Tight tolerances

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by sprayblond, Dec 25, 2011.

  1. sprayblond

    sprayblond Member

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    controlled
    by the ILCA Technical Officer. Therefore
    each Laser sailor can be sure when he
    participates at a regatta that the other
    sailors have no technical advantage over
    him because everybody has the quasi
    identical equipment. However, this system
    is costly. The tight tolerances lead to
    rejects in manufacturing. Inspection costs
    are higher. Copy parts are not controlled
    and can therefore be produced at lower
    cost

    From December Laser World. Tight tolerances lead to reject in manufacturing... Somehow I do not belive that to be the main reason for the higher cost.
     
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  2. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    I would love to see one single example of a tight tolerance in the construction of a Laser sailboat.

    Let me qualify that:

    I would love to see a description of a tight tolerance that might in any way contribute to a reasonable explanation of the following:
    A Kia automobile with a full tank of gas has a lower list price than a Laser on a trailer.

    Some improbable and unacceptable answers:

    The Laser's suspension system is is built to exactly fit various shorelines all over the planet.
    The Laser's hiking strap is built to tighter tolerances than the seat belts in the Kia.
    The Laser's mast is built to tighter tolerances than the Kia's drive shaft
    The Laser's window shape is more tightly controlled than the shape of the various Kia windows..
    The Lasers drain plug is built to a tighter tolerance than the drain plug on the Kia's oil pan.
    The Laser's sail is cut and sewn to tighter tolerances than the upholstery in the Kia.
    The Laser's control lines are built to tighter tolerances than the various control cables in the Kia.
    The Laser's pintles and gudgeons are built to tighter tolerances than the components of the Kia's steering system

    Not to mention all those tight tolerances the Laser must meet for tail lights, turn signals, brake lights, headlights, emergency flashers, windshield wipers, radios, speakers, door locks, transmissions, speedometers, oil guages, fuel guages, odometers, tires, spare tires, tire changing equipment, floor coverings, suspensions, shopck absorbers, cooling systems, heaters,

    Oh that Laser is soooo hard to build.

    let me try to comprehend this...

    wasn't that explanation posted on a website by using a computer??
    Does any one of you believe the Laser has manufacturing tolerances matching a single tolerance met while the computer you are currently using was manufactured???

    Is any one of you using a $7000 computer to read this post?

    Aside from the creation of the resins and reinforcements Lasers are among the simplest least technically difficult to manufacture devices currently for sale anywhere on the planet.

    Look around the room in which you are currently sitting and try to point at a single device or even a piece of furniture whose tolerances are less stringent than those used in laseer manufacturing.

    get a frikkin grip!!!

    The adjustable commercial shelving in my office has hundreds of slots and tabs that fit more exactly together than any Laser hull deck joint in history.

    Some lies and explanations are somewhat acceptable but

    the clowns foisting the "tolerances" fantasy explanation aren't fooling even those of us who think this guy is relaxing after making last night's deliveries.
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    I'm not sure I think its fair to draw a comparison between a company that builds 1.6 MILLION vehicles each year to a group of four factories that produce ~2500 boats a year - with one producing half of them.

    As we all know, the actual cost to build a Laser is substantially less than the retail value. A lot of the price of the boat is tied up in transportation, overhead associated with having real factories and facilities, markup for retailers, etc., etc. I could imagine a lone boat builder being able to produce a boat and sell it at his shop for less than the current retail price, but I bet that savings would start evaporating quickly if you lived far away from that shop. And I'd be surprised if a lone wolf builder could maintain the tolerances and reproducibility of the current boats.

    Anyway, an example of what Heini means are the aluminum spars. Even in the era of plastics there is still a huge demand for aluminum tubing so one might think that one could easily source spars. But the spars we sail with are not off the shelf items in this regard, they are custom drawn with tighter tolerances and requirements on quenching and the like. We all grumble about bending our aluminum spars, trying to address that problem requires finding suppliers who will meet the specs at minimum cost. Since these are small special runs (a tiny fraction of the total tubing market), the suppliers are going to charge lots more for all the special handling. In the end its very hard to find a supplier that is interested in such small runs and that gets reflected in the price.

    Its my personal opinion that the solution is to go to composite materials. There are thousands of composite masts in the world, the technology is proven (and, of course, our test spars work well). Better, we will be the major player in that market in the sense that our orders will swamp anyone else - suppliers will WANT our business and give very competitive pricing.

    But this would be a diversion from the original question... sorry!
     
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  4. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    far comparisons have never been my long suit...

    But let me expand yours...

