The Design for Risk Idea
Yesterday had the chance to review the long list of Design for X topics. Assembly, environment, maintainability, and of course reliability, plus about a dozen other areas of focus. How is a design team to navigate all these different sets of constraints and objectives along with crafting a solution that works?
With a little creativity, you could relate every Design for X topic to reliability. Easier to assembly, fewer assembly errors leading to field failures, for example.
Another way to think about the Design for X space is to consider a superset instead. What are all these design considerations really about? What is common, including the design for reliability topic? With a little thought, it seems clear to me that we all are really considering how to identify and manage risk.
Design for Risk instead of Design for X
At the heart of every ‘design for… something’ is an attempt to avoid uncertainty. By exerting conscious effort to consider a set of considerations or constraints, the design process attempts to avoid the downside of missing something deemed important. Or, they are attempting to include features and capabilities to enhance a product.
It is uncertainty or risk we are actually trying to manage when implementing a ‘design for… ‘ program. Design for assembly may aim at reducing scrape and assembly errors. Design for reliability may focus on achieving a specific set of field reliability performance goals.
If a design team does not focus on DFX, a level of uncertainty around assembly, reliability, etc still exists it just may not be actively considered and mitigated.
Thus, here’s an idea. Instead of picking a few Design for facets to consider, just design for risk. Understand the full range of risks in the current situation. Prioritize and work to reduce the salient risks to your product’s design.
Do We Still Need the Various Design for X Approaches?
No, we don’t need specific design for … programs. The basic idea is to simply identify the full range of risks facing the specific product now, then work to eliminate or mitigate those risks.
Instead of selecting Design for Reliability as a focus at the start of a program. Start instead with an assessment of risks facing the development of products today. This may include the risks involved in hitting reliability performance targets, yet it may involve assembly or supply chain risks. A full risk analysis will guide the team to minimize risks from the full range of potential risk sources.
By framing the focus on reducing risk the process encompasses all of the design for x concepts. You may need to employ specialize knowledge germane to a specific design for x, and you may need to address risks in many different areas of focus.
The Design for Risk Framework
With 20 plus design for x areas of potential focus, limiting to just one or a few increases the risk involved with all of the other areas. By focusing on design for risk, you have a framework to address risks for any design for x issue.
The idea here is simple. Broaden the search for what is a threat to a successful product. Reliability one area, as are many others. Focusing on the most important risks will lessen the risk to the product’s success, and may even improve the reliability performance as well.