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A.S.
25-02-2006, 02:45 PM
"One issue after another keeps catching us. No sooner do we sit to relax after fixing one issue we get another one! We seem to be in a constant fire-fighting mode. We are always/mostly in a reactive mode rather than a proactive one." (quote from an example of running a business pre-ISO9001).

As you may known we were granted IS09001 certification last year. Certification involves establishing, maintaining and developing internal procedures.

What is ISO9001 all about?

http://www.iso.org/iso/en/iso9000-14000/explore/9001supchain.html

http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:neIlavJ0nAAJ:www.tcea.org.uk/Documents/TCEAISO9001-2000.ppt+what+does+IS)9001+do+for+my+business%3F&hl=en&gl=uk&ct=clnk&cd=3&client=firefox-a (http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:neIlavJ0nAAJ:www.tcea.org.uk/Documents/TCEAISO9001-2000.ppt+what+does+IS%299001+do+for+my+business%3F&hl=en&gl=uk&ct=clnk&cd=3&client=firefox-a)

Our sales order system is not processing orders as 'first come, first served' due to our overriding desire to be helpful and supportive. We have been guilty of taking onboard orders with impossibly short and unrealistic lead-times. This results in cash needlessly tied up in stock brought in too early, stress on staff who felt pressurised into working overtime, and time robbed from development and long range R&D.

Since 1991 we have used the same MPR system which completely manages the explosion of piece parts needed to turn sales orders into finished, packed sellable speakers. It is programmed with timescales and it knows exactly how much stock we have. It holds Bills of Material of the typically 60 lines of individual stock coded parts need for each speaker.

MPR tells us that on average since 1991, our lead-time from order in to speakers out is about 12 weeks. We order cabinets as and when we need them, plus a very small safety margin for damage or other unforeseen problems.

The ISO team have observed in Harbeth the global trend for Retailers and Distributors to push stockholding back up the chain to the manufacturer. The recent inspection has made it mandatory for us to redefine our role in the supply chain. In short, we at Harbeth UK are solely responsible for development and manufacturing.

Last week we turned the MRP system back to 'auto' mode and rescheduled production in line with our best calculation of actual production capacity. In the short/medium term we can not increase capacity, nor rush into employing more staff: we must retain QC standards as demanded by ISO9001. We are convinced that 'MRP on auto' is far more believable and reliable than 'Harbeth on manual'.

The reschedule has been sent in a simple graphical calendar format to all Distributors and has been revised three times in the past week as new orders have arrived and we have fine tuned the manufacturing cycle. We are at 100% production capacity until 3 July 2006; we have at least 16 weeks of orders in hand - and it is growing.

If your dealer or Distributor has orders in the pipeline, this will ensure deliveries to you as soon as the plan allows. That's the plus side. Second, if orders are not already logged with us, they will not be completed before July .... and that 16 weeks pipeline rolls forward daily. We have to demonstrate to the ISO inspectors that we are following their system to the letter.

It is a tribute to the great success of the Harbeth sound and the Harbeth sales network that at a time when the industry is in the doldrums we have a strong order book. But it is no surprise to us at Harbeth UK - we've been nursing this growing baby for years. All we can do is get on with managing our 1000 stock lines into the production of wonderful speakers for hungry customers.

Mank
26-02-2006, 02:10 PM
So, Dear Alan,
My first and last question/remark on this increasing "HHH", which is High(ening) Harbeth Hunger, is if you will manage to have and forever keep the same quality standards. You yourself have commented in the past that you carry (by character and belief I interprete) the small scale qualitative approach as to designing-manufacturing-supplying of your goods. We bought this with our speakers. It is True. We adore it. We intend to pass this thoughtful approach to our children when choosing in the future. Ideally, there is no way back. No offend for big houses, like B & W etc.
But when (not if-just when) Harbeth will vastly increase in size, its your personal responsibility to teach your people to keep doing precisely the same... We don't ask for assurements. You'll get high, very high I think, but -please- stay the same. Just find a way to overcome growth without a single compromise. It is a deep wish, as well as certain expectation, and comes out naturally when everyone sees you standing on the side of each and everybody of your customers (=fans, people,mates). Carry on, in perfect health and spiritual freshness!
Best- best wishes for this,
Thanos

A.S.
27-02-2006, 12:30 PM
With effect from this morning, we are now sold out until 4 August 2006.

