You may have been tapped one morning and given the assignment. You may have pursued the role either via a university program or by simply applying for the position.
Now what? How do you start in this role? What are you expected to do?
Given the various paths to becoming a reliability engineer what your first steps may vary slightly. Plus, given the diverse nature of the organization culture and capabilities, you may have a different set of initial focuses. Let’s examine a couple likely situations and some ideas on getting started.
Assigned or Volunteered for the Role
Let’s say you have been an electrical engineer with experience in the design, manufacturing, and quality aspects of bringing a product to market.
You already know the company and products which provide a significant advantage over someone starting new to the team.
You may have an interest in the reliable performance of the product, yet may not have the deep technical skills of a reliability engineer, yet.
To start, determine the importance of product reliability for your customers and business objectives. This may a few discussions with business leaders, project managers, and market personal. The idea is to fully understand the value an increment of reliability improvement creates for a customer and your business.
Understanding how to connect reliability work to value provides a platform to determine which areas to improve and how to balance the reliability tasks with other business priorities.
Second, assess the current stated of the product reliability performance. Field data, call center data, failure analysis reports, defect tracking systems, and discussions with quality, customer service, and project managers all combine to provide an indication of the actual reliability performance.
The analysis step may require some education on life data analysis, basic reliability modeling, and failure analysis skills. This learning reliability skills as needed is just the start of what may become a career-long pursuit of information and improved skills concerning reliability.
Finally, assess and understand the reliability risks that currently and may exist in the future. The classics you may already understand include the new vendor, new material, novel design, or new manufacturing processes. In general, anything new is guilty of not being reliable enough until proven otherwise. One approach is to take the risk it is ok and let your customer decide. Another is to reduce the uncertainty with detailed risk assessment, modeling, and testing.
Step forward and repeat the above process. That is the basic process of being a reliability engineer. You will pick up and master reliability skills along the way.
To help with the urgent training/learning visit the accendoreliability.com site and view the Courses section for specific courses, or search the Calendar section which lists thousands of upcoming seminars, workshops, conferences, and meetings.
The University Path
At some point, you determine you want to be a reliability engineer and decide to obtain an advanced degree.
You will learn the tools and techniques with a touch of how it fits into an organization’s structure and needs. You will be skilled.
The part you do not have at the moment is working knowledge with the specific team and organization. So, start there. Learn about the organization, the products, and customers. This is common for any new hire to an organization. You have a lot to learn and understand.
The same basic steps outlined above apply, so as you meet your new colleagues, ask about the importance and value of reliability performance.
You may find immediate applications for your deep technical knowledge, yet hold back applying your skills until it is clear which tasks require attention now or those that can best be delayed a bit.
There will be petty of tasks to accomplish.
Keep in mind that by focusing on the critical few important tasks and doing them well will improve the reliability performance quickly. Second, focus on helping the entire team not only understand reliability and the many tools of reliability engineering, help them use the tools and concepts.
You are not the only one responsible for the reliability performance of a product or system.
Your colleagues across the organization also have key roles to execute, too. Enable them to make good decisions concerning reliability. Leverage your knowledge to enable the organization to meet customer expectations concerning reliability.
Success as a Reliability Engineer (article)