Thoughts on Quality – When Cheap is Just Another Kind of Expensive.

The world is full of companies that make a conscious choice to focus on quality and engineering excellence, as opposed to mass producing low cost high quantity commodity goods.  Control Products is no exception.  CPI decided as a fundamental business philosophy decades ago, that we would operate under a few general principles:

  1. Our products would be designed and manufactured in the USA, to insure quality control.
  2. Our products would focus on being world class in performance and durability for their market segment, as opposed to being cheap commodity type solutions
  3. We would place customer service at the very front of our efforts and seek to add value for customers in a unique way with every engagement.

The CPI philosophy has both its challenges and its rewards. For instance unless a client is already familiar with a company’s products, it can sometimes be difficult to sell the quality argument when faced with lower cost competing products whose reps will tell you that they represent “quality” too. In these cases, real quality is not understood until products live in the field for a while and get a good long look at the real world.

The Real Cost Of Low Quality

I had an Aunt who used to say “…cheap is just another kind of expensive”. Nowhere is this truer than in the area of engineered parts and sub-assemblies for outdoor environments. The problem for equipment manufacturers is that it is simply hard to tell the difference between a switch or sensor that will last and one that won’t. Sometimes it’s just easier to buy the cheapest piece that will do the job and hope for the best.

But sometimes, that road leads to expensive in-field failures, often while equipment is still in warranty. The cost and difficulty of replacing these parts instantly becomes a headache manufacturers don’t want.  Not to mention the intangible damage to brand perception that comes when large equipment fails due to small compromises in quality.

At that point of failure is when many manufacturers turn to CPI for help. After the pain of failure, they’re finally ready to fully receive the quality argument. And if it’s a bit more expensive, so be it because dealing with those field failures really really stinks and no one remembers that you saved a few dollars on the switch while putting the entire machine at risk.

The Reliability Road Leads to CPI

Here’s a few examples of how this usually goes down:

  1. A major lawn equipment manufacturer changed to CPI limit switches for mower down detection after a cheap offshore switch failed repeatedly in the wet, high vibration environment of a lawn mower deck.
  2. Neutral Safety Switch on a paving machine changed to use our E1298 and B9111-18’s after Honeywell’s cheaper but non-sealed part failed in application.
  3. Replacement of Sandblaster Handle switches on Clemco Sandblasters after competitor switch was destroyed in the application. (see below)
Broken Limit Switch on Sandblaster Handle

Non-CPI switch broken and deformed in sandblaster handle application

CPI Limit Switch for Sandblaster Handle

CPI E1 series wateproof limit switch assembly (includes cable length mounted at factory)

We have collected hundreds of stories like this over the years, where customers have come to us to meet their quality requirements, after the joy of buying a cheaper part has long receded into memory.

The thing is, next time, why not just come to us in the first place?

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