If Hornby now QC product once it arrives at Margate, the chances are that the whole of the production run for a particular item arrives at the same time, making it too late to spot problems and rectify them whilst the product is still in production. Also it would be very expensive to ship the whole lot back to china for re-QC'ing and rectification, not to speak of the loss of sales whilst the product was shuttling back and forwards in containers.

So the temptation must be to let the product go out to retailers and then deal with problems when they arise. That's fine when problems are few and far between, but is a high risk strategy which could destroy any reputation for high quality models very quickly if quality prolems become more widespread.

I do wonder if the recent problems with the T9, (nice model shame about the pulling power and tender assembly), were caused by one or two operators in China consistently making up items incorrectly which was not spotted at the time by Sanda Kan's own QC people.

Also we may well be talking about models that were being made whist Sanda Kan was in the midst of its recent financial troubles. So who knows if Sanda Kan were cutting corners to save costs, or had dropped their QC standards to save money, or if their staff were just demoralised and were producing "Friday Cars", (to use an old term for the troubled output from British Leyland's UK car plants), on the rest of the week.

The only way to combat that is for Hornby to embed their own QC people into Sanda Kan management out in China with the power to "stop the line" if problems are found. However the modern "partnership" method of working tries to eliminate such "duplication", and problems with confidentiality and meeting other custimers' delivery schedules if Hornby were to "stop the line" may make that impossible.

Does anyone know if Hornby do have their own QC people out in Sanda Kan's factories? My belief is that they do not, or these sorts of problems wouldn't arise. Otherwise the shortcomings in Hornby's own QC team are damaging its reputation.

I never had any problems with any model that came out of Margate in the 1960s. Was this my good luck, a reflection on the simpler and more robust state of the models in those days, or better and more integrated QC which detected and reacted faster to problems?

Keith.
 

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*** Hard to lay the blame for the T9 error when hornbys own service sheet also showed the tender sideframes swapped left for right - showing that the model was misunderstood at the source (and why would they be expected to know which way they go on an obscure english prototype loco if they have not been told) and these service sheets, like pre-production samples, would have required a sign off from hornby.

So... if the service sheet, which is made up from other drawings that are part of the product evolution within china was wrong, then the manufacturing brief was wrong too so every one produced wrongly would have effectively been "to spec" as far as the factory is concerned - and any remedy would be at Hornbys cost... as this parallel error clearly shows that it was the product spec that was inadequate or wrongly approved by someone at H.

Its my experience that with a skilled Mfr like Sanda Kan (and they really are a very competently managed and careful company) you get what you ask and pay for in Mfg no matter where it is done. Manufacturers want clean business with no comebacks to eat up profits so they do their best and will respond to a clear set of standards and a clear brief with precise results. Faults usually come back to the source, not the processor of the order.

Richard
 

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Thank you for the expert view. It is really helpful.

To some extent your view appears to coincide with that Ben Jones at Model Rail. His headline was "Right first time?" It then carried a sub-line of "Elementary errors can seriously damage your company's health".

From what is being reported the fault could be at the source. Quoting the editorial "models that reach the public in unsatisfactory condition damage the reputation of the manufacturer".

I suggest those that are interested in the demise of Hornby QC should buy Model Rail and read the article.
 

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I bought a Hornby Duchess of Sheffield fairly soon after it came out. The general standard of the model was also good and I like the fixed rear frames under the firebox.

However, when I put it on a rolling road for a try out the running was poor and it thumped up and down. On closer inspection I found that the centre driving wheel on the right hand side was either eccentric on the axle or the axle was bent. Very disappointing as this was my first steam model with sound. I took it back to my local shop, Roxley Models in Great Bookham, who replaced it straight away. Full marks to Simon and Colin in Roxley Models.

The replacement was great and I've had lots of fun with the sound. I spent some time increasing the acceleration and decreasing the decceleration rates to get a more appropriate response for a large locomotive and turned the volume down to avoid some distortion from the speaker. I am now very pleased with the sound (apart from the air compressor), especially as various sources had expressed doubts about the sound. Learning to drive it to get the ringing of the connecting rods was an early trick to learn.

