As 12%* of the CRE exam, this is a major section, yet not a very difficult one. There are three basic areas:
- strategic management
- reliability program management
- ethics, safety, and reliability
If you’ve ever needed to secure funding or samples for a reliability test or had to respond to customer field returns, then you probably already understand the value of reliability.
In some businesses, product reliability is critical to the product’s success. Some businesses strive to be the leading ‘reliable’ producer in the market.
*2009 ASQ CRE BOK
The overall positioning of the product, the investment and attention paid to creating a reliable product, and the overall importance of product reliability create the strategic approach.
It can be driven by customer expectations, regulatory requirements or simply the cost avoidance of returned products.
The reliability program is often simply part of product development.
The reliability activities often are one of the most expensive elements of a development plan.
A key to a great program is the inclusion of reliability considerations in nearly every decision. “Even the color of the product case?” – I was once asked incredulously. “Yes, even the color.”
Remember that reliability is quality over time. If the original color is selected for a variety of quality reasons, that color must remain over time and not change (oxidation, UV degradation, etc.) over time to something unwanted or undesirable by the customer.
While the product’s functionality may remain intact, the color change may prevent repeat business or even cause a product return.
Programs should set clear specifications, enable design decisions and tradeoff analysis, identify risks and provide meaningful feedback.
There is not one reliability program plan that works for every product, even from one product to the next within a single product family.
Use the information that is available and build the plan that both determines what will fail, and when it is expected to fail.
Ethics, safety, and reliability
The section on ethics, safety, and reliability highlights the interaction of our professional obligations and the connection between product failures and safety.
Overall, this section is mostly common sense.
Reviewing the materials and reflecting on how reliability is treated within your organization (and how it should be treated) may provide a solid grounding in this area.
Essentially, the guidelines and considerations remain the same, the application and details are different every time.
Reliability Management Terminology (article)
Reliability Management and Risk (article)