The Fruits of Outsourcing, or
A Contradiction Between the Current Trends of Economical Evolution and the TRIZ Laws of Technical Systems Evolution

Last year my car broke down. Not that it was undrivable but I started to hear some noice from the front end. Being an amateur mechanic myself, I quickly figured out that the noice emanated from the front wheel bearing. I decided not to wait until it seizes and replace it right away.

So, I went shopping for the bearing. The dealer showed me three bearings ranging from $65 to $130 a piece. My car was 8 years old and I decided to go with the cheapest one. My rationale was this: if the bearing for $130 worked for 8 years (the dealer told me that it was the original part), then the bearing for $65 would work for another 4 years, which was more than enough.

So, I installed the new bearing and was happy for ... 3 months !!! In 3 months I started to hear the noice again. I came back to the dealer and told them that they sold me a defective part.

"It is not defective" - the dealer replied, - "It is Chinese. Their steel is not good. Look, it depends on how much you drive. If 20 km a day they can last for years. But if 100 km a day, then it may become noisy in months."

It was silly to ask them why the shortliving bearing of the bad steel costs half the price of the original American bearing of the good steel which lasts for years regardless of how much you drive. Instead I accepted their offer to exchange the bearing. They brought from the stock a new box with a shiny new bearing and told:"Look, they look good. But many people complain." But I was reluctant to add the difference and buy the original part.

So, I installed the Chinese bearing again and right on time in 3 months heard the noise again. At this point I recollected that the substandard Chinese steel has already caused me troubles in the past.

For many years I could not find a good corkscrew which screw would not brake after opening just a few bottles. All big stores (Wal-Mart, Loblaws, etc.) had only corkscrews manufactured in China. And their screws were made of the bad steel which got broken very quickly. Nevertheless, the price was not bad ($10-15). Only recently I came across a specialty shop which had corkscrews of the good American steel. The price of $25-35 did not seem to me too high as compared to $10-15 for the substandard corkscrews.

But the most outrageous incident that caused me to take a look at the situation through the glasses of TRIZ happened just recently. I bought a pair of shoes at an expensive store for a good price. They looked great. But in three months (yes, three months again !) my heels pressed them through from inside in the area of heels ! This never happened to me in all my life. There were shoes which sole cracked. But to be punched by the heels from inside ? This never happened. Already suspecting something, I started looking for the manufacturer's label. Right, they turned out to be made in China !

This is against the law ! - my first reaction was. And indeed, in a few seconds I already knew which law was it against. The quality/cost ratio of the Chinese goods was much lower than the quality/cost ratio of the American goods which they replaced. But the ratio is nothing else but the degree of ideality of a system ! Hence, with outsourcing of manufacturing to China the degree of ideality of systems fell, whereas TRIZ teaches that it always has to grow ! The trends of economical evolution seem to come into a conflict with the laws of technical systems evolution !

The law of ideality is not the only one that seems to be violated. The law of parity does not fare better either. Does the North America sell to China the substandard goods too ? - I wondered. Not at all. A strange disparity then takes place: China floods our stores with substandard products at exorbitant (compared to their quality) prices and in return buys from us the newest technology at discount prices ! One need not be a TRIZnik to understand that something is wrong here.

The laws of economy should not take priority over the laws of technology. For one that the ideal economy (i.e. with the maximum efficiency etc.) is no economy ! There are no limits to outsourcing in order to maximize profit. Not only manufacturing and technology jobs can go abroad. In the age of Internet the lawyers', physicians', professors' and media anchors' jobs can go too. Even politicians' jobs can go. Everything can go to leave nothing but desert.

But anyway, is it not April 1st today ? So, let's make a Big Smile !