Quality and safety are two crucial components for Bugaboo, a fact we've realised every member of the team never hesitates to highlight. Jeroen Kuiper, Global Quality Director, and Wim de Jong, Engineering Manager, are the company's generals who make sure all Bugaboo strollers do way more than exceed functionality expectations.
Besides looking good, Bugaboo products definitely require a high safety factor. What is the engineering team's approach to safety?
Wim: Everything we do fulfils global standards and we find that really important. It's a challenge because each country has their own safety regulations, but we always try to go beyond all those standards. We have to think of requirements from the government, and also requiremts from parents, and then we have to make strollers easy enough to use without a manual. We run some safety and functionality tests here in Amsterdam, in what we call the 'Torture Room' [laughs], and it's quite well equipped. Our Xiamen site has a similar testing room, but it's about four times larger.
In these rooms there are a bunch of processes going on. We have a machine that's similar to a treadmill, and our stroller is attached to a belt and made to continuously drive over bumps. There's also a bar shaker and break test, where the same action is repeated over and over. These are just a few of the many tests which help us create strollers that won't fall apart. An we go overboard with these tests because we want our strollers to survive the harshest conditions. They should always, always work.
Wow, the team seems pretty hardcore about safety and quality control. How do you guys think of specific tests for each new stroller model?
Jeroen: We try to find multiple methods that comply with all sorts of rules we can think of. We do about 1,500 of them in total. 600 are required by countries we're stocked in, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. The remaining 900 tests are done because internally we want to be able to validate our product.
We even tap into things like the effectiveness of the folding function, although international standards don't require that. There are also interesting tests for extreme weather conditions, since parents living in countries like Sweden bring their kids out even in negative temperatures. It's our responsibility to go further by making sure our products won't fall apart even in these conditions.
You guys mentioned earlier that testing doesn't only happen in the Amsterdam headquarters. How does the team make sure quality standards are kept the same in Bugaboo factories overseas?
J: We have a relatively small supply chain, consisting of a few strategic suppliers, and we develop them to meet our standards. This is the only way we can really be sure that they're upholding the quality. We built our relations in the beginning by interacting almost everyday, and it helps keep track of quality control even up until now. And if there ever is a drop in quality, we'll go to another supplier instead.
Has there ever been a situation where quality had to be compromised for other more important functions? What happens when issues like this arise?
W: We find solutions and make decisions that strictly won't compromise quality. You'll find that our parts last very long. Once, I met a person who had his third kid in one of our strollers. It looked brand new but he's had it since his first kid. That's what customers should expect from us. We even aim to create an effortless experience for customers, by perfecting even the little things like smooth turns when making a corner.