Speaking of Reliability
Let us address your reliability engineering questions. Gain the experience of your peers and accelerate the improvement of your program and career.
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HALT Versus ALT
Chris and Adam discussing HALT and ALT. What are these? HALT stands for Highly Accelerated Life Testing. ALT stands for Accelerated Life Testing. They sound very similar. But they are not. HALT is a destructive test regime. In fact, a good HALT plan will involve that product failing many times. This is done by subjecting the product to stresses (vibration, thermal cycling et cetera) well beyond actual operating stresses. Some of the failures this creates will not be relevant. That is, they will simply never occur when the product is used ‘normally.’ But many failures are relevant. And by undertaking HALT, we now have a good idea of which failure mechanisms and modes are likely to occur when it is used normally. And this information is incredibly valuable to a design team. ALT on the other hand starts with a failure mechanism you know about. And in a short period of time, you can predict how long that failure mechanism will cause your product to fail when used normally.
Still confused? Well listen to this podcast.
Reliability Security Blankets
Chris and Adam discuss ‘reliability security blankets.’ What are these? These are things that people or organizations do to give the illusion of ‘achieving something to do with reliability’ primarily to make them ‘feel’ better. Reliability security blankets tend to have little positive benefit. When we are focused on a feeling of ‘reliability goodness’ we quickly try to find the easiest way to get that feeling. Which leads us to standard or outdated methods, non-critical thinking, or (worst case) tests that are structured to ensure a system or product passes. Resources are sucked away from good reliability activities to create these reliability security blankets. If you think this applies to your organization, listen to this podcast.
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A Brief History of Reliability
Chris and Adam discuss a ‘brief history of reliability.’ There are many significant milestones in the history of mankind. The dawn of the iron age meant that instead of having tools that lasted a matter of days, humans could (in a very short period of time) create tools that lasted several human lifetimes. The Industrial Revolution of the 1800s taught us that we could ‘over-engineer’ a device so that it would last longer than its ‘useful life.’ There are many more different milestones and events that have defined reliability over time. And these have shaped how we deal with product and device reliability today. Learn more by listening to this podcast. ᐅ Play Episode
Dealing with the Occurrence of Failure
Chris and Fred discussing how different organizations deal with failures. Failures are a ‘bad’ thing in that a system doesn’t do what you hoped it would. But what about failures that occur during the design or production process? This is different. If you have scope to improve your system, then failures that you can analyze in a laboratory or test bed are invaluable. They, more than any other event, will help you understand the vulnerabilities of your system. And you must actively seek vulnerability to improve reliability. But if you are looking for failures, you must first admit that your system is vulnerable. And that is difficult for many people to do.
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The Recent Soyuz Rocket Failure and What We Can Learn
Chris and Fred discussing the recent Russian Soyuz rocket failure. With the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet, the Soyuz rocket and spacecraft are now the only viable way to launch humans into space. The 1960s Soyuz rocket propels the 1960s Soyuz spacecraft into orbit … and to be clear it is only the rocket that failed. The Soyuz spacecraft successfully aborted the launch keep the crew safe. The Soyuz rocket has long been the yardstick of rocket safety – it easily has the most impressive reliability track record. But should this recent failure change that perception? And how can the Soyuz system still be operating when other programs have come and gone, primarily due to safety and reliability? This podcast attempts to answer some of these questions.
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