'The cause of many
Caravan council founder
turns the spotlight on quality assurance
Have your say
CARAVAN Council of Australia founder
and general manager Colin Young has turned the spotlight on RV
builders and compliance requirements.
He poses the question: Caravan quality-assurance
program ... does the manufacturer of your caravan have one?
He believes that they are "sadly lacking" in the
industry, which is said to be worth around $19 billion.
requirements for manufacturers of caravans and camper-trailers for
ensuring full compliance and high quality are exactly the same as those
for motor vehicles, aren't they?
"Well, if chalk and cheese - and day and night - are exactly the same,
then the answer is yes.
"However, they are not the same, nowhere near it!
"That is the major reason why caravans and camper-trailers have so many
problems and why owners have so many complaints."
Mr Young has written the following article on the
Manufacturers of motor vehicles must have
approval from Vehicle Safety Standards (VSS) in Canberra to affix
compliance plates to their vehicles. This is not a simple process.
Before a motor vehicle model can be offered for sale in Australia,
detailed credible documentation proving that it complies with all
applicable Australian Design Rules (ADR) must be submitted to VSS for
If the documentation is accepted as demonstrating full compliance, a
comprehensive Single Uniform Type Inspection (SUTI) is conducted on a
production vehicle to confirm that the vehicle's ADR-related components do
accurately match the documentation supplied.
Approval is then granted to affix compliance plates to all vehicles of
that specific model.
To be confident that no changes have been made, and that compliance
continues, Conformity of Production (CoP) random audits are regularly
conducted by VSS personnel.
With regards to compliance, manufacturers of caravans and camper-trailers
can simply affix trailer plates to their vehicles via the accepted scheme
And for quality, manufacturers of motor vehicles are legally required to
have a professional Quality System Documentation (QSD) program in place.
Manufacturers of caravans and camper-trailers have no such legal
The aim of any Quality Assurance (Q-A) is to best-ensure that all
production products are fully "fit for the intended purpose" and comply
with all applicable laws and standards, and with recognised engineering
The Purpose of a Q-A program is to:
Assist the company in providing products and services of the highest
Ensure compliance with all applicable legal regulations, such as, for
caravans, VSB1 and the ADRs.
Help protect against litigation and recalls by ensuring the company is not
The intent of a Q-A program is to "do things right the first time" and
have a zero-defects target.
Some Q-A programs aim to guarantee that all production units are exactly
the same as the "master sample".
This is fine … unless the sample has unknown defects, in which case all
production units will have the identical shortcomings.
It is of fundamental importance that the Manufacturer displays a
meaningful Quality Policy statement, that all employees are fully
The key elements of a Quality-Assurance program relate to:
Specifications and tolerances
ADR/VSB1 component inspections.
Reliability and maintenance.
Quality planning and process-control plans.
Stage - and final - inspection check-lists.
Skills and ability.
Education and training.
Responsibility and involvement.
For caravan and camper-trailer manufacturers, the four most essential
items for compliance and quality confidence are:
Need to be neat professional CAD illustrations clearly showing - with
dimensions - where all components are to be located.
Need to be provided for each basic operation and not be cumbersome in an
attempt to cover numerous operations.
Accurate and durable templates need to be used for critical operations.
Perspective (3-D) drawings can greatly assist in enabling operators to
clearly visualise the "overall picture" of an operation.
Need to be neat professional guidelines clearly showing - in numbered step
points - how the particular manufacturing or assembling
operation is to be carried out in a safe and correct manner.
Need to be used (where applicable) in conjunction with the relevant work
VSB1 Components inspection:
While all incoming components need to be inspected, special attention must
be paid to all prior to being released for production.
Ensure components that are subject to VSB1 legal regulations are
fully-compliant and that no changes have been made.
Stage - Need to be a number of professional (YES/NO numbered) list of
major "stage" operations so that any fault can be detected, and rectified,
without it passing through the entire manufacturing process, thus causing
a difficult and interrupting rectification.
Final - Needs to be a comprehensive professional (YES/NO numbered) list
covering all compliance, equipment functions and quality items.
This should form the basis of a pre-delivery inspection (Check-List for a
dealer to complete) prior to handing-over the caravan to a customer.
It is vital that all drawings, work instructions and check-lists:
Have the latest master copy filed, with an index, in the Quality-Control
Are up-to-date, approved, signed and dated by the production
Are protected by being laminated inside plastic sheets.
Do not have any "notes" scribbled on them.
Have all obsolete copies collected and removed from the manufacturing
Have all VSB1-related issues highlighted to ensure continued compliance.
Are clear and unambiguous and are presented in a plain key-point format.
The documents must be sufficient to enable any - suitably trained -
(stand-in) operator to be able to under-take and complete a particular
manufacturing or assembling operation without having to "guess" about "how
or what should I do next"?
This especially applies to operations where all caravans "need to be made
exactly the same", such as drilling holes and forming cut-outs in the
body, positioning lamps and reflectors and the layout of wiring, tubing
Using professional check-lists will greatly assist in ensuring that every
customer will receive a fully-compliant and high-quality caravan.
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