High Temperature Environmental or Reliability Testing
Chris and Fred discuss the difference between ‘environmental’ and ‘reliability’ testing … but is there a difference? This question was raised by one of our listeners – which means this is a topical question. A question that could apply to you. Now some may seem that we are dodging the question in this podcast – because we think it is all about intent and not a category. That is – every test should be an experiment. It should be constructed to answer a question, or provide information for a specific decision. And once you focus on the information you are trying to provide – what is the point in classifying something as ‘environmental’ versus ‘reliability’ testing? Each test could conceivably be neither, one, or both. Listen to this podcast if you want to learn more.
Join Chris and Fred as they discuss what (if any) difference exists between ‘environmental’ and ‘reliability’ testing. Perhaps we should stop calling these things ‘tests,’ and start calling them ‘experiments.’ Why? Because experiments should be designed to accomplish something or answer a question. And if you are focused on classifying a test as reliability versus environmental – you may be missing the point. You need to learn and the do something with that information – not put a check in a checkbox.
- Decisions. You should never undertake a test or an experiment unless you have defined the decision you are trying to make. If you can define your decision, you should be able to define the information you need to make that decision. And that means you can design the efforts to provide this information. At this point … does it matter if it is a ‘reliability’ or ‘environmental’ test?
- Confusing effort with outcomes. If you don’t structure your test (experiment) or anything else you do, then you are just investing effort without even expecting outcomes. This is a recipe for failure.
- Are you simply after a ‘security blanket? Humans – particularly confused humans – often want to feel like they are doing something ‘good.’ If humans are confused, they don’t know what ‘good’ looks like. So pointless testing without any purpose can often give confused humans a good feeling that they are doing something. So it is the effort that makes people feel better – not the outcomes. Another recipe for failure.
- Well … its just a prototype so that failure doesn’t count. Really? Then why test it. If you are simply going to discount failure based on whatever criteria you set up – then don’t kid yourself that you are seriously interested in testing. You want that ‘security blanket’ feeling you get when you just do something. You want to hit the next design milestone. You are not really interested in making a customer happy.
- Well we aren’t sure that was a failure. We will just change the specification. Really (#2)? This probably means you don’t know what the customer wants. And if you don’t know what they want … how are you designing something that will sell. If your solution is changing the specification, then you may be creating a product that ‘you want to be done designing’ … not a product ‘that customers want’.
- But sometimes we want to just explore the product … and find out its weak points or what the customer wants. That is great! In which case a very general test where you are trying to find the boundaries of what will work. This is the question you are trying to answer! But … keep going until you find that boundary. Testing to pass it not testing to learn.
Enjoy an episode of Speaking of Reliability. Where you can join friends as they discuss reliability topics. Join us as we discuss topics ranging from design for reliability techniques, to field data analysis approaches.