A part of the preparation for the ASQ CRE is experience and education. These, in my simple way of thinking, means applying what you have learned to solve problems and provide value. Reliability engineering is about two questions:
- What will fail?
- When will it fail?
A great deal has been written about what we have collectively learned in the pursuit of answering these two questions. The range of products, materials, processes, and environments continues to expand, and with it, our pursuit of these two questions.
Being a ‘good’ reliability engineer includes knowing how to apply a broad range of tools appropriately to the task at hand. Learning from our peers through their writing is one way to learn. Being part of a community, asking for assistance and guidance, experimenting, and guessing are other means. Together we learn and expand our knowledge.
So, in this short post, let me introduce you to five books that I believe must have a place on your bookshelf. More importantly, have a place in you tool chest (which means you need to read and understand these books!).
Finally, these are not the only texts that I recommend, nor are they the same set I recommend for the CRE exam. The knowledge within is a great basic start to mastering what it means to be a CRE.
Ireson, William Grant, Clyde F Coombs, and Richard Y Moss. Handbook of Reliability Engineering and Management. 2nd Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 1996.
I’m partial to this book, as I worked closely with Dick Moss while at HP and learned both from his gentle guidance and from the book. It is a comprehensive overview of a wide range of tools and techniques. More importantly, it includes a appropriate business approach to reliability engineering.
O’Connor, Patrick D T. and Kleyner, Andre. Practical Reliability Engineering. Chichester: Wiley, 2012.
Brand new – a just in time, as my 4th edition was falling apart. Used regularly. Another wonderful general guide, a mentor in a book, and a compendium of great approaches for solutions. The new edition is expanded, updated, refreshed, and the new centerpiece of my bookshelf.
Grant, Eugene Lodewick, and Richard S Leavenworth. Statistical Quality Control. 6th ed. McGraw-Hill series in industrial engineering and management science. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1987.
Not sure this is still in print, yet a reliability professional has to understand quality control. The suppliers, vendors, and assembly processes can cause significant field failures due to simple loss of control. This book has control charts, process control, and lot sampling. Clear explanation and great examples provide a solid foundation in these fundamental tools.
Nelson, Wayne. Accelerated Testing: Statistical Models, Test Plans, and Data Analysis. Edited by S S Wilks Samuel. Wiley Series in Probability and Mathematical Statistics. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1990.
My bookcase is pretty old, and the knowledge within is timeless. I regularly read about accelerated testing. I have close to 20 books and a thousand technical papers on all aspects of accelerated testing. And, I reach for Wayne’s book every time I need to solve the problem of compressing time. A statistical approach, so you’ll need other resources for the material science of the failure mechanism, yet provides sufficient information to become an ALT expert. This was the first book in my professional library and helped me solve my first task as a reliability engineer – the design and analysis of an ALT.
Petroski, Henry. Design Paradigms: Case Histories of Error and Judgement in Engineering. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Not exactly a textbook on reliability engineering, yet a book about how product design failures occur. We work closely with designers, and this book provides a wonderful set of guidelines around common behaviors that lead to failures. Being aware of these patterns and being aware of the traps, permits us to find errors that would otherwise elude us till failures occurred. Petroski also dives into the minds of designers, and I’ve found understanding how designers work, improves how I work to influence and improve product designs and reliability.
Of course, there are other books on my short list and across my bookcase. These five are essential reads. Others build on this base of knowledge and expand the tools and techniques. Still, others provide guidance on working with teams, creating convincing presentations, and creating effective data insights. Reliability engineering spans hardware, software, human factors, systems, systems of systems, processes, and nearly every aspect of human endeavor to some extent.
What we do matters, and what we know and provide makes a difference. Reading and applying the knowledge within these books will permit you to be an effective, trusted, and valued member of any team.
What’s on your bookshelf? What do you recommend?