Friday, February 25, 2011

Made in China

I know I’ve written about related subjects in the past, but I just felt like writing about it some more. When it comes to tools such as knives and axes, I’ve just been hearing so much talk about how one knife is good because it was made in the US, but the other one is very low quality because it was made in China.

While from a statistical stand point, such a statement might be true and very well supported, more often than not, it misses the actual cause of the problem. China can produce metal with the same quality as any other country in the world, including the US. Similarly China can temper metal just as well. There is also nothing inherent about Chinese people that leads them to be unable to achieve high quality control. The technology and techniques required to produce products such as knives and axes are well known to every manufacturer around the world. There are no magical secrets out there.

The reason why we see the above patterns in quality or lack there of, is that while labor in China is chap, it is not that cheap. What happens most often is that manufacturers who export the production of certain items to China (or any other country with lower cost of production) select which items are to be exported. These items tend to be the low end of their line. The foreign production is used to drive the cost of a cheap product even lowed. The company exporting the production could easily require higher standards and better quality control. The problem with that is that then the cost would go up regardless of the fact that it is made abroad. Cold Steel could easily chose to manufacture $100 axes in China which would have very high quality. They however chose to manufacture $20 axes instead. The lack of quality control does not stem from the fact that it is made in China, it comes from the fact that it is a $20 axe. The cost reduction has to come from somewhere, and that is most often quality control.

My point is, judge products for what they are. Their place of origin is not a conclusive indicator of quality.