    Generally aluminum tubing is much cheaper than composite tubing.

    but we have a self induced equalization of prices.

    Our spar business is tiny by comparison to virtually anyone else at the extruders and our specs describe a pain in the ass custom thickness....and a special alloy...not uncommon but special none the less.

    We ask the extruder to interrupt a series of multi thousand pound runs to make a year's supply of Laser spars which is still such a small run that set up time and die maintenance is a major part of the expense.

    If we need more to finish ayear...the set up costs are hge on a per tube ammortization.

    Composite spar builders who specialize in sailboat spars would absolutely love to have a regular run overhead covering contract with those who want the largest number of the simplest to build tubes.

    the cost to have that which is usually many times the price is adjusted downward at teh spar manufacturers and teh low cost aluminum is adjusted upward at the extruder.

    The answer remains...If you want more affordable Lasers, sell a million.
     
  5. sprayblond

    sprayblond Member

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    Sounds plausible, but does not explain why the replica manufacturers still find it worth while. Surely their production runs at the extruders must be much shorter... and they can sell a complete rig for GBP 260! http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?VISuperSize&item=320732774068

    Almost all problems this class is facing are caused by the creation of a monopolist through the Single Manufacturer One Design concept. The Laser manufactureres behave in every way like a classical monopolist, maximizing revenue.

    In its pure form, monopoly, which is characterized by an absence of competition, leads to high prices and a general lack of responsiveness to the needs and desires of consumers.

    Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/monopoly-1#ixzz1hom4cOSb

    The class should realize this and move away from the SMOD concept and instead allow several builders to supply boats and parts provided they could demonstrate ability.
     
  6. sprayblond

    sprayblond Member

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    monopoly (mənōp'əlē), market condition in which there is only one seller of a certain commodity; by virtue of the long-run control over supply, such a seller is able to exert nearly total control over prices. In a pure monopoly, the single seller will usually restrict supply to that point on the supply-demand schedule that will maximize profit.

    Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/monopoly-1#ixzz1hop0sAfy

    A situation in which a single company or group owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service. By definition, monopoly is characterized by an absence of competition, which often results in high prices and inferior products.

    According to a strict academic definition, a monopoly is a market containing a single firm. In such instances where a single firm holds monopoly power, the company will typically be forced to divest its assets. Antimonopoly regulation protects free markets from being dominated by a single entity.
    Investopedia Says:
    Monopoly is the extreme case in capitalism. Most believe that, with few exceptions, the system just doesn't work when there is only one provider of a good or service because there is no incentive to improve it to meet the demands of consumers.



    Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/monopoly-1#ixzz1hoqizpKB

    Anyone recognize this..?
     
  7. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Two points:
    1) remember that the price differential between "replica" parts and real parts is predominantly due to removing one or two links from the supply chain. For things like sails I'll bet the replica folks are paying the same to slightly more as the builder on a per sail basis, the rest of the difference is the markup through the supply chain. Spars are probably different, here I would imagine replicas being "off the shelf" (with little to no control over their characteristics) and cheaper which make them look even more attractive to you when you see the retail price.
    2) Are the builders of Lasers really a monopoly? If that is the case, then I would argue that the Coca Cola company is a monopoly... When I buy Coca Cola from the store it comes from a bottler who is forced to by the syrup used to make that beverage from the Coca Cola company and no one else. You might say, but you are free to drink Pepsi instead, so it is not a monopoly! The same with sailing, you are free to buy any number of other single handed dinghies - Byte, Force 5, Banshee, Canoe, Moth, Megabyte, Finn, etc., etc. The builders do, indeed, charge a premium on Laser but that is because they can. Still, that premium is constrained, at some point people will vote with their feet (ie a Laser is not going to cost $30,000 in 2011 dollars and still sell boats).
     
  8. Mike M

    Mike M New Member

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    Its interesting if you look at the Annapolis sailing website you can get a north laser sail (strict one design) for $565 or an North Optimist race sail (multiple suppliers allowed) for $570…….laser sailing is still the cheapest sailing I’ve ever done........
     
  9. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    Well said Mike. I had the pleasure of sailing an RS100 in Europe this summer. It's a terrific little boat, perhaps even more fun to sail than a Laser. I would sell my Laser and buy one tomorrow except...

    a) There aren't any RS100 fleets in my part of the world yet, so who would I race with?
    b) A new RS100 costs about $14,000. A new Laser is around $6,000. I could do a lot with that 8 grand difference.

