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وبسایت تخصصی متالورژی - Cost basis for selection
شنبه 24 بهمن 1388  12:54 ق.ظ

The process of selecting a list of promising candidate materials for a given application will be carried out initially in terms of the required properties, but final decisions will always involve considerations of cost which in many cases will be the dominant criterion. Placing a product on the market inevitably involves risk, and in a capitalist economy calculations prior to marketing must aim at the certainty of profit within a foreseeable period of time. The allowable margin of error associated with these calculations, and thus the vigor with which they are carried out, depends upon the state of the market and the activities of
           

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Cost basis for selection

The process of selecting a list of promising candidate materials for a given application will be carried out initially in terms of the required properties, but final decisions will always involve considerations of cost which in many cases will be the dominant criterion. Placing a product on the market inevitably involves risk, and in a capitalist economy calculations prior to marketing must aim at the certainty of profit within a foreseeable period of time. The allowable margin of error associated with these calculations, and thus the vigor with which they are carried out, depends upon the state of the market and the activities of competing manufacturers. Increase in costs from superior materials or components has to be offset by substantial improvement in performance, as previously indicated, if it is not to appear finally as an increased increment of cost for the project as a whole. A change of material also brings in house costs such as those associated with changes of instruction and stocking, particularly in the latter where the variety of materials being used is increased by the change.

Whilst in any given set of circumstances the competition between materials or components may be finally decided on costs where otherwise similar performance is obtainable, the precise level of performance and cost must depend on the type of application involved.

In the interaction between performance and cost it is possible to see a continuous spectrum stretching from, at one end, applications which demand the maximum achievement of performance(i.e. performance-oriented products) to, at the other end, applications in which considerations of cost must be predominant,

(i.e. cost oriented products).

Typical examples of fully performance oriented products would be advanced armaments (e.g. atomic submarines) and space vehicles.

In these cases the over-riding need for complete reliability in service means that, once the decision to manufacture has been made, considerations of cost will frequently be subordinate.

However, expenditure which does not improve the level of performance and reliability will only lead to reduce sales or increased resistance to project funding even where the level of cost is not the most important consideration.

Such funding may well be politically controlled and external sales may not be involved, although for many advanced armaments there is still a competitive market.

A less clear-cut example is a train for a commuter network. Although the level of performance required is not as high as in the previous two examples, it is still at a substantial level, or should be, to provide a reliable service on crowded networks. Yet the builder of trains is faced with the fact that there is hardly a railway system throughout the world that is not running at a loss. Nevertheless, wherever the money is to come from, once the decision to build is taken performance must be provided to the required degree and this fixes the level of cost.

Examples of cost-oriented products are a mass-market motor car and a washing machine.

The mass-production industries must market their products at a price the public will pay so that once an acceptable performance has been achieved, i.e. once it has been established that a design is able to function to meet the perceived market need, it then has to be decided what level of performance can be offered for the required price. The essential point here is that the manufacturer does not have to provide the maximum level of performance of which he is technologically capable. He has merely to ensure that his 'value-for-money' parameter is no worse, and preferably better, than that of his competitors; he therefore seeks to provide the level of performance which is economically right, i.e. the optimum rather than the best performance. This must, of course, be acceptable to the consumer.

As well as varying from product to product, the acceptable level of optimum performance may vary from time to time as the general climate of public opinion changes.

But how do you measure a 'value-for-money' parameter? The current trend is to move away from the volume manufacturing of uniform products towards products meeting the needs of the individual. The 'mass market' is becoming a mass of 'niche markets'.

Whereas in the 70s and 80s the price of a product may have been of paramount importance to the customer when it came to the decision to purchase, now, it seems, the consumer is becoming more educated in terms of the real value of quality, good design and, in particular, the benefits of the sensible and responsible use of our finite resources. We are, slowly, moving away from being a throw-away society.


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