Many product development teams use a contract manufacturer (CM) to develop and manufacture their product. It’s the “develop” term that has limitations that may be unforeseen when engaging. Many companies use the CM to assist or even eventually entirely execute the product development. This can have great results or be problematic. But let’s talk about the arrangements that work well. Troublesome CM’s are a topic for a different time.
The Apex Ridge article series covers a diverse set of topics that relate to many of our reader’s work, interests, and experiences. The articles are inspired by industry experiences with the intent of sharing, educating and assisting you with your career challenges and growth. The content is targeted for a diverse audience with backgrounds even extending beyond engineering (Hmm talking to you project and business managers). My hope is that these topics inspire you to have discussions with your colleagues or right in the comments of the series. I look forward to seeing you on-line soon.
In many program cases I see teams “testing to pass” when they should be “testing to improve”. Testing to pass is putting your best foot forward. There is a “mark” and you are going to hit it so you can advance to the next stage. Testing to Improve is looking for defects and response to inputs. The motivation for each is very different. The risk for leaders is overseeing teams who view their role objectives to be in line with “testing to pass.”
Iideytinnfg pantrtes in dtaa is why we pforrem stsiattaicl aalisnys. It is not an ecaxt sicncee but iarmitofonn can be exeaaltpotrd eevn if the dtaa is nsoiy or inmptcolee.
The Rseaon Wuleibl asaynlis is ieeeptmnlmd as a tool is to look for pntertas and tehn cetare a charisotairceatn of a cmomon boeihvar. Taht charcoeatistairn can tehn be uesd to unsretadnd uocnpimg silimar pntarets. The raoesn you hvae been albe to raed tihs alirtce is beusace yuor biran fgriued out taht eevn tuhogh teh wodrs are samerbcld the frsit and lsat leettr and the wrod lgnteh areare corcert.
Uisng tihs prttean and the sceentne coxnett and rninaemig ltrtees and cmipanrog taht asnaigt yuor vbualrcaoy you can qulikcy dremtinee the menanig of the sectnnee.
It’s spimly a mteatr of aniaslys, pteratn chractrsaoietian, and tehn precdoitin by aiplnypg taht chariocatestrian to a new dtaa set.
Wlel Dnoe !
The challenges of keeping reliability at the resource and schedule negotiating table mid-program can be greatly helped by a solid effort to connect it to the business case when the product program is created.
It’s the ambiguity of how reliability makes the company money that makes the case in live negotiation so difficult. Everyone knows that reliability affects sales, marketing, warranty expense, future development. But how do you compare that to the urgency of time to market or cost point? If you, as the reliability representative, can point to a specific quantitative connection made to the business case for the product you have one.
So I wrote about how Mercedes has crummy reliability per Consumer Reports. I then threw a zinger at the end of the article saying I do have a Mercedes in the stable. So here is moment in time with her before we put her away for the winter last year. You will see the love/hate bloom and a benchmark with a 40 year old Japanese car. [Read more…]
Leading reliability efforts is a hard road. The resource required to improve reliability is significant. The resource to demonstrate reliability is gargantuan.
There are a few ways to demonstrate statistical confidence in reliability of a design. Each has it reasons for selection. here are three of my favorites [Read more…]
I recently came across this announcement that HP is going to develop computer systems and peripheral devices that are optimized for environments where they are cleaned frequently, often medical environments. In the medical and scientific fields cleaning solutions are a significant stress for plastics, inks and touch control surfaces. It’s a smart strategy to evaluate where your products are used and optimize your test use cases. It most often will lead to more accurate test results and reliability projections. It may, as well, lead to a market opportunity that was previously unknown, and if you are the first among your competitors to acknowledge this need and create a specialized or derivative product you now grabbed a portion of the market that you may have not previously held.
A few others
- laptops that are impact and dirt resistant
- Kids winter coats with glove attachments
- Sport tuned models of economy cars
- Stackable chairs
- Folding bikes
- Standing desks
I was asked “Do you know about Singularity design?” I hadn’t heard the term in that context before.
It’s the concept of not approaching design from multiple disciplines. The design process is done with an approach and knowledge base of all needed disciplines at once and in conjunction. The electrical system isn’t designed by an electrical team and the mechanical by a mechanical team. The “Design Team” designs both simultaneously. Team members knowledge might be rooted in one discipline but there is clearly no boundary to their knowledge of other disciplines. This would be a mechanical engineer who has designed a PC board before.
Intuitively, the emphasis in reliability to achieve a reduction in warranty and in-service costs results in some minimal increase in development and manufacturing costs. However, use of the proper techniques during the proper life cycle phase will help to minimize total life cycle cost (LCC).
To minimize total LCC, your organization should do two things:
The Plan: Saturday and Sunday was skiing in Vermont with the family, back Sunday night, everyone off to school Monday morning, then to the airport to get to Miami, Tuesday and Wed meetings down there, then fly out Wed night so I’m back to teach classes Thur and Fri here in Boston. Easy Peesie!
Actual: Finish ski trip feel a little “strange” on flight down to Miami, slight chills. Tuesday do meetings just barely, Tuesday night it hits like a freight train, The Flu, or Malaria, Aliens. On Wednesday the freight train had fully passed over me so it stopped and spent Wed backing up over me again. Thursday it went forward again over a pile of human jello. I’m not flying out for the clases on Thur and Fri, or anytime soon for that matter. Just getting home is my mission for the week.
Modular subsystems in a wheelhouse technology may or may not be a staple in your industry. There are some industries where they are not a standard practice and there are industries where without them, you can’t be a competitor. Of course there is everything in-between.
First let’s define what a modular subsystem is for this discussion. A modular subsystem is an assembly that is designed to be integratable into multiple products. For the automotive industry this could be a transmission. Each car model a manufacturer makes does not have a unique transmission design. There may be six transmission types that cover 20 car models.
I just came back from one of the best RAMS conferences I have attended (In my over 10 years of attending). I was fortunate enough to present a paper on “Balancing Reliability Goals in the Product Development Process”. The questions I received were great! The higher level management of how reliability integrates into product programs is the next big advancement for our discipline.
An executive asked me how to make a “perfectly reliable product.”
I told him that program would look a lot like an embarrassing market failure that could put a company out of business.
This was not the response he was expecting. I chose to elaborate before he just walked away.
The investment of time, dollars, and man power to create a “perfectly” reliable product would force such a compromise on all other aspects of the product and program that any type of market success would almost be impossible. I can only think of two types of products that could benefit from an approach of creating perfect reliability. The two I am thinking of are the Mars Rover ‘Curiosity” and a nuclear power plant. The desire for “perfect reliability” would be driven by either an avoidance of massive loss of life (not just a few lives) or loss of billions of dollars by a single failure mode.