How many reliability engineers does an organization need?
Or, one really good reliability engineering professional.
Or, an entire staff of highly talented reliability engineers.
The number of reliability engineers on staff really doesn’t matter. The outcome of your product and system reliability is not contingent on headcount or office space or list of degrees. Reliability performance is a function of the many decisions, large and small, that go into the design, development, manufacture, and operation of the item.
A reliability engineer doesn’t make all of those decisions if any.
Why hire Reliability Engineers?
There are two reasons to hire reliability engineers and neither directly improve your product’s reliability performance.
First, the reliability professional brings experience, tools, and techniques which allow your organization to:
- Set clear reliability goals,
- Identify reliability risks,
- Estimate future reliability performance,
- And, interpret test and field reliability data.
In essence, a reliability professional enables others within an organization to make informed decisions. They illuminate the often talked about yet vague world of reliability performance.
Second, the reliability professional can change the culture in your organization. By helping others make solid decisions, they take an important concept (reliability performance) out of the realm of vague objective, into reality.
As the engineers and managers in your organization realize the many benefits of considering reliability information to make decisions, they adopt a new mindset- an approach that seeks and uses the best available data and information to make decisions.
Should you hire more than one?
Maybe you should.
There is no guarantee that the sole reliability engineer will have the necessary skills to teach, mentor, and encourage those in your organization to make better decisions using reliability engineering concepts. Maybe the first hire will become overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks.
Suitable reliability performance doesn’t happen at one desk or meeting. It happens at every desk and meeting.
The ability of one person to influence decisions across the design and development team, the supply chain management and marketing teams, the maintenance and field service teams while possible are unlikely. A small team of reliability professionals can.
The best reliability engineering hire
Is not a reliability engineer, in my opinion. A good mechanical or software engineer can learn the necessary reliability engineering tools and techniques.
And, eventually, all of the engineering and technical staff will learn and use reliability engineering concepts such as goals and apportionment, risk identification, reliability modeling and data analysis.
The best hire for your reliability program is a person that has the ability to explain the benefits of making good decisions using reliability information. They may need
- to understand which tools to use to get started;
- to help find or create reliability information;
- to teach and encourage using reliability in every decision;
- to demonstrate making informed decisions.
The best reliability engineers I know do not have reliability engineering as a title. They did have a deep understanding of the concepts and a drive to enable and encourage others to do likewise.
If product reliability is important to your customers and your business, you need everyone in your organization to understand reliability engineering tools and concepts.
You need the entire staff to make informed decisions that lead to achieving the desired reliability results.
Success as a Reliability Engineer (article)
10 Ways to Find Reliability Value (article)