    We all like to complain about the prices of Laser sails and other parts, but we tend to forget that Laser sailing is still one of the cheapest sailing options around, and that there are active racing fleets pretty much wherever you live. Lasers may, in one sense, be a monopoly but they are still pretty competitive with most of the alternatives.
     
  10. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    If you have such strong objections, why do you still sail a laser? There are thousands of other classes of boats around to sail where there is no monopoly. I really can't see why the laser should change to meet your needs or anyone elses'. The success of the laser class is simply because of the monopoly, the tightly controlled production, one design principle and the distribution network.

    A huge segment of the sailing population wants to be able to sail a boat which is essentially identical to their mate, be easily able to buy replacement parts including sails and masts off the shelf without wondering if this builder makes "faster" bits than some other builder, they sail lasers because it's easy to get a boat onto the water. I've gone through phases in my sailing career where every winter I sat done and designed my new boat for next season and then built it. I've gone off and worked with sail makers to cut my sail to match my mast and rig set up. I've been through the measurement processes where the class measurer has spent 4+ hours measuring every aspect of the boat. I've even measured one design boats coming off the production line to make sure the boats are within tolerance. The laser is simple & hassle free, go into the store, pick up the boat, put the sail numbers on and go sailing and you have no worse or better a boat than the world champion.

    There are better boats out there, but overall the laser is a brilliant compromise which works for a very large percentage of the sailing community and there is no need to change the formula for some perceived benefit, which is going to do away with the reason why the class has become so successful.
     
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  11. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    Laser builders have a monopoly on Laser class parts, but not sailboats in general. If they price stuff too high, people will just go sail something else.

    I think the only place where multiple suppliers could be applicable is the class-legal sail.
     
  12. sprayblond

    sprayblond Member

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    Well, then you forget that with Laser being an Olympic class there are really no alternatives for young ambitious sailors wanting to sail single handers. Once a class is granted Olympic status it is also granted a monopoly.

    Have you ever tried to complain to LP about a quality issue?

    To Alan: Look at Optimist. They have at least 10 manufacturers of boats, yet measurement at Worlds is done in about the same time as at Laser worlds. Why?

    With tightly controlled class rules it is perfectly possible to have several manufatcurers without having to measure mast curves etc.

    Problem today is that the laser manufacturers behave as monopolists with "a general lack of responsiveness to the needs and desires of consumers."

    Instead they spend their time with lawyers trying to defend their monopolies and develop boats like this one:

    [​IMG]

    I think it is only a matter of time before a major Laser event will be seriously affected by:

    " In a pure monopoly, the single seller will usually restrict supply to that point on the supply-demand schedule that will maximize profit".
     
  13. fat-n-old

    fat-n-old Member

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    Quite right..but as MikeM said "multi manufacturer allowed" Optimist sails are no cheaper. why not?.....

    .......well, the Oppie sails tend to be made locally to individual designs and to a high quality; with all the consequent overheads.

    The Laser sail is mass produced in the far east, to a simple and old design and has a multiple supply chain each taking their cut.

    The argument comes around (again and again) to.....Can we have a better quality Laser sail at the same price please?
     
  14. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Those North Opti sails are made in Sri Lanka, right next to the Laser sails. I'm fairly certain other sailmakers in the Opti racket use other far east suppliers as well. They don't have more overhead associated with them, their price is determined by what the market will pay (same reason a Star class jib costs almost twice what a Laser sail costs, yet it's smaller in size)

    I think Tillerman and Alan D both have valid points why the Laser is still going fairly strong, low initial cost (relative to most other classes) and strict one design control.

    What we are and have been dealing with for what seems like 10+ years is that we, the class members, are demanding a sail that lasts more then 3 regattas and a spar that doesn't permanently bend under normal sailing conditions. We have been getting one reason after another why it hasn't happened, which has led to the influx of the non-class approved replacement parts etc.

    IMHO, until we figure out a way to get the new sail and spars in place, we will he having the same discussions year after year.
     
  15. fat-n-old

    fat-n-old Member

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    Absolutely agree.

    Point taken re North sails..but the last five new opti sails i've bought have all been made in the UK.
     
  16. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    I haven't got a lot of time to respond, but until the Tornado was dropped, it was a development class with many of the sailors making their own hulls, sails etc. So Olympic status doesn't mean monopoly.

    Where do you think the measurement actually occurs if not at the regatta venue? Most classes of boats I've been involved with you need to make a booking with the measurer, you take the boat to a convenient spot for them and they spend half a day measuring them and then supplies the owner with a measurement sticker. With more mass produced boats, the measurer goes to the factory and measures 1 in 5 or 1 in 10 boats coming off the production line. If people want to go down this path, my hourly rate is $AUS100 + plus any additional travel costs as I have another more important business to run which is what feeds me and keeps a roof over my head. By the way, this is how the Optimists are measured (even the laser to some extent), it cuts down measurement times at regattas.