Frihed89
27-02-2006, 08:13 PM
Were you also reluctant to expand production capacity until you get more information about consumer demand (to reduce the risk of a mistake in projecting too high demand)?

Not increasing capacity also has risks as you will find out, but presumably you also looked at these "regrets" before you decided not to expand.

Your dealers could increase their prices in the short-run, while the main competition (Spendor, Proac?) could reduce their prices until August.

A.S.
27-02-2006, 08:43 PM
Were you also reluctant to expand production capacity until you get more information about consumer demand ......
It's not really matter of having choice. Time after time we have proved that you just can not take people 'off the street' and expect them to eat, sleep and think the way we do at Harbeth. It's not even a matter of training (although there is precious little time available to do that) ... it's an attitude of mind we're looking for in any new recruits. Sadly the dross we've seen turn up (or more accurately not turn up) for interview are completely unsuitable.

As for competitors well, we here are in a very particular niche. Experience has shown that if you fall for the Harbeth midband (RADIAL cone) you are not going to wander off to another brand and if you do, like the Mounties say 'we'll get you in the end'. When you invest in Harbeth it is usually your final speaker purchase, so a few months waiting really isn't an issue is it?

Frihed89
27-02-2006, 08:57 PM
is the best way to learn about supply chain performance.

If your biggest constraint to expanding production is on the labour input/training side then you may count yourself luckier than those who face capital constraints and need to purchase new plant and equipment.

You know, dealers and distributors have a tendency to "hoard" and over-order, right after shortages. This drives people with command and control supply chains crazy. But in a market dominated supply chain that relies on decentralised decision-making, hoarders can pay a heavy price by overstocking and the market punishes them automatically.

Anyway, good luck for the future. Business is good. Growing pains are a good sign, right?

A.S.
27-02-2006, 11:51 PM
If your biggest constraint to expanding production is on the labour input/training side then you may count yourself luckier than those who face capital constraints and need to purchase new plant and equipment.? Yes, this is true. Loudspeaker manufacture has low barriers to entry, which is both a blessing (it gives the little guy an equal opportunity to the big corporation) and a problem: you have lots of keenly priced competition.

The ISO inspection has only crystalysed what has been under our noses for years: we can not find the time undertake important long-range activities because we are running around like headless chicken trying to get product out of the door to hungry customer. We don't like to say 'no can do'. Sometimes it takes an outsider to see that and to question if this seemigly helpful customer-oriented attitude will ultimately strangle the business. We simply have to break out of this cycle, painful and disappointing it may be for those who still don't belive our change of attitude.

If we have calculated correctly, after this long adjustment phase we will have increased our turnover substantially (in line with the underlying demand) through efficiency increases alone - perhaps by as much as an astonishing 40% - simply by better planning. Think of the benefits to the entire Harbeth network ....

The next step is to turn on new distributors who are waiting in the wings and to bring to market the products of ongoing R&D.

