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Eumabois: choose the original - choose success: reliability, the certainty of performance
trade associations

17 February 2010

Eumabois: choose the original - choose success: reliability, the certainty of performance

The decision of Eumabois – the European federation grouping the leading national Associations representing the manufacturers of machines and accessories for woodworking – to defend original products against low-cost copies is a strong, tangible commitment to make things clear.
The campaign, that will close by the end of this year, revolves around a key concept that - obvious though it may seem - is very bold: “originality” is not an absolute value, a sort of dogma, but rather a goal you can achieve only if you pursue certain objectives, always taking up challenges and accepting to work by excellence and for excellence in all stages of the production process. But most of all, you have to feed this asset with a number of values and concepts that are part of the recipe adopted by any manufacturer willing to offer quality. A recipe based on an accurate and balanced mix of seven ingredients (quality, hi-tech, know-how, reliability, safety, efficiency and experience) to obtain solutions that allow customers to deliver good products, within shorter deadlines, with higher quality and predictable costs.
This is the commitment that European woodworking technology manufacturers have always subscribed to and that, today more than ever, is facing the criminal attack of “copies”. A crime, not just because it violates the rights of tools and technology suppliers who have invested time, experience, human skills and money, but mostly because the use of counterfeited equipment may have serious consequences, apart from inconsistent quality standards over time.
One of the keywords of the European Federation’s campaign “Choose the original - choose success” is exactly “reliability”. This string of letters hides very different and very deep concepts. Substantially, reliability means getting what you are expecting from what you have purchased, from the product you are using. This is a simple, almost banal, description, but it is definitely true: every day, we buy something and we expect specific results, we assume it will provide a specific service. However, it’s not so simple. If you buy a glass, you assume it allows you to drink, but at the same time you expect it to cheer up your table, be convenient to use and be washed in your washing machine. When you buy a car, you need it to drive around, but you also consider design, speed, energy saving, comfort, safety and - why not - someone else’s appreciation of your choice.
Each product generates expectations that manufacturers have to meet. Expectations that customers and users may possibly not express, but that are an integral part of the product itself: if you buy a milling machine or a highly automated line for furniture production, the main purpose of this purchase is clear. But it is also clear that the product you have bought has many more incorporated qualities that are ensured by the credibility (a concept that goes hand in hand with reliability) of its manufacturer. In other words, a “reliable product” is the result of a system that considers effectiveness and efficiency, safety, easy maintenance, installation and use, excellent results, and the best combination of costs and benefits.
Wikipedia – the modern Bible of universal knowledge – provides a definition we can use for our purposes: reliability is “the ability of a system or component to perform its required functions under stated conditions for a specified period of time.
For engineering purposes, reliability is defined as: the probability that a device will perform its intended function during a specified period of time under stated conditions.”
Absolutely perfect! An entrepreneur who buys a machine expects it to perform the task it was purchased for, to carry out certain operations adequately and appropriately, to perform its function for a specified period of time without requiring any intervention.
In recent years, the “reliability theory” has become increasingly popular. Combined with statistics, probability theory, prediction models and a proven set of tests, it allows to develop a “reliability program plan”, i.e. a protocol of tasks that indicate – with good approximation – how reliable a product will be under all points of view. Maybe, not everybody knows that today there are experts in this field, called “reliability engineering”, whose function is to develop the reliability requirements for the product and perform appropriate analyses and tasks to check and ensure the product will meet such requirements. This discipline is making its way also into the woodworking technology business, closely associated with maintainability engineering, logistics engineering and safety engineering.
It’s now a few years since these domains have no longer been associated with experience only, with the “handicraft know-how” that represents the roots and origins of many European manufacturers. Today, investments are required to design, study and analyze all these aspects. There are design, simulation, testing and “lifetime” prediction systems that require significant investments which are made only by those manufacturers who believe in their work. That’s why they develop a unique intellectual property that flows into each action, each decision and each item that leaves their factories.