A common progression (stages of awakening) for an organization that has a minimal application of reliability tools to one that is large market holder with the right reliable product is often like this
Stage 1) “Reliability” testing is mostly re-labeled verification and validation testing. It measures if the design does what it is supposed to do at the end of the program. Tests are executed with the intent of passing, not learning about the product or it’s performance under variability. The organization experiences a large field failure surge due a single or multiple issues. The pain of this experience in dollars, market image, and lost resource through “recovery phase” awakens them to the high ROI of incorporating reliability tools early and throughout the product development process
Stage 2) Reliability tools and methods are put into the product program plan. A reliability engineer may be hired or education is offered to design engineers. Unfortunately a significant amount of the planned reliability tasks are truncated or postponed to later program phases that limit the possible impact of the tool outputs. Un-expected field failures still occur with this new product in the field. The failure rate is less and some of them were predicted in tests and analysis that was not influential in program decisions. An awareness that reliability tools do not have the correct weight in negotiations for schedule or resource occurs.
Stage 3) The weighting of reliability objectives for measure and improvement is better in the next product development program. The balance of priority between time to market, product cost, program cost, features, and reliability matches the original product specifications. Once in the field the product demonstrates a reliability in-line with the product goal
Stage 4) The reliability tools and process continue to evolve into efficient and integrated processes in product development. Analysis models are improved based on field observations. Test methods and tools are already
available for new products allowing for faster execution of reliability program steps. Other departments are familiar with the inputs and outputs to reliability and information flows freely between team members and departments.
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