    I still don't see why the laser manufacturers need to respond to the desires of the consumers, when the vast majority of consumers are generally happy with the product. Some people would like a trapeze on a laser, some would like a spinaker, etc, the laser manufactures don't need to meet every consumers desire, they just need to supply as per the class specs.

    I repeat what I said before, if you don't like the way things are done in the class, find another class to sail, it really is that simple.
     
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  17. Emilio Castelli

    Emilio Castelli Member

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    Nothing else even come close to what the Laser can offer.
    I started sailing last January after 25 years away from any boat.
    Spent $1000.- for an '89 laser, including trailer. I just wanted to see whether I would still like sailing a dinghy.
    I liked it, so I bought a new sail (and an illegal practice sail) and went sailing.
    I am having a blast sailing it and I am competitive enough to have plenty of fun racing in the geezer fleet (though Tracy and Pete always kick my butt....).
    But I also broke the top section, bent the new one, broke the boom (old type, short sleeve) and I had tgo buy another sail for next year.
    And while now I am not worried about the boom (the class solved this problem), the new top mast is bent and will probably break again and the new sail cost almost as much as the boat...
    The class is awesome but it doesn't mean it can't be improved.

    E
     
  18. Emilio Castelli

    Emilio Castelli Member

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    Alan:
    I agree the class shouldn't respond to every consumer desires, but I think it should address actual problems faster.
    It is a mystery to me as to why the class did not sleeve the top section when they sleeved the boom. They were both breaking 30 years ago (the boom more often) but somehow they only fixed the boom.
    I can't find another class to sail; the Laser is still the best.
    E
     
  19. Old Dude

    Old Dude Member

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    Wow. Great thread with lots of insightful views and thoughts expressed.

    Like many here I too think that Laser sailing offers the best bang for the buck and an extremely high quality leve of racing. I race in various other classes including big multihulls and I have to say its a joy to be able to go out and race the Laser. No self serving politics of ratings, equal boats, big fleets. There is a lot to love about Lasers.

    That said, its sometimes a bit stunning that I have a 30 foot racing (and cruising) multihull for only about 3X the price of my Laser sailing. On an absolute basis comparing to other classes I have to wonder about the cost - though this ignores the quality of the racing. People have compared the cost of the Laser sail to the Opti sail, but having purchansed both, the Opti sail seems to be much better and seems to last far, far longer.

    Anyway, I wonder if SFBayLaser might expand on their post above because it cites an example that heavily influences my thoughts and I have often wondered how far from reality my perspective actually is. Lets talk about that sail. The replica sails can be purchased for for a huge discount (both absolute $ and % basis) compared to the class sails. They also last longer. I agree your comment that they likely cost a bit more to make compared to the class sail in part because of smaller production runs. So why can they be sold for so much less (absolute $ and %)? This implies there is a huge taking up of $s somewhere.

    SFBayLaser suggest its in the distribution/supply chain. Can you please explain why you think that? What difference in the supply chain would there be there? I have always guessed (and I welcome correction) that the main difference was that because it was not an official class sail, that some combination of designer rights (Kirby and/or GS) and class royalities (ICLA and/or ISAF) did not get paid and this implied that some combination of same got a HUGE cut. I am not saying I am right about this, just that logically, since I am buying the class and replica sail from the same retailer and the difference is so huge that the difference was not the supply chain but rather whatever designer rights and class royalities had to be paid. And IF this is correct, given the relatively large absolute and % difference it implies that somebody is making a lot of money for basically nothing. I doubt ICLA is seeing that much money from sales of sails. And if its ISAF and designer rights, the implication is that our game could be made much much more affordable and in so doing even better (bigger fleets).

    I would welcome an education here.
     
  20. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    I will reiterate, there is a huge difference between the sail and other parts of the boat when it comes to replica knock-offs. The sail is a part that wears out and competitive sailors need to replace periodically. It is one thing to pay a mark-up for a rudder that will last a lifetime compared to once a year on a sail. You then need to add the poor quality of the class-legal sail on top of that. A knock-off inferior rudder which sells at a discount is probably not much of a threat to the one-design aspects of the class. However, better quality knock-off sail which sells for 1/3 the cost of the class sail is a threat.

    I suppose a similar argument could be made about the upper spar section.
     

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