I'm now browsing websites at SWD, Olivia's and Howes for sound decoders. The LNWR G2A Super D ESU Loksound decoder in Howes is looking favourite (thinking of Buxton (9D) in the 1960's)....
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 26 Feb 2009, 14:03) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Its my experience that with a skilled Mfr like Sanda Kan (and they really are a very competently managed and careful company) you get what you ask and pay for in Mfg no matter where it is done. Manufacturers want clean business with no comebacks to eat up profits so they do their best and will respond to a clear set of standards and a clear brief with precise results. Faults usually come back to the source, not the processor of the order.....
Not possessing a copy of the service diagrams I can't comment on whether it was Hornby or Sanda Kan who got the tender the wrong way round in the first place and who perpetuated the drawing error, but it wasn't Hornby employees who assembled the model.

I am sure that Sanda Kan has had a good reputation, but last year Hornby were having a lot of problems with missed delivery dates with product made by Sanda Kan. I don't know whose fault that was and I've not seen any comments identfying the cause of those problems. Of course Sanda Kan do make product for others which further complicates matters. However, Sanda Kan nearly went broke at the end of last year and had to be saved by Kader. Companies that are "very competently managed and careful" don't normally have to be rescued. Ever heard of RBS and it's record loss announced today? When a company is in trouble, and I've worked for some in my time, they can do silly things in the interests of short term survival on the grounds that if you don't survive in the short term then there is no long term. Reducing QC standards might have been one of those, but i nthe absence of firm facts this is supposition on my part. Remember, when you're up to your backside in crocodiles you forget that your original reason for going in to the swamp was to drain it to get rid of the mosquitoes.

Let us hope that together Hornby and Sanda Kan/Kader can together rebuild the reputation of the Hornby range, as I don't think many people would want to see Hornby fail.

Keith.
 

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This, along with other horror stories, is one of the reasons why I am very reluctant to tread further into railway modelling. I have only one engine, which I bought many years ago at Peco - it came in a set, I opened the box, put things together, and then it ran. That was it. The kids weren't interested, I had other interests, so the thing has hardly been used - and now I'd like to 'get stuck in'.

As I would have to use mail order - to France - the prospect of getting these non-runners, engines with bits broken off, inability to pull skin off rice-pudding etc. has totally put me off. Now the voltage where I live often drops below 220V at times, the transformer makes a lot of noise - the idea would be to buy a set and get lots more gear at once - but imagine the thrill of sending it all back again!

I must admit, though, I do admire the patience of those who perservere, and am still considering - when my birthday comes round.....
 

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My honest impression is that Hornby doesn't have any quality control. Some of the models I have bought have clearly never been looked at prior to purchase. My take on it is that they cut costs by not bothering. As was said earlier there is nothing wrong with the manufacturers as some high quality models are made in the same factories. Trouble is; are we prepared to cop a price increase to factor in quality control? I suspect most modellers wouldn't.
 

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QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 26 Feb 2009, 21:48) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>My honest impression is that Hornby doesn't have any quality control. Some of the models I have bought have clearly never been looked at prior to purchase. My take on it is that they cut costs by not bothering. As was said earlier there is nothing wrong with the manufacturers as some high quality models are made in the same factories. Trouble is; are we prepared to cop a price increase to factor in quality control? I suspect most modellers wouldn't.
The question is who is responsible for monitoring the quality of the products as they come off the end of the production line in the Sanda Kan factories in China. Sanda Kan themselves, or Hornby staff on site, or no one. I don't understand how can you say there's nothing wrong with the manufacturers when its Sanda Kan employees who actually make Hornby products, not Hornby staff. Think about what you've just said i.e. Sanda Kan make high quality models for everyone but Hornby where the quality of what they make and assemble is to a lower standard. That would mean that Sanda Kan drop their standards for Hornby or raise them for every one else. That sounds highly unlikely to me unless Hornby products are made on different lines to everyone else or is a different factory, or to make them to the agreed price with Hornby that neither Sanda Kan nor Hornby staff QC them as they come off the line. It's too late to apply QC in Margate, the product's made, fully finished, boxed and Hornby will have incurred the shipping cost. QC has got to be done in real time at the end of the production line in China.

