Make or Check Reliability
Chris and Fred discuss the difference between ‘making’ and ‘checking’ reliability. And there is a difference. This podcast follows on from Chris’s article about a US Department of Defense (DoD) quick reference guide on a ‘Reliability and Maintainability Engineering Body of Knowledge.’ The problem with this document was it was all about ‘checking’ reliability – and not enough ‘making’ reliability.
Join Chris and Fred as they discuss the difference between making and checking reliability. We sometimes confuse effort with outcomes. And many documents (like the one Chris references) only talk about ‘reviewing’ progress, generating ‘status report,’ come up with ‘test plans’ and so on. Not a lot about making reliability happen.
- Checking is not making. Of the 58 activities described in the quick reference guide, 57 activities were about ‘reviewing,’ ‘evaluating,’ ‘preparing documents,’ ‘verifying,’ and other keywords that are all about checking reliability. Nothing about making reliability.
- A list of activities is not a strategy. There are different strategies when it comes to reliability. And the strategy comes down to human beings. What do we want them to be good at? How do we train them? In that training, what key approaches that are specific to our organization do we want to embed? This means you need to sit down and think about how the users are going to interact with your systems.
- What happens when something goes wrong? When we have an approach which is based entirely on ‘review’ activities plastered over a Gant chart or other schedule diagram … what happens if something goes wrong? In practice, we can’t tolerate ‘do-overs.’ In this quick-reference guide, there was no allowance for something not ‘satisfying’ the review activity. There is in practice no time or money to redo stuff we thought we had already done well. So we muddle our way through it with concessions and all sorts of other mechanisms to wave away progress. What we actually want is to focus on making reliability happen by having design teams search for failures early in the design process. And this won’t happen if engineers a constantly preparing for the next project meeting they need to satisfy.
- Do you have any design guidance? Do you like the idea of ‘modular’ maintenance? … where we take out an entire subsystem that has a failed component and replace it with another subsystem that is designed to make this swap easy? How on earth can you provide guidance to make this happen – if the only thing you do is check on what has been done?
- … and engineers generally crave meaningful guidance. Not just waiting for you to tell them what they did wrong.
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