[quote] Regarding the A-E factory redesign, I recall that you mentioned that before either here or on the Ask Andy forum; but I can't remember what you said and I can't find the post in question. Could you tell us again what A-E did and what impact this has had on quality? They took out the assembly line method and installed a 'pod' system. Before, and traditionally, the shoes went from station to station where someone performs the same task over and over again to complete each small part of the manufacturing process. The assembly line model works fine as long as you have enough work to keep many people busy all the time. This, however, is not always the case now. With so many changes having taken place in the last decade as far as retailing is concerned, this system has become inefficient at best for domestic production. Instead of leaving the country and using the same system with lower labor costs, they installed this 'pod' system. Teams of workers now perform multiple tasks on dedicated patterns working within a closed group. This allows for a far more flexible/efficient work force and production schedule. Instead of planning 6-8-10 month out inventory production, they now use pre-assembled uppers stocked in each pod and finish what they need to ship in the short term. Inventory levels are kept to a minimum but production can be scheduled on an as needed basis. Sounds like a pretty good response to out-sourcing production. The only negative I see is that the shoes will not sit on the lasts for very long and fit could suffer. Also, special make-ups, as you can see, are difficult to do in this system.