This is the 12th in a series of articles written by motorhome manufacturers that address the subject of quality control. Recently, FMCA commercial members involved in the production of type A, type B, and type C motorhomes were invited to describe the quality-control strategies they have in place at their manufacturing facilities.
Every step leading up to the completion of a luxurious Blue Bird Wanderlodge motorhome is vital. A quality motorhome isn’t made by accident. Wanderlodge prides itself in using seamless quality control measures. From the moment the order is placed to the day before delivery, the Wanderlodge team is scrutinizing the vehicle to ensure it meets company standards.
Wanderlodge follows the “Right the First Time” philosophy. This may seem like a lofty goal, but the company’s many years of experience in the motor coach industry provides it with the expertise required to get the job done right at the outset.
Blue Bird uses stringent product quality measurement systems throughout its manufacturing process. All motor coaches are manufactured under one roof, which allows for quality checks at any time and from any production area.
Blue Bird’s employees are empowered to ensure that all products in their areas of responsibility are manufactured with the highest quality. They share many years of knowledge about recreation vehicle manufacturing, and have the technical skills and backgrounds needed to see that the customer’s expectations are not just met but exceeded.
Blue Bird also follows formally written procedures that are supported with a quality manual working to meet the ISO 9001:2000 standards. This quality management system Blue Bird adheres to guarantees that all processes meet the organization’s goals, ensuring the continuous production of high-quality luxury motor coaches.
The Blue Bird quality inspector closely supervises all manufacturing processes. A system of “buy-offs” are put in place, which validate that all processes are completed correctly. The coaches are then submitted for a Quality Audit.
The Quality Audit is a rigorous test of the functions of the various components in the vehicle, including under-hood inspection, braking and steering tests, and mechanical functionality checks. A full internal inspection is then performed to confirm that all appliances and utilities are working, all controls in the ergonomically advanced driver’s area are operating, and all furnishings meet the customer’s specifications. A detailed external paint critique follows the internal inspection.
Quality control designers scrutinize every inch of the motor coach. Any faults found during these quality audits are classified against preset quality levels. Demerit scores are attributed and later evaluated by the quality inspector.
After the final inspection, any necessary changes or modifications are made to the coach.
After each Wanderlodge product has been through the inspection, internal groups meet for final product assessments. From these team meetings come actions, which may result in process, part, or design changes to enhance and perfect the quality of the finished product.
There is no better way to test and evaluate a product than by taking it for a demonstration. Demo tests allow the product engineers, manufacturers, and managers to understand firsthand what customers experience. Through this testing, employees personally know what, if any, improvements need to be considered. If necessary, improvements are then introduced through running changes, at a model year change, or with the introduction of new models.
With Blue Bird, no product is delivered to the customer until every detail has been checked and rechecked. Each vehicle must meet stringent qualifications before delivery.
Finally, the coach is detailed and then released for delivery to a dealer. Blue Bird Wanderlodge relies on its strong dealer relationships, and dealers know these coaches inside and out. They also provide professional input and guidance to the customers and to Blue Bird.
But Blue Bird doesn’t close the door once the customer takes delivery. In fact, the relationship has just begun. To ensure the safety of the customers and others on the road, Blue Bird offers ownership training at its Fort Valley, Georgia, facility and through the dealer network. During this training, the customer is educated about all of the features on the vehicle. This personal attention ensures that every Wanderlodge owner is well-equipped with the knowledge they need to operate their new vehicle.
This step-by-step training program guarantees the customer has safety instructions and is confident about operating the vehicle. This is all a part of Blue Bird Wanderlodge’s mission: “Provide customers with quality products and services.”
Blue Bird’s top priority is customer satisfaction. Customer feedback is essential for continuous product improvement. Blue Bird owners can easily communicate with company representatives while staying at the “Bird’s Nest,” located at Blue Bird headquarters in Fort Valley. This RV park is a favorite stopping point for many Blue Bird owners. There they can visit, relax, or share any ideas for improvement with Blue Bird personnel.
Continuous improvement, quality checks, and dealer input complement customer feedback. An example of this is the latest Wanderlodge product, the all-new M380. The 38-foot production coach comes with several design packages and an appealing price. The design of the M380 was a direct result of customer input, and engineers have incorporated many suggestions made by Blue Bird’s loyal owners. As with all Wanderlodge vehicles, the M380 will maintain the company’s high-quality standard and impeccable attention to detail.
Blue Bird Corporation continues to set industry standards with its innovative design and manufacturing of school buses, commercial buses, and Wanderlodge motor coaches. Founded in 1927, Blue Bird has nearly 3,000 employees and four plants in two countries. Blue Bird has an extensive network of dealers and service parts facilities across the country. For more information about the company, call (800) 486-7122 or visit www.blue-bird.com