Thanos
28-02-2006, 11:24 AM
Good Morning/afternoon everybody, wherever you are...
Growth within such a global market war is not so "linear" as someone might expect. It's tricky, I assure you... Competetion is sometimes fatal. A big brand might -in time- introduce a "Harbeth killer" product. Everybody who has a strong scientific/designing team may (potentially) hit this goal. And Alan has to have 4 eyes, 4 ears, also (sometimes) his mind and forecasting ability exceeding his head size. He must be ready any moment to regain his place in the race, if left behind. He has to keep up with the pace, yet to be Harbeth, be himself. Better to be reluctant to super growth (= establish new facilities/people), than retreating after any mid-long term crisis. Conservatively British? Might, but safer than a comet. Once I asked my 94 year old grandfather (survived/fought two world wars), "Grandpa, we have changes every day, don't you want some new things (digital telephone, new TV, dish washing machine etc...)?"
He replied: "What I see, is that changes are being more often than being essential"... "And I know where I sit. I'll change my chair for a new, safer, more stable one. And after careful inspection, ok youngie?".
And, my friends, is it a fight with Growth/dare Vs Stability/conservatisme? Not really... It just takes some time and much cautiousness to link them. That's how Alan thinks, I feel. Or am I wrong?
Cheers,
Thanos

Frihed89
28-02-2006, 03:16 PM
Is that Alan is right to play it safe. Harbeth is holding the cards for now. Name recognition is low, but growing fast and it will be a long time before sales stop growing at increasing annual rates. Just a guess.

A.S.
03-03-2006, 06:54 PM
Is that Alan is right to play it safe ... it will be a long time before sales stop growing at increasing annual rates
Well, let me update you on the situation some ten days after we actioned the 'Harbeth grows up' plan to balance sales orders against our realistic production capabilities.

Of course, the BBC continue to place orders for delivery the same day (yes, its true) and we hadn't really factored-in that, but across the general sales network, after little further explanation, there is universal recognition of the benefits of our improved efficiency. Why shouldn't there be? Everyone involved in Harbeth sales knows what product they can expect from us and on what date. That translates into their own sales and cash planning, better customer service and controlled growth all round.

There are some expected and unexpected benefits. We expected to be able to work towards Just In Time (JIT) deliveries, and we now can: since we have a production plan, we have a material plan, and the two are dovetailed. It will significantly reduce our stockholding and release cash tied up in materials. That's all the boring hard factual stuff. What's much more important and revealing of the rightness of our new system is the unexpected benefit . . .

The boost in moral and efficency, the reduction in stress has been astonishing. Really amazing. Colleagues have a smile on their face. They are enjoying what they do. They go home at night knowing exactly what is expected of them tomorow, next week, next month, three months away. They know that I won't be leaning on them in response to a last minute call hustling for delivery. It is a win-win all round. Working to a plan is comforting.

Great products take time to plan and manufacture. Our energy level have been restored and great things will flow from this. I guess that some critic somewhere will try and turn progress into regress, but they are utterly misguided. It goes without saying that all major distributors have orders in the pipeline and/or stocks on hand to serve our customers.

Peter Jacobsen
04-03-2006, 02:43 AM
I think this is all very useful and interesting information. Full order book until August 2006.......that's a long wait! But perhaps it doesn't have to be that long for every buyer. I ordered my Harbeth C7ES-ll's on the 10th of February this year and received them less than two weeks later. I didn't mind that at all, it just increased the excitement. I guess the distributer (Garner company in Hong Kong) must have had lots in stock. Having to wait until August would have been quite a disappointment.

By the way, I'm very happy with my purchase, it was worth the wait and every 'Yuan'.

Next up would be M40..........maybe in 5-10 years? Gotta buy that apartment first, bugger!!

A.S.
04-03-2006, 09:58 AM
that's a long wait! But perhaps it doesn't have to be that long for every buyer. I ordered my Harbeth C7ES-ll's ... and received them less than two weeks later. Actually that date has now moved forward.

No, no distributor can afford to hold lots of stock these days, nor do we have the luxury of dedicating our production to one distributor to build a stockpile for them whilst we keep others waiting: can't be done.

