manufacturing efficiencies v. maintenance costs

My husband is very skilled at many things. Tonight, we were out at our neighborhood pub, visiting with our friends. It is the first day that the neighborhood business was allowed to reopen.

One of our friends, Mike, had been out on the Lake today and was talking about the boat he purchased second-hand, for a great price and in great condition. It was manufactured in 1988. He mentioned that he ended up having to change a relay switch on the Mercury outboard motor.

My interest spiked immediately. I am no mechanic, but my husband is. He wrestled with my Jeep Commander for weeks trying to figure out what the problem was in 2017. He went through the alternator, starter, and whatever else before he found it was a relay switch. Sounds simple to fix after the pain of diagnosing the problem, right? Nope. But what he said this evening struck a chord with me.

He and Mike discussed the troubles in getting to the relay switch to remove and replace. The relay switch cost about $20 at a parts store. It would be way higher if bought from the manufacturing dealership. That is just the part. The labor to have a shop or a dealership would equate to an enormous expense and who knows how long it could take for the work to be completed.

Then my husband said that it took him awhile to understand why the elements of the engine were installed the way they were. He realized it was for the ease of installation during the manufacturing process. In my MBA program, we discuss manufacturing efficiencies and organizational systems for the purpose of the manufacturing processes.

As consumers, we are told our vehicles are made to last several decades or hundreds of thousands miles. We buy for the longevity marketed by the manufacturing brand. The goal of manufacturing efficiencies are not aligned with efficiencies sought by mechanics and individuals who then work on the vehicles, ever after production.

What if.

What if coupled with the longevity, a manufacturer installed the elements of the engine for the purpose of ease in long-term maintenance? What if their purpose was to empower the vehicle owner to have the option to maintain their vehicles on their own? Or to market those efficiencies that would equate to less expense for labor costs that would benefit the consumer and owner of that vehicle?

For me, that would make vehicle buying more satisfying.

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