In this article from Colin of the Caravan Council of Australia, he has a look at the issue of compliance and quality assurance when it comes to Caravan and RV manufacturers in Australia.
The legal requirements for manufacturers of caravans and camper-trailers for ensuring full Compliance and high Quality, are exactly the same as those for motor vehicles… aren’t they???
Well, if chalk and cheese – and day and night – are exactly the same, then the answer is “yes”.
However, they are not the same… no where near it! That is the major reason why caravans and camper-trailers have so many problems… and why owners have so many complaints.
Manufacturers of motor vehicles must have Approval from VSS (Vehicle Safety Standards) in Canberra to affix Compliance Plates to their vehicles. This is not a simple process. Before a motor vehicle model can be offered for sale in Australia, detailed credible documentation, proving that it complies with all applicable ADR’s (Australian Design Rules), must be submitted to VSS for examination.
If the documentation is accepted as demonstrating full compliance, a comprehensive SUTI (Single Uniform Type Inspection) is conducted on a production vehicle, to confirm that the vehicle’s ADR-related components do accurately match the documentation supplied. Approval is then granted to affix Compliance Plates to all vehicles of that specific model.
To be confident that no changes have been made, and that compliance continues, CoP (Conformity of Production) random audits are regularly conducted by VSS personnel.
Compliance: Manufacturers of caravans (and camper-trailers) can simply affix Trailer Plates to their vehicles… via the accepted scheme of “Self-Certification”.
Quality: Manufacturers of motor vehicles are legally required to have a professional QSD (Quality System Documentation) program in place.
Quality: Manufacturers of caravans (and camper-trailers) have no such legal requirement.
Q-A Quality Assurance
The Aim of any Q-A (Quality Assurance) is to:
• Best-ensure that all production products are fully “fit for the intended purpose”, and comply with all applicable Laws and Standards, and with recognised engineering practices.
The Purpose of a Q-A program is to:
• Assist the company in providing products and services of the highest quality
• Ensure compliance with all applicable legal regulations, such as, for caravans, VSB1 and the ADR’s
• Help protect against litigation and recalls, by ensuring the company is not negligent.
The Intent of a Q-A program is to:
• “Do things right the first time”, and have a zero-defects target.
Some Q-A programs aim to guarantee that all production units are exactly the same as the “master sample”.
This is fine… unless the “sample” has unknown “defects”, in which case all production units will have the identical short-comings!
It is of fundamental importance that the Manufacturer displays a meaningful Quality Policy statement, that all employees are fully acquainted with.
The key elements of a Quality-Assurance program relate to:
• Technical Drawings
• Work Instructions
• Specifications & Tolerances
• ADR / VSB1 Component Inspections
• Reliability & maintenance
• Quality planning & process-control plans
• Stage – and Final – Inspection Check-Lists
• Skills & ability
• Education & training
• Responsibility & involvement
For Caravan (and Camper-Trailer) Manufacturers, the four most-essential items for Compliance & Quality confidence are:
• Need to be neat professional CAD illustrations, clearly showing – with dimensions – where all components are to be located
• Need to be provided for each basic operation, and not be cumbersome in an attempt to cover numerous operations
• Accurate and durable templates need to be used for critical operations
• Perspective (3-D) drawings can greatly assist in enabling operators to clearly visualise the “overall picture” of an operation
• Need to be neat professional guide-lines, clearly showing – in numbered step points – how the particular manufacturing or assembling
operation is to be carried out, in a safe and correct manner
• Need to be used (where applicable) in conjunction with the relevant Work Instruction
VSB1 Components Inspection:
• While all in-coming components need to be inspected, prior to being released for production, special attention must be paid to all
components that are subject to VSB1 legal regulations, to ensure that they are fully-compliant, and that no changes have been made
• Stage – Need to be a number of professional – YES / NO numbered – List of major “stage” operations, so that any fault can be detected, and
rectified, without it passing through the entire manufacturing process, thus causing a difficult and interrupting rectification
• Final – Needs to be a comprehensive professional – YES / NO numbered – List covering all Compliance, Equipment functions, and Quality items
This should form the basis of a Pre-Delivery Inspection Check-List for a Dealer to complete, prior to handing-over the caravan to a Customer
It is vital that all Drawings, Work Instructions and Check-Lists:
• Have the latest Master Copy filed, with an Index, in the Quality-Control folder
• Are up-to-date, approved, signed and dated – only – by the Production Manager / Engineer
• Are protected by being laminated inside plastic sheets
• Do not have any “notes” scribbled on them
• Have all obsolete copies collected and removed from the manufacturing area
• Have all VSB1-related issues high-lighted, to ensure continued compliance
• Are clear and unambiguous, and are presented in a plain key-point format
The documents must be sufficient to enable any – suitably trained – (stand-in) operator to be able to under-take and complete a particular manufacturing
or assembling operation without having to “guess” about “how or what should I do next”?
This especially applies to operations – where all caravans “need to be made exactly the same”, such as:
• Drilling holes and forming cut-outs in the body
• Positioning lamps and reflectors
• Lay-out of wiring, tubing and fittings
Using professional Check-Lists will greatly assist in ensuring that every Customer will receive a fully-compliant and high-quality Caravan!
Below are some check lists that you can download and read more about the subject of compliance.
Original article provided courtesy of the CCA – www.caravancouncil.com.au – The CAA is a completely independent, non-profit, non-commercial body that provides free no-obligation compliance and technical advice to all manufacturers, importers, dealers, mechanics, owners and potential buyers of recreational vehicles.