History of Reliability Part 3
Chris and Fred continue the discussion on the history of reliability engineering. The discussion started with Chris and Adam (you can click here to listen to it) and kept going with Chris and Carl (and you can click here to listen to it). Between all of them, they came up with 8 reliability engineering epochs. Now it is Fred’s turn to work out what has been missed, and what all of this means what reliability engineering looks like in the future.
Join Chris and Fred as they discuss the craftsmen period
- What did Fred think was missing? The use of reliability engineering statistical tools is getting worse and not better … even though we have more tools to do it. Fred pointed out in Chris’s recent webinar on probability plotting (click here if you are interested more!) that some of the attendees probably didn’t even know we could do this sort of stuff by hand. While people in the 1960s and 1970s were doing all these things on paper – they were learning about the underlying statistical process. But with today’s software tools you can put data in and get an answer. But the cost of doing this is not knowing what the process means.
- Is this an epoch in its own right? Maybe this could be referred to as a dark age? But it is a real thing. Today’s academic papers and conferences are not illuminating or useful anymore. Compare this to Wallodi Weibull’s original 1952 paper which is very important, but very simple. The writing style is something we don’t see anymore.
- And how is this affecting us today? We are still using basic approaches and techniques that were developed in the 1950s and 1960s – which have inherent limitations because they were developed without computers. But we still use these basic approaches because they are embedded in software. Which means we don’t need to think about the problem to get a number. So we are in a weird place where everyone either uses terribly ancient statistical equations OR we use ridiculously complex models developed by universities with minimal applicability.
- Anything else? Yes. Reliability engineering is tending to lose the ability to talk. Weibull’s paper is very simple – but the way we present to each other and our organizations involves a lot of jargon and academic arguments for other academics. Does this mean we are losing relevance? Which means we must re-gain the ability to understand our audience. Perhaps.
- Anything else #2? Because there is less talking, we are naturally more guarded. Which means that it is now commonplace to try and avoid even reliability engineers talking about failures. So we don’t admit or talk about failures in tests. And we don’t talk about it between organizations. So as opposed to ‘all ships rising with the tide’ the openness needed for the entire industry to eradicate entire families of failures is no longer a thing.
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