If the products contain manufacturing defects, and I'm not disputing that, then QC is inadequate, the question as I said before is who is responsible on the ground in China for QC, Sanda Kan, Hornby, or no one.

If you're saying that the problems are design faults that is a different matter, but I don't think, apart from the T9 tender that's what people are saying.

Keith.
 

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What I've said Keith, is pretty clear. If you want quality control, you have to pay more to employ staff to do that. It would appear that Hornby aren't excercising or prepared to pay for this option. I am not the only person who takes this view

QUOTE If faulty goods are being shipped ex Sanda Kan or Hornby its down to Hornbys product management strength or weakness - good quality needs a good Mfg quality control specification and good pre-shipping acceptance procedures, plus post reciept/pre-sale quality checks.

The factories can produce perfect every time if they are told to - and paid appropriately.
 

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I live in Canada so a large portion of my purchases are done by mail order. Thus returning a defective product is both difficult and expensive. The comments on this forum together with my own observations on two recent A3's is making me reluctant to purchase any more high ticket Hornby items. On my friends A3 the tender brake gear was broken off on one side (poor packaging?) and the metal tire was off on the caretsi wheel. On my A3 the metal tire was off on one of the front bogie wheels. I am reasonably mechanically minded and have some tools so I was able to fix both locos. However one has to wonder if the next problem may be terminal
 

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*** Hi Keith

I know the Asian companies involved and the processes quite intimately. I have been involved is sourcing tooled and manufactured product out of Asia (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China) on and off for 30+ years.... everything from high end audio design and manufacture thru industrial items to models.

Re the serrvice diagrammes, they are posted on Hornbys website and are therefore "appproved" by Hornby which is the point. They had to have been passed from Sanda-Kan to Hornby to the web company to post online. Clearly nobody even looked at something that by any standards, is a document that needs formal approval to exist. If they had, alarm bells would have rung - and perhaps the problem would never have hit the street!

The factory designs a model based on information provided. They wouldn't know one end of a T9 from the other - they simply do as asked based on data ex the client.

At various stages, each step of the planning is reconfirmed before taking any firm step which will add to cost - ie, basic design work on computer confirmed before tooling commenced, tools checked by test shots before production commences, assembly checked by signing off for assembly quality, finish and performance, and any paperwork and packaging for accuracy prior to finalising and printing. A QC requirement should then be confirmed by the client before ANY parts are assembled.

EVERY step is (has to be or nothing will happen) signed off by someone and that sign off indicates acceptance, and at the same time is the go ahead to produce.

NO item is ever produced without the client having approved it specifically - never ever.

After and during production, the manufacturer has also to follow whatever added quality checks have been stipulated and paid for. After completion, a wise manufacturer also institutes a pre-shipment check of each item to assure nothing slips through.

Each of these manufacture related checks is a cost and some Mfrs choose to skip one or all of them to lower cost.

*** Re Sanda Kans financial problems, they were not from Sanda Kans management - and nothing at all to do with their manufacturing ability. The company had been bought by a US company which had cash stripped them - that US company was also one of the eraly US economic casualties. Blaming them for this is the same as blaming a soldier for not winning when he has no bullets to fight with!

Nobody wants to see such things happen - its bad for all, from us as modellers to the shop to hornby and its staff to the staff on the production line - every error has huge contingent cost that directly hits everyone one way or another...

***You mention production delays in another post.

Don't always simply accept that delays are the Mfrs side - its always what is blamed but often, models are consciously delayed as clent cashflow is tight/inventry is higher than expected or more commonly, pre-orders are not yet to break even point for the model.

This is the point of no return for most who commission newly tooled product and it is only at that point when the huge cost of tooling gets the "go" and payment will be sent to the Mfr to go ahead.

Of course no Mfr is ever going to say "its late as its slower selling than we planned" so they usually find an easy to palate reason for public comment.

Anyway... enough rambling: Re the quality thing, I think it is a huccup and no more - Hornby is a generally well run company so will in the end look to the brand integrity shareholder value and make sure that image is mantained, and any "cracks in procedures" are properly fixed.