The secret of professional distribution is the intimacy with and reading of a local market, analysing seasonal and other variables and placing orders on the manufacturer well in advance to allow for production, shipping (seafreight takes 6 weeks typically), customs clearance, delays at the port etc. etc.. That way, a distributor gets a continuous JIT delivery from Harbeth and can optimise local stockholding - far more cost effective than hoarding stock. Keeps prices down too. It adds up to the end user getting his new Harbeth in a reasonable time scale and at the lowest possible cost and least inconvenience and stress.

Your local distributor, Harbeth Hong Kong, are a model of 'how to do it', and hardly surprising, you benefit from the good service they get from Harbeth UK. They'd need to be with the vastness of the China market under their care and control.

A.S.
06-03-2006, 04:25 PM
No, no distributor can afford to hold lots of stock these days... It adds up to the end user getting his new Harbeth in a reasonable time scale and at the lowest possible cost and least inconvenience and stress ...

"Even" loudspeaker manufacture must conform to modern, efficient business management. The key word is Sustainability in world of turbulence and instability: http://www.govanonline.com/businessfaq.aspx

Most manufacturing issues can be solved by throwing money at them. Ultimately, either the shareholders or the customers, or both end up footing the bill for failure because better planning was what was actually required. Surely most (all?) Harbeth buyers would trade a reasonable lead time for the lowest possible cost?

A.S.
09-03-2006, 05:02 PM
I've been asked by two prospective end customers 'will we have to wait until many months - perhaps until late summer - to be able to purchase Harbeth speakers?'.

The honest answer is maybe - or maybe not. It entirely depends upon what is in the order pipeline for the import channel into your country. If your distributor/importer has either a) Harbeth inventory in his warehouse b) stock on order with Harbeth factory c) stock in transit by sea or air and d) unsold inventory in the distribution network in your country then there should not be an abnormal wait.

If conversely, some or none of the above apply (and there are, unfortunately, examples of that) then your point of contact is with your Harbeth dealer, not with the factory. All we can do in the factory is work to bulk sales orders build plan, first in, first out. We are working to plan, on plan, steadily chomping our way through the sales order pipeline that takes us out to September. It is, of course, being topped up weekly with new orders on the back end.

The efficiency gains here and throughout our supply base are already tremendous. If anyone is interested I have made a screen cam video of how we operate our MRP system and how production is planned so that you can look over our shoulder. You can see for yourself the complexities of production planning and the horrendous consequences of adding "just one more pair".

A.S.
14-03-2006, 09:26 PM
... The efficiency gains here and throughout our supply base are already tremendous... For the one or two doubting Thomases who have used our ISO efficiency drive to read all sorts of nonsense into our motives and reasoning, I can tell you that now we have a thorough top-to-bottom grip on the manufacturing fundamentals and we are now ready to make our move to the next stage of our plan. We have created an immediate vacancy for an additional pair of hands in the Harbeth/KEF drive unit production area, that being one of the identified bottlenecks. Other incremental steps are planned but we must walk before we can run.

Perhaps best of all, more R&D ground has been covered in the time freed-up from runing around in ever decreasing circles in the past month by me than in the previous year. There are lots of exciting new projects bubbling away.

Russell Dawkins
16-03-2006, 02:07 AM
Alan,
I would certainly be interested in seeing the screen cam video you mentioned in the post of 09 03 2006.
Russell

Frihed89
01-04-2006, 06:12 PM
I am down to 2 speakers (I hope), and one of them is the Compact 7. I have heard/auditioned/ and backed away from a number of choices. The decision is a hard one. The speakers sound differently, but I really like them both for different reasons. I would die very happy to own either. They cost about the same (a lot). My wife likes both.

My dilemma is obvious. I can buy one speaker today without waiting even a day for delivery or I can wait a long time for a Harbeth. How long? And how do you find this out?

What is Harbeth policy regarding the following (I am sure I am not alone in these questions):

If I put in an order, how long will it take before my dealer can tell me with certainty when my order will be filled? Is there any way one can find out how long it will take to fill an order without putting in an order with the dealer? Does Harbeth allow its dealers to require customers to put some cash down/give blood/claim the right, jus prime noctae/etc to hold one's place in the que?

