Develop your skills – learn the tools and where to apply them
OK, let’s admit it. We don’t always make the best decisions. And of course, those around us don’t either. And yet, to deliver a product with all the best features to a customer or market, at a competitive price and in time to make the sale, and that also will have good reliability and long life, requires everyone to make the right decisions in a timely fashion all along the way. It doesn’t take many adverse decisions to introduce field issues, increase warranty claims and lessen product life.
Reliability management and engineering is all about using the best tools to guide our decision-making. Becoming a good reliability engineer, or decision-maker of any kind, is about learning those tools – including when and where to use them.
Teaching is not Learning
How do we develop the right skills? It surely isn’t by being taught only. How many hours have we spent in classes, and yet how much do we actually remember? (I’ll be honest here. Even though I have post-graduate education and have passed professional engineering exams, I have what I consider a poor memory. Learning by memorizing or learning by being told is not my forte.)
What I especially enjoyed about the Reliability Green Belt Program was the technical discussions with the teacher and participants
Tools need Context
I suggest that we need to understand the context of the tools we wish to use. I once had a professor from another university as a student in my Master’s program. He was intelligent, certainly. But when it came to understanding and using context in order to choose the best tool / method to apply to a problem, he could not “get it”. I believe that his understanding stopped where the written rule-set ended. His understanding stopped where the formal teaching stopped.
Tools need Practice
At another level, in order to learn, we need to apply and practice. Some learning requires hours and hours of practice – for example, playing the piano, riding a horse, and piloting a plane. Some learning needs practice in order to identify the gaps in understanding, in which case the teacher could be there to help the student through the gap. But maybe the first thing the student needs to recognize is that there is a gap? As an example, although Weibull data analysis is a powerful tool, the availability of computer software often simply allows us to make mistakes quicker. So, the first role of a teacher is to highlight the choices and decisions involved – and then to be available for the learner to check back. Who wants to apply hours and hours of practice, as with learning to play the piano? (OK, probably the wrong example. We have grandchildren learning right now, and it’s not always a pretty experience.) With Weibull analysis, we probably want to try for ourselves – and will appreciate guidance and review from an expert.
Reliability Green Belt includes hands-on FMEA – much more than a pre-prepared problem!
The Reliability Green Belt includes an extended session on FMEA. I have always thought of this method as being one of the simplest tools available for reliability improvement. Maybe you or I could think to read a short magazine article on the tool and have a clear understanding of how to do it. But isn’t over-confidence a common failing? FMEA can be covered in a training course in 30 minutes, or 5 days. I wouldn’t claim that after 30 minutes anyone would be a fully-fledged practitioner, but what would 5-days offer than 30 minutes doesn’t offer? I would hope that it would facilitate lots of time to work together, in small teams, on appropriate problem scenarios. Even better, I would hope it uses the pre-prepared problem scenarios as a prelude to facilitating the students in application of the technique to their own workplace problems. I have experience of taking FMEA to teams who master the pre-packaged examples quickly, but then surprise themselves when they find that their workplace problems require additional insight. Not surprisingly, we have probably read that effective FMEA requires a good facilitator – this is because FMEA requires more than “monkey see, monkey do” learning.
I have received value well above my expectations for the course, and with your instruction I was able to hit the ground running on the first day I got back
Tools need Mastery
The Reliability Belt program has only limited time programmed for the Reliability Green Belt and Reliability Black Belt – 5 days in each case. In each case, the several tools covered will have in-class exercises to allow the basic application. But we know that this is not sufficient and therefore the potential issues of each will be highlighted, so that the students will have waypoints as prompts for further study or to consult an expert. In particular, we believe that participants of the Reliability Belt program should have the resource of the Reliability Engineering Academy to help them. As the course leader, I offer my services to all participants for the following year, to mentor them in the application of what they have covered in the course.
Les, you were awesome. I found your analogies and examples of real world applications to be very relevant and helpful.
Reliability Belt is part of a Learning Process
The Reliability Green Belt is part of a process of learning. The certification is not an end in itself.
The Reliability Black Belt follows the same philosophy, and equally has follow-up mentoring. The Reliability Master Black Belt goes one step further and makes mentoring over a 1-year in-company project application of best-practice reliability techniques, as the teaching method itself – using contextual learning and application as the way to achieve deep learning. We fully anticipate that Reliability Master Black Belt engineers will extend learning to others in their company.
Reliability Belt Schedule
We held our first Reliability Green Belt in the USA in Boston in March 2018, to great accolade. Some of the students are so fired-up that they are already scheduled for our first Reliability Black Belt, to be run as an in-house course. We have our next Reliability Green Belt in San Jose in July 2018, and will be holding additional in-house sessions in the coming months. It really appears that the concept of the Reliability Belt program is meeting a need. A need for learning in reliability.