Reliability from WWII
Chris and Fred discuss some of the things we have learned in the world of reliability directly due to World War II. Not many people know that around one third of today’s medical vaccines were developed out of necessity from World War II … and something similar happened when it came to making things reliable.
Join Chris and Fred as they discuss what role World War II played in the field of reliability engineering that we can still be thankful for today. It is not often that we go through a ‘history’ lesson in the world of reliability engineering, but in this case there is a lot to be learned about how to do things right (or wrong).
- The ‘Japanese Economic Miracle’ … which refers to the inexplicable rise of the Japanese economy after World War II. What happened? Japan turned into a manufacturing powerhouse that somehow managed to build products that were high quality, very reliable, and cheaper than ‘Western’ products. How did they do this? The allied forces essentially took control from the mid-1940s, and essentially allowed a technocratic domestic government to form. They poured money into the rebuilding of Japanese industry (in part due to fear of the ‘communist’ threat that a renewed Japan could perhaps buffer against). While the country received a lot of resources, this is no doubt a ‘Japanese-owned’ good news story. And most countries have been trying to catch up since.
- Let’s not forget electronics. Electronics (like the capacitors, vacuum tubes and resistors embedded within things like radars and radios) are infuriatingly non-intuitive. We can look at a broken transmission for a tank, and usually see what failed. We can also look at how dirty lubricants are, and have some idea about how long it will take before we need to replace it. We can’t do this with electronic components (at least easily). Nor could we easily understand how vibration might rupture solder joints. So we needed to create a more scientific approach that uses statistics.
- They also tended to put the right people in charge. Starting with the generals. And all the way down to the technical domains. Do you think a scientist like Oppenheimer would ever be allowed to be in charge of a project as important as the nuclear bomb in today’s military society? (the answer is no … we usually have the same ‘warfighting’ general, pilot or admiral in charge of everything). Funny how military projects are always late and over budget …
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