John Callaway
Copenhagen

A.S.
01-04-2006, 08:44 PM
John: this is not really a question the factory can answer since we have no idea at all as to the local conditions in any market. If we know a) the sell through rate in any market b) how much stock the dealer has on the shelf c) what other prospective customers he is talking to/giving demonstrations to we could then compare that with orders he has already in the pipeline, do a bit of rough and ready maths and see whether he had inventory available to satisfy you or not.

In a larger organisation (such as our friends at KEF) they employ sales and marketing specialists to manage this whole process, but at a considerable cost in salaries, expenses etc.. You won't pay for that - so we have to draw a line between us as the manufacturer and the regional distributors as expert saleman.

In the final analysis it's about confidence. We can't 'impose' confidence on the market, nor should we run with the stock level we have been "just in case an order turns up" (but with my reckless disregard of who and how we'd find the time to assemble the speakers). That's inefficient, costly and chokes the factory with very slow moving, definitely-not JIT stock, hence lowers not increases efficiency. We estimated that we lost half a day a week just shuffling stock around to make space. Half a day a week is about a 10% efficiency gain we've now achieved from swapping logistics for proper production.

Two final thought, though maybe a small comfort to you: 1. I wish that we'd got to grips with balancing supply with demand years ago. I don't think we could necessarily have increased capacity that much, but we all, right through the supply chain, could have benefited from a huge reduction in stress. 2. Not all of our distibutors have responded effectively to the pipeline. Sadly, there is not a lot we can do to help them.

Frihed89
01-04-2006, 09:11 PM
Thank you Allan. I need to talk to the big bosses at Lydbutikken and at Tekni-fi and see if i can get a straight answer. Or do I need to be asking at a different level? My question goes something like: if i put in an order for a Compact-7 when will it be delivered? Can anyone answer that question? The answer I got from a lower level person, was a lot of handwringing and "it might be September-October", which I think meant "i don't know".

A.S.
01-04-2006, 11:22 PM
My question goes something like: if i put in an order for a Compact-7 when will it be delivered? That's about it. It would be fair to say that it has come as a bit of a shock to the entire chain that we had the need and the will to look afresh at the entire picture viz. how we balanced demand and supply. In some markets, where the concept of planning and forcasting is second nature in the wider business community, there was immediate recognition that the old game was over and a new one underway.

What has surprised me no end is my conclusion based on long observation that the 'audio industry' somehow sees itself outside the norms of modern business practice. It sometimes seems to forget that whilst it exists to satisfy the audio demands of the consumer (the fun bit) it is, or it should be - indeed it has to be - a business. It has to look carefully at costs, cost benefits and efficiency. There is no other way. We live in a ruthlessly cut-throat business environment with constant price-deflation (in real terms) in every consumer product you can think of and anything that stands in the way of cost control and efficiency has to be pruned: good and hard. You, as a consumer, will not pay for my inefficiency: nor should you.

I fear for the community that there are tougher times ahead that will require a reappraisal of the entire manufacturing and distribution model - not just in audio. Although we have taken some ill-informed and misguided criticism from mischievous elements who misunderstand the logic behind our efficiency drive, when this is reconsidered five years hence, just as with our RADIAL technology, we will be seen to have taken the optimum path. It certainly helps to be a canny Scot - which is what enpowered me to make my own speakers when I was a teenager and still keeps our selling prices to the minimum.

A.S.
18-04-2006, 04:38 PM
We have a step by step solution to increasing productivity, shortening leadtimes and moving our company forward to meet the new business environment challenges. Thank you to those of you who have recognised the painful path that any small business must follow as it grows up: conversely, those who have seen our incremental approach as a sign of our dissinterest, deliberate strangulation of the market or whatever - you are so extremely wrong. Wrong in fact, wrong in interpretation and wrong to believe that such comments are in any positive sense motivational.

