Recently, I had the Opportunity to tour the Forest River PDI Facility in Goshen Indiana. And I came away impressed, and more confident than ever that Forest River is committed to the highest quality in the RV industry.
What is PDI?
PDI stands for Pre-Delivery Inspection. PDI can stand for several different things: When the Trailer factory does its final inspection before sending the unit to the dealership, when the dealership checks it in from the manufacturer, and when the customer comes in and does a “walk-through” of the unit are all examples of PDI.
Forest River’s PDI facility is charged to inspect units right off the assembly line from around 50 different Forest River manufacturing facilities in northern Indiana and Southern Michigan. They are independent of any particular FR company, reporting directly to FR’s corporate office. They inspect and test all types of RV’s, from the smallest pop up campers, to the largest motor homes. They are all subjected to the same rigorous testing procedures, to make sure each plant and each product is right by the time it reaches the RV customer.
What do they do?
Each unit that comes into the Facility first gets put into the Rain Room. There, an inspector sits inside the unit while the trailer is sprayed with water from all directions for 15-20 minutes while the inspector checks all of the windows, doors, roof seals, skylights, and vents to make sure there is no visible water leakage, because everyone knows, water is the enemy.
Then the trailer is pulled out and put in the line where another inspector starts checking everything functional about the trailer, such as drawers, cabinets, appliances, electrical systems, LP systems, etc. Everything on the unit is checked to make sure that it is both working, and looks good, noting any scratches and nicks in walls, curtains that may have stains on them, wall borders that aren’t straight, everything.
From there, it moves up the line and enters the plumbing section, where everything is tested from the freshwater system to the gray and black water tanks (with water… not… ewww).
Then the outside of the unit is inspected, and after all seals and exterior surfaces are checked, they spray the exterior with a soapy water solution while a machine creates positive pressure inside the unit. The soapy water creates bubbles anywhere that air is escaping. If air can get out, theoretically water can get in, and well, water is the enemy.
What Happens Next?
As the inspectors find problems or issues, they mark the issue with colored tape, and then write the problem on the tape. After the inspection is complete, the inspectors write a detailed report about problems, and observations about the functionality of any design. These reports go back to the factory and to FR’s corporate office, and the factory is graded on these scores. The factory managers seem to be quite competitive with each other about their scores, so they take these reports very seriously. These reports can uncover design problems, personnel problems on the line, and issues with products they buy to install in their units (water heaters, stoves, lights, whatever).
How do they pick the units from the factories?
The units sent to the PDI facility can come from a couple of different avenues. Every day, each factory picks out a random unit off the line to send, or sometimes the PDI facility notices that they have seen none of a certain model in a while, so they request one. Factories are always coming out with new models, and after they design it, they send the prototypes over to be inspected to try to find any issues they can iron out before moving on to full production. Also, when a Factory does any major remodels of their plants, or build a new plant, they send all of the units that come out of the factory until they are assured that production is coming out high quality.
What does this mean?
The Forest River PDI facility is something they are very proud of. And they should. It is a great way to keep all of their brands performing at the peak of their abilities, and identifying both the trailers, and personnel that aren’t doing their jobs. The end result is a higher standard of quality and accountability to those making decisions in their respective brands. This makes for a very high quality RV for the customer. For more information about the Forest River products that we carry, call us, or email us, or comment here, and we will be happy to talk quality with you!