Technology and Quality at Steinway & Sons Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

Positioning Statement

            The management of Steinway & Sons made the use of computer numerically controlled shaping machines so that all the wooden members of the piano could be produced into a single integrated machining operation. Steinway & Sons remains at the pinnacle of the manufacturing of the piano. However, the management of the company was facing a significant issue. The company produced its Steinway each time in a similar way but it ended up producing every Steinway differently each time. The differences were not just related to the appearance of the pianos, but they were also related to delicacy, personality, strength and color ations of sound.

            As a result of these differences, some pianos have soft keys to play with while give others a workout to the arms of the players. However, no one at Steinway & Sons actually knows the true reasons behind these, but it is the wood which is affecting the production of the pianos despite the fact that the management of the company prepares and selects the wood carefully for each batch. Therefore, in order to resolve these issues, the quality control group was performing experiments to resolve the issues highlighted above.

Key Issues 

            A range of issues were faced by the management of Steinway & Sons as a result of its Piano manufacturing processes. The company faced many differences each time the company produced a new Steinway. However, nobody in the company was aware of why these changes occurred of what the workers called as the changes in the personality of the pianos.

            Some of the pianos that were produced by the company were mellow and small and they could be considered as fine for the chamber music however, other pianos were so percussive that even a full strength orchestra would not be able to drown them out. In some of the pianos, the keys were delicate and required small effort to play the piano however, in other cases when the pianist played the piano then his arms and hands got a workout.

            Furthermore, if we look at the work of Jagdesh Sukhu who is one of the woodworker at Steinway & Sons, he had around 14 years of experience in deciding which material was required for a sounding board and which was not acceptable. The rejects are then marked by Sukhu with a red crayon and he had stated that there were times when he had to reject around one-third or even more than that of the wood for the board. Therefore, the management of the company needed to implement such changes to the production process which made the pianos of the same form, size and personality.

            Along with this, all the action parts of the pianos were fabricated from the point of maple to the point of setting the tight tolerances. Each part required the tolerances to be very tight and it was extremely important for the production process because as the pianos were assembled the total variance of the action assembly would grow. The new machines of the company were creating complex action parts as in action assembly holes of specific diameter had to be milled and drilled which had to be positioned by 0.2 inches from the end of each shaft plus/minus 0.015 inches.

            The quality control experts of the company were concerned that the machines were not creating the desired tolerances and the required holes during the production process. Therefore, they had been experiencing a range of ideas to improve the manufacturing process to produce high quality pianos.

Technology and Quality at Steinway & Sons Case Solution

Analysis of Situation

Quality at Steinway & Sons

            The products of Steinway & Sons had been one of the most popular choices for different artists in New York. The culture, philosophy of the company and the tradition reflected the innovative techniques and quality hand craftsmanship since the inception of the company. Over the years the management of the company had modified its manufacturing processes and the company searched for the finest quality of wood around the globe and the best manufacturing methods were employed by the management of the company to manufacture the best of quality pianos in the town. This is the reason that the company wants to maintain that sustainability and high quality by focusing on its manufacturing practices..............

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