What never ceases to amaze me is the vague preception that the audio industry is flush with cash and that somehow wafting dollars around will solve all problems. That's the thinking of twenty years ago: the golden days. There are now definite limits in the capacity of manufacturers right through to retailers to make big, bold and expensive investments in their businesses. We all have to think smarter - much smarter to survive and thrive. Reckless expansion is not sustainable - not that it ever has been in this industry - and for that reason there really is no alternative to a calculated, incremental, financially prudent, internally funded growth. But first you have to resolve the fundamentals - the limits to efficiency, throughput etc. - the nitty grity. That we have addressed and yes, Production did work through the four-day Easter break to make more RADIAL drivers to permit maximum system production this week.

Our new staff member will work primarily in the drive unit (RADIAL) production area. That will remove the bottleneck that's become apparent, perhaps increasing efficiency by 15-20% which can all be put towards system production.

The end of the current sales pipeline is now at the begining of November 2006, a considerable time away in what we are advised is a fickle audio market with customers that 'absolutely must have this instant' regardless of the fact that we are and have always been a craft business. Self evidently, there are customers who have taken this situation on board, got orders into the pipeline and will get deliveries: they have confidence in the Harbeth brand. We now all know where we are going.

As to increasing our storage on or off site, our long experience is that the more man handling of cabinets, the more prone to damage they are. That is not a solution, it just creates a different sort of problem: the paperwork to reject cabinets that fall below standard back to the supplier is extremely time consuming and frustrating: added costs for no benefit whatsoever.

One thing I can absolutely guarantee: faced with the many constraints on the industry and our tiny niche within it, it is only possible to meaningfully criticise when appraised of all the facts. To do that, you have to spend time here with your sleeves rolled up.

Frihed89
18-04-2006, 06:03 PM
Well, I was saving up to buy a pair of HLP3s. That is, until the world ran out of Harbeths. How long could I wait? I am actually going deaf in my right ear at a rate i can measure. It's not a fun time in my life. There is some hope that a second operation might be successful, where the first was not.

So, i went to my backup choice - the little monitor i tell everyone else to buy but never owned myself. It used to be made in the UK, but it has migrated eastward, like me, only farther. Not me, I was holding out for Harbeths.

I bought a used pair for about $400. And I love them so much I stopped saving up for the HLP3s. I am listening to them now, detailed, open, natural, a little more forward than the HLP3s, but that gets to be less and less a problem as I go deaf.

That done, I decided to shift my focus save up for the big banana, Compact 7s. Where I live the HLP3 cost about $2300 and the Compact 7s, about $3300, so i figured that would fit in nicely with the current supply shortage. I could dream of being a Harbeth owner again!

Until last week, when on a trip to Stockholm I happened to wander into a hifi shop and lo and behold there was the bigger brother of my little monitor, a 2.5 way floor-stander with about the simplest cross-over system i have ever seen and now 2 kevlar cones. It must be bright i thought, but i allowed the shop owner to talk me into listening anyway

And i was hooked, again, because now i could hear the same natural sound a bit farther down the regsiter, but just as clear and crisp as the highs and the mids. They reminded me of te day I fell in love with the Compact 7, but these beauties cost only $1300 brand new in stunning Birdseye Maple, just like the monitors.

Well I work for the UN, so i had to reunify this family, and I promised them both I would do this before November 2006.

Sorry Alan, I really did use to love Harbeths, and I almost owned one, twice. I know someone else will buy the one's I didn't. But if you multiply 1 by a large number, you get a large numer of 1's that got away.

John Callaway
Copenhagen

RIP Peter Walker, OBE

A.S.
18-04-2006, 06:27 PM
... That is, until the world ran out of Harbeths. How long could I wait? I am actually going deaf in my right ear at a rate i can measure. It's not a fun time in my life. There is some hope that a second operation might be successful, where the first was not. . . We'll I'm really sorry that we could not serve you.

