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Focus on: the italian ceramics, quality products

What is the real impact of technical complaints and why is the italian ceramics really criticized (if it is)?

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The industrial technologies born and developed in our country and then replicated anywhere else, have rightly made Italy a worldwide benchmark. Quality claims and complaints exist of course, but in terms of percentage they are still insignificant. However, the question that I will try to answer today is: What is the real impact of technical complaints and why is the italian ceramics really criticized (if it is)? “Criticized” and not “flawed” as there’s a difference between the quality we perceive and the regulations that need to be followed. In other words, a ceramics batch could be considered defective even if it complies with the regulations.

Let’s not forget that the tile is but a tiny part of the elements the floor is made of, and it’s often blamed for shortcomings and negligence not strictly ascribable to it.
Here’s another premise before looking for an answer to our question: because there are neither proven resources nor any observatory photographing the real situation, I will try to deduct subjective conclutions according to the experience I have developed over the years working in various companies. For ethical reasons I will not mention any brands or distinction, but only the resulting aggregate data.

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The analysis is based on the observation of 3 main brands, carried out in different periods, but each one within one year. Aggregate sale turnover: 47 millions of square meters.The defects were sorted into 4 typologies: Geometric defect (e.g.: calibration, planarity, orthogonality, etc.) Aesthetic defect (e.g.: choice, decoration, color shade, divergence from the standard, etc.) Functional defect (e.g.: weakness, scratches, slipperiness, etc.) Fatal defect (e.g.: wear and tear, ice damage, etc.)
Reports were divided according to their seriousness in order to find a balance between regulations context and market expectations. Under regulations it is not a defect what is lying within the provided tolerance margins, which are necessary when you deal with not perfect industrial processes. On the other hand, the market seems to require a much higher degree of perfection from ceramic manufacturers. This is why part of the claims fell in the gap between wishes and real world, which is particularly broad on aesthetic and geometric matters. As it hasn’t been addressed in an appropriate and conclusive way by anyone until now, this gap led to discretional choices by each manufacturer.

  • Level 1 unfounded or specious claim.;
  • Level 2 minor flaw abundantly within the conventions and regulations margin;
  • Level 3 marked flaw but tolerable in the regulations context
  • Level 4 flaw on the edge of tolerability. This is debatable but of course detrimental for manufacturers
  • Level 5 undeniable flaw that exceeds the regulations margins

Even if we embrace the market point of view, taking as “defect” what in fact should be considered acceptable according to regulations (level 3 to 5), the percentage of the claims is still very small: 0.6% over the whole sales amount. Having said that, it is a fact that more than half of the claims are in level 3. This suggests that times are mature for a review of regulations.

The analytical study of claims by the manufacturers, although low in number, represents an extraordinary tool for reducing the gap between wishes of the market and real products, encouraging the pursuit of excellence.
My personal wish is that it will soon be possible to get rid of the individualism, so typical of any “crowded” and competitive market, and find a different way for the common good.


Author: Maurizio Bardini