A complex production process requires a mixture of leadership, governance and management. In this article, we’ll discuss a tiered meetings structure that can effectively enable this. Empowerment, escalation paths, accountability and responsibility are included as some key ingredients. We’ll start with the following diagram:
Why Parents Make the Best Reliability Engineers
I am a parent of two young children. As a result of my experiences as a mom, I feel that parents make great Reliability Engineers because there are so many shared skill sets. Please enjoy this lighthearted comparison to start your week out with a little humor.
First, I have to point out the development of a brand new Reliability Engineer requires the same skills of lubrication and vibration that the conception of a child requires. [Read more…]
The Role of Reliability: The Conscience of the Plant
If a manufacturing plant was a human brain: Maintenance would be the repairing blood flow, Operations would be the electricity sparking between synapses, and Reliability would be the conscience. [Read more…]
Enabling Customer Value in Product Design
Use an Integrated Approach in the Product Life Cycle Process to Enable Customer Value
Given our primary goal of developing a profitable product, our objective in the design process is to maximize customer value and minimize cost. From a financial analysis standpoint: we pursue products with the highest possible margins (ie. charge the customer “as much” as possible, and make the product for “as little” as possible). Of course we also want to sell “as many” as possible. [Read more…]
Enabling People, Processes and Product Development
Clear roles and responsibilities for project managers and team leaders can significantly improve alignment of skillsets and overall teamwork
A generally accepted principle for a successful business is great people, processes & products. This can be further simplified as “maximizing customer value and minimizing cost” of the product.
Consider the following:
- An excellent product development process should ensure maximum customer value while product cost is minimized
- Process improvement minimizes (or reduces) costs across the enterprise
- Project management ensures execution of product development, or process improvement products
How to Shine in any Interview
How to Shine in any Interview — Me at My Best! Stories
It was 7:15 am. We had just finished up our morning kick-off meeting for our lab staff at the generating station, which was about to start-up following a planned outage. Mary, one of the senior lab technicians, came frantically into the lab from the plant.
“We have a problem! The circulating water pH meter is reading a 3.0!” Mary
My heart started racing. [Read more…]
How to Find Your Purpose as an Engineer
Engineers, You’re Doing It Wrong!
When you woke up this morning, how did you feel? Was it giddy excitement for what the day ahead holds? If not, then you are likely not living your purpose. Not pursuing your life’s work.
For me, the idea of pursuing my life’s work became exponentially more important in 2013. Over the past 3 years, I had gotten married (yay!), became a mother to my husband’s 5 year old son (double yay!), had a daughter (triple yay!), lost my mother to 5 year battle with lung cancer (tears! lots and lots of tears!), and become pregnant with a baby boy (due January 2017!). [Read more…]
Ten Second Tease – 3 Methods for Crafting the Ultimate Elevator Speech
How to build the ultimate Ten Second Tease
So you’ve probably heard of elevator speeches before. You know, a speech that you could blurt out if you had 20 seconds on an elevator with someone. In theory, this should give someone an overview of what you do.
Let’s be real here, shall we? Most people don’t care about your elevator speech. When introduced via a typical elevator speech most people have already zoned out and are thinking about the best route to the snack table. Admit it – You do this too!! If you use those precious few seconds of introduction to rattle off a resume you’ve wasted an opportunity to make a memorable impression.
You know what else no one cares about?? Your job title. The majority of the time, job titles do not tell you that much information – especially if the person is working in a different industry. So sharing your title alone does not really do much to pique the interest of others. It is often the starting point, but do not get lazy and think this is the end of it.
Also, no one wants to hear a speech. People do NOT want to be talked TO. Booooooorrrrring! They want to talk WITH interesting folks. So let’s not think of it as a speech or a chance to lecture someone on what you do, ok? Ok!
Instead, shift your thinking to the goal of the elevator speech. When someone says you, “So, Tell me about yourself,” think of it as an opportunity to hook them. Make them curious. Make them ask more questions. The purpose of your elevator speech should be to entice the other person to want to get to know you. THIS, my friend, is how you make an impression. And THIS is why I like to call it a Ten Second Tease.
The Need to Improve the Reliability Narrative
Little Compromises and Future Costs
In a recent Seth Godin blog, Counting beans he talks about the eventual costs of little compromises. The immediate benefit may be celebration worthy, yet
But overlooked are the unknown costs over time, the erosion in brand, the loss in quality, the subtraction from something that took years to add up.
This certainly applies to reliability as well. Deferring maintenance just one more month, addressing one more software bug can be done after shipping, and similar small shifts erode reliability of your system. [Read more…]
When Management Doesn’t Listen
A Bloomberg articles details the Takata airbag recall series of events. The line that caught my attention is:
…company documents suggesting that Takata executives discounted concerns from their own employees and hid the potential danger…
“Sixty Million Car Bombs: Inside Takata’s Airbag Crisis”, Susan Berfield, et.al. Bloomberg Business Week, posted June 2nd, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-06-02/sixty-million-car-bombs-inside-takata-s-air-bag-crisis
There are other examples where management doesn’t seem to listen when engineers raise concerns. Have we cried wolf too often? Has management gotten used to taken risks as a good business practice?
At times reliability risks are real and need to be clearly communicated. Let’s talk about how you can effectively get the message across. [Read more…]
The Fundamental Set of Reliability Engineering Tools
In a single meeting, you may need to structure a reliability model, create estimates, outline test plans, and discuss a field failure. The breadth of tools and knowledge to be effective is staggering.
No two problems, questions, situations, or industries are the same. Thus, the solutions you provide must differ as well. If you enjoy a complete set of reliability engineering tools at your disposal, you are well situated to address any question.
Common Sense Essentials to Great Design
Guest Post by John Ayers (first posted on CERM ® RISK INSIGHTS – reposted here with permission)
There are many design rules of thumb I have heard over the years. For example: KISS (keep it simple stupid); make it idiot proof; be realistic with tolerances; do not make assumptions that are not realizable (zero gap for instance); and many more. The most important rule of thumb I have experienced is “common sense”. To illustrate my point, I have a few examples that are below. [Read more…]
5 Books for a Professional Reliability Engineer
A part of the preparation for the ASQ CRE is experience and education. These, in my simple way of thinking, means applying what you have learned to solve problems and provide value. Reliability engineering is about two questions: [Read more…]
Diverging from reliability statistics for a post or two, let’s consider one way which R(t), reliability at time, t, is useful during the design phase of a product. Apportionment is the breakdown or allocation of reliability goals or objectives to elements within the product.
Overall, the product’s reliability is just one number, and it represents what the customer will experience with the product. During design, we often work on subsystems and components. Having a meaningful way to describe the reliability requirements that also assists the team to meet the overall product goal, is, well, useful. [Read more…]
As 12%* of the CRE exam, this is a major section, yet not a very difficult one. There are three basic areas:
- strategic management
- reliability program management
- ethics, safety, and reliability
If you’ve ever needed to secure funding or samples for a reliability test or had to respond to customer field returns, then you probably already understand the value of reliability.
In some businesses, product reliability is critical to the product’s success. Some businesses strive to be the leading ‘reliable’ producer in the market. [Read more…]