Time Discussing Reliability
Chris and Fred discuss the idea of timing how long you spend talking about ‘reliability engineering.’ And by this, we mean conversation where you (1) proactively talking about preventing failures before they occur, and (2) in a way where something gets done about it (improving something)? Let’s say someone timed how much time your organization spent on this sort of conversation – would you be proud of the number you get?
Chris wants to create a ‘character’ or ‘person’ in some of his training courses. This character has a stopwatch that they start when someone talks about reliability engineering – where you proactively talk about preventing failures and then going and doing something about it. How much percentage of total talking time would this character work out you were spending on actually talking about reliability. And this spurred the following podcast.
- Reliability is our #1 priority. So our directors get involved when our customers have a major problem. Really? This is not reliability engineering where you prevent failures from occurring. This is crisis management. The reality is that our directors (as in, most important decision-makers) prioritize everything else over reliability before customers force them to get involved.
- And talking about solving yesterday’s problems doesn’t count. Spending time fixing things that have already been fixed is not reliable engineering. Neither is creating 46 tests to make sure that previous field problems no longer occur. Neither is working out how to blame the vendor, the schools, the government, the customer, the weather and so on.
- Neither is effort without outcomes. If you do hundreds of HALT tests, but don’t use the results to improve design (for example) – then this is not reliability engineering. This is reliability effort without any outcomes.
- But some really mature companies don’t spend a lot of time ‘talking’ about reliability. Why? Because reliability is embedded in every design decision. There is no way to separate out specific reliability discussions because it is part of every discussion. So our stopwatch only really matters for organizations who are working to improve reliability. You need to spend more time talking about reliability in a measurable way until you can’t measure it because it is the agenda. Or perhaps the stopwatch never stops.
- And we called the keeper of the stop-watch ‘Marvin.’ Not ‘Stan.’
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