However, I would like to correct one thing that I obviously have not made clear. You - and others - have said or implied that "the world has run out of Harbeths". This suggests that the current leadtime issue a new, unexpected and unique situation that has come out of the blue. Not so. We've never known anything else.

We have never, ever, been able to keep up with demand - not during the last twenty years anyway. The difference in these past few months as the ISO rope has tightened is, quite simply, that we have stopped kidding ourselves and our customers that we are a tap that can be turned off and on at will. We now do not pretend that we can work 24/7: we factor in the time lost to sleep, our families, supplier hiccups, vacations, public holidays, bottlenecks etc.. Take that all together, and what you have is a formalised acceptance that there is an order pipeline. And it's now quantifiable, almost to the day, for months ahead.

It is, I'm sure you will agree, madness to have the Designer in any business chained to his desktop day in day out, month in month out, decade in decade out, firefighting routine supply/production issues all of which are the direct consequence of working against the clock with inadequate time to plan, react - or even to think. He/she should be adding value to the business, creating new concepts, putting his/her abilities to their best use and being rewarded with the same thrill of creation that first attracted them to the industry all those years ago.

I hate to lose a customer, but there is no quick fix. This supply/demand issue is not, actually, new to Harbeth although to someone on the outside without the benefit of careful review of our 29 year span sales/production records, it may well look like one.

Frihed89
19-04-2006, 03:25 PM
Thank you for putting things in perspective. I was only trying to dramatize how i felt at the time i was ready to purchase the HLP3s and got the bad news.

This was just a personal story about how one prospective customer adjusted to the situation, not an attack on your fine company.

A.S.
19-04-2006, 03:38 PM
Thank you for putting things in perspective. This was just a personal story about how one prospective customer . . . I know that and thank you for saying so. Again, I'm really sorry that we were not able to supply you this time. Maybe you'll give us another chance next year?

We are doing everything we can to increase productivity, but this is limited by the virtual impossibility of recruiting good, reliable, motivated staff. I have never known such a situation: we advertise for one month in the local newspaper and we receive two - only two - replies. Where are all the young people? Don't they want to work any more? Maybe it's because the headline of our advert is "Quality conscious person required ...."

Frihed89
19-04-2006, 04:05 PM
We have the same problems in Denmark. No one wants to be an engineer any more. Was a time when the danish technical education in EE was as good as anywhere and turned out a lot of good designers. Now everyone wants to be "creative", so every year since i have lived here (the last 10), all of the engineering programs at the Danish Technical Universty have been entirely open to anyone with passing grades in G-3 (12th class), while you need almost perfect grades to get into political science or psychology.

That's what happens when education is free; when labour markets are inflexible; and the state will support you if you pick the wrong education and become unemployed. Unemployment is becoming a bigger problem for university graduates in Denmark each year, except for engineers....the few we turn out any more.

A.S.
19-04-2006, 07:27 PM
... Now everyone wants to be "creative"...That's what happens when the state will support you ... Absolutely correct. Meanwhile the fat cats in Brussels (I was there myself last week) spend our hard earned money on madcap schemes that involve running-down and writing-off industry. "We'll leave that to China" they say. It reminds me of when I was at high school (some thirty + years ago) and the careers master interviewed me. "What do you want for a career, boy" he boomed at me. I stuttered, and sheepishly replied "Well sir, I'd like to make things with my hands" (meaning speakers but not daring to say so). He was mortified. "With your hands boy? You mean getting your hands dirty? Manual labour? I can't help you: I can offer you insurance, the clergy, the army or banking ...... what is it to be?"

That was then, in an era before computers, media studies or iPods.

So you'll readily appreciate that manufacturing anything in Europe is hard work, swimming against the tide. That's why ISO is a good thing for us all: it forces everyone in our entire chain to think and plan - in other words to use the very same approach to business that have turned those busy bees in China into the economic might that they are. But would you believe it: there are many examples of total and utter disregard for what we are striving for.

