I just know how to drive a car

>> Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ok, even that, I may not know so well.

I went to a tyre service workshop yesterday and left spending three times as much as I originally expected. My thoughts:

1. In the case where the income of a business is directly proportionate to what service/items they would advise or recommend to their clients or customers, such as workshops, or even clinics (doctors selling medicine?), what's stopping them from using this to their benefit other than professional ethics (and fear of God, of course)? In the case of my visit yesterday, I planned to change one tyre, but it seems that there's another tyre that needed to be changed as well upon their inspection. Okay, I accept that because I could see the damaged part, but there were also some other services ... well, I can't even remember what they were without looking at the bill. And those were less visible to the (very) untrained eye. That's why when we shop around for workshops, we ask for recommendations - are they trustworthy and honest and will not take advantage of us? Perhaps I should look for another tyre shop.

2. I'm not very diligent when it comes to keeping records of my car maintenance. My husband had repeatedly reminded me to jot down in a log book, but I still procrastinate, believing that keeping all the receipts in the glove box is a valid alternative. If a workshop keeps all these record (digitally) by car registration, it will be added value for a car owner like me, and would possibly keep me loyal to their business. Provided of course, that they are trustworthy and honest (see point 1).

3. Maintaining a car is quite complex (at least to someone as clueless as me). You go one workshop for normal services, a different for the tyres, a different one for batteries, a different one for engine repairs, a different one for cosmetic repairs, yet a different one for air-cond, and so on and so forth. There is probably already a one-stop-centre for all your automotive needs, but I don't think I have seen one yet. I guess the industry is indeed complex, and each segments is a specialised one, such that the current model is the optimum model?

4. When a car is sent for repairs and it is detained at the workshop for three, four days or even longer, it is rare that it's owner has spare cars to use. Usually he or she would need to perhaps arrange a less convenient routine with the spouse (share) or borrow a family or friend's car, or perhaps use the public transport. What if the workshop offers cars for rent (at a special price), or perhaps make an arrangement with a car rent business? The owner's car is stuck at the workshops as a 'collateral' or 'deposit'. The thing to be careful about is not to abuse the customer's trust by purposely prolonging the repair works in order to get more income from the rental business.


The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

>> Thursday, December 1, 2011

I was trained in engineering as a university student, but I only did about two years of engineering work after I graduated before I moved to a sales and marketing department. I don't miss doing engineering, but I still have casual interests in matters relating to engineering, especially when they involve good inventions and designs that brings benefits to society.

Today I found out about The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, which I think is pretty cool. It's an international prize tipped to rival the Nobel Prizes. Worth £1 million, it will be presented every two years for “outstanding advances in engineering that have created significant benefit to humanity”. The first prize will be presented in Spring 2013.

The prize has been set up with an endowment fund provided by several UK and international companies including Shell, BAE Systems, BG Group, BP, Glaxo SmithKline, Jaguar Land Rover, National Grid, Siemens, Sony, Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Steel Europe.

The fund is being managed by an independent charitable trust, and The Royal Academy of Engineering will deliver the prize on its behalf.

More about the prize at the Royal Academy of Engineering website.

From the website:

Message from Lord Browne, Chair of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation

“Engineering underpins every aspect of our lives. As the bridge between scientific discovery and commercial application, engineering feeds and clothes us, and enables us to work, travel and communicate. But too often the engineers behind the most brilliant innovations remain hidden. The Queen Elizabeth Prize aims to change that. It will celebrate, on an international scale, the very best engineering in the world. I believe that this prize will inspire the public, especially young people, with a sense of the excitement and the importance of engineering.”


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