Usually after such a set of problems there is a quiet internal wake up call / shake up somewhere and things are soon back on track... and as Hornby have already acknowledged some of the problems I have no doubt this will be the case this time.

Richard

QUOTE (GoingUnderground @ 27 Feb 2009, 03:30) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Not possessing a copy of the service diagrams I can't comment on whether it was Hornby or Sanda Kan who got the tender the wrong way round in the first place and who perpetuated the drawing error, but it wasn't Hornby employees who assembled the model.

I am sure that Sanda Kan has had a good reputation, but last year Hornby were having a lot of problems with missed delivery dates with product made by Sanda Kan. I don't know whose fault that was and I've not seen any comments identfying the cause of those problems. Of course Sanda Kan do make product for others which further complicates matters. However, Sanda Kan nearly went broke at the end of last year and had to be saved by Kader. Companies that are "very competently managed and careful" don't normally have to be rescued. Ever heard of RBS and it's record loss announced today? When a company is in trouble, and I've worked for some in my time, they can do silly things in the interests of short term survival on the grounds that if you don't survive in the short term then there is no long term. Reducing QC standards might have been one of those, but i nthe absence of firm facts this is supposition on my part. Remember, when you're up to your backside in crocodiles you forget that your original reason for going in to the swamp was to drain it to get rid of the mosquitoes.

Let us hope that together Hornby and Sanda Kan/Kader can together rebuild the reputation of the Hornby range, as I don't think many people would want to see Hornby fail.

Keith.
 

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There have been some very spirited, and lengthy, defences for Sanda Kan in this thread. But remember it is Sanda Kan who physically make the product, and barring design faults which I accept might be the root cause, it is their production processes that are producing defective products. If those processes were perfect there would be nothing for QC to find and reject. QC can only weed out product defects introduced during the manufacturing process. The apparent lack of effective QC over Hornby branded products, whether it's Sanda Kan not applying it when they should be, or Hornby not prepared to pay for it, is the issue.

I have seen from the inside of companies in financial trouble the deep impact it has on their operations. Running out of cash, no matter where it has gone or why, has an effect on the whole company not just the Finance/Treasury functions, and it will go into survival mode which means conserving cash at all costs, which means reducing unnecessary costs as far as possible, and sometimes beyond. I think recent posts on this forum about Maerklin cancelling some of their 2009 releases amply demonstrate that. At the back end of last year many toy companies were going out of business in China, and survival would have been uppermost in the minds of the management of the remainder. I would be very surprised if Sanda Kan was the exception given its financial problems.

I have also seen from the inside what happens when a company outsources the core of its functions. It is left with very few options if problems arise in its primary suppliers, and normally has no option but to grin and bear it in the hope that matters improve in the meantime. That seems to me to be what Hornby have done, keep quiet and hope.

There have been instances of Hornby models turning up with wires soldered to the wrong places on the PCBs. That is a training issue or pressure on line operatives to speed up production resulting in errors of commission. Both of those are Sanda Kan's area of responsibility. A total quality management scheme as has been described in ths thread only works if when errors are found the lessons are learnt and steps taken to prevent or at least minimise the possibilities of a repetition.

I said some months ago when the problems with the T9 first surfaced that I wouldn't be surprised if there were more QC issues in the pipeline, and it looks like I was right.

I think we all agree that the place for QC is in China, not Margate. The question is why does it seem to be failing for Hornby products only? Is it temporary and relates back to product produced at the back end of last year as I suspect (which may have affected Sanda Kan's other customers but not be visible to the consumer if others had tighter QC than Hornby), or is it more deep seated and relates solely to the underlying contractual relationship between Hornby and Sanda Kan and ultimately price as others in this thread believe.

You pays your money and you takes your choice.
 

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Sanda Kan is now owned by Bachmann? Or the Bachmann parent company?

If that's the case, Hornby should move production elsewhere before they lose their reputation and market. It won't worry Sanda Kan one bit whether they put Hornby or Bachmann on the boxes, although the group may just have a preference for the latter. The OO scale market doesn't look like collapsing just yet, but common sense suggests that Hornby are in some danger.
 
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