Thanos
20-04-2006, 10:03 AM
Absolutely correct. Meanwhile the fat cats in Brussels (I was there myself last week) spend our hard earned money on madcap schemes that involve running-down and writing-off industry. "We'll leave that to China" they say. It reminds me of when I was at high school (some thirty + years ago) and the careers master interviewed me. "What do you want for a career, boy" he boomed at me. I stuttered, and sheepishly replied "Well sir, I'd like to make things with my hands" (meaning speakers but not daring to say so). He was mortified. "With your hands boy? You mean getting your hands dirty? Manual labour? I can't help you: I can offer you insurance, the clergy, the army or banking ...... what is it to be?"

That was then, in an era before computers, media studies or iPods.

So you'll readily appreciate that manufacturing anything in Europe is hard work, swimming against the tide. That's why ISO is a good thing for us all: it forces everyone in our entire chain to think and plan - in other words to use the very same approach to business that have turned those busy bees in China into the economic might that they are. But would you believe it: there are many examples of total and utter disregard for what we are striving for.

Good God, I've got university diplomas in political science, sociology and law! I'm working as real estate broker-employee in a big company. With 21.000 euros per year you cannot face cost of living in Athens, having family, expenses day in-day out... And, my neighborhood's plumber (he didn't go to high school) earns about 3 times as much. With dirty hands. I wish, if I wasn't married with a child coming in, Alan would get me there in the beautiful Harbeth factory by this gorgeous countryside... I would personally rub the speakers' finishes to perfection, considering each pair as a kind of child... Living humbly, not a rich man, yet not having my head and soul crashed every day on the false ground of a not anymore natural world. Well, my good Alan and friends, that's life... And that's why I bought my beloved SHL5s. At least, they recreate natural sound beautifully enough to help me forget and travel -for a while- into a better world. Please don'y call me pessimist. Just romantic..
Greetings from Athens approaching Easter and Spring,
Thanos

David Schalkwyk
20-04-2006, 12:40 PM
It reminds me of when I was at high school (some thirty + years ago) and the careers master interviewed me. "What do you want for a career, boy" he boomed at me. I stuttered, and sheepishly replied "Well sir, I'd like to make things with my hands" (meaning speakers but not daring to say so). He was mortified. "With your hands boy? You mean getting your hands dirty? Manual labour? I can't help you: I can offer you insurance, the clergy, the army or banking ...... what is it to be?"

From the evidence of this deft bit of writing, Alan, you could have been a novelist! But I suspect that your careers master would have been just as nonplussed and indignant at the thought.

David

A.S.
19-09-2006, 04:47 PM
We have just successfully completed our ISO9001 Audit with the Auditor's comment "A well documented quality system - with records to match."

Now we have concluded my first phase - securing and strengthening our Company's foundations. The next step is to increase our manufacturing capability, our production capacity and to cut our leadtime. We are working on this right now.

Thank your for bearing with us whilst we have been preparing ourselves to restructure our internal systems to make more Harbeth products available at a consistent quality to our hungry customers.

36 chapters of our ISO9001 paperwork system looks like the attached; a great deal of effort with one objective: customer satisfaction.

A.S.
24-10-2006, 03:46 PM
With a couple of exceptions due to material shortages, good news on the Harbeth production leadtime. We now have an additional staff member, and the new production planning system seems to be running well.

This means that we have made a real impact in cutting the production leadtime, which is now back to the our long-term 'norm' of about 10-12 weeks ex-Harbeth.

Next year is Harbeth's 30th Anniversary .... and we have increased efficiency here to take advantage of the continuous month-on-month sales expansion and our plans to celebrate this milestone.

Thanks for being so patient and understanding as we have realigned our business to demand whilst keeping our overheads to the absolute minimum, hence reducing the price you pay to the bare bones.