Design for Failure

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This report discussed the concept of Design for Failure and uses consumer electronics as an example. It also discusses the environmental impact of this design type.

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Design for Failure

  1. 1. Operations_Management_Design _For_Failure_Reliability_Curve_E nd_of_Life_Types_Functional_De sign_Systemic_Consumer_Electr onics_Fragile_Hardware_Operat ion_System_Upgrade_Heat_Spar e_Part_Style_Programmed_For Failure_Ethical_Considerations_ Environmental_Impact_Resourc e_Depletion_Waste_Generation_ Recycling_Sustainability_Cultur e_Operations_Management_Desi gn_For_Failure_Reliability_Curv e_End_of_Life_Types_Functional_ Design_Systemic_Consumer_Elec tronics_Fragile_Hardware_Oper ation_System_Upgrade_Heat_Spa Design for Failure Operations Management Assignment [Pick the date] [Type the author name]
  2. 2. 1 Table of Contents Concept ............................................................................................................... 2 Introduction....................................................................................................... 2 Understanding from the Reliability Curve............................................................... 2 Types of Design for Failure ..................................................................................... 4 Functional Failure ............................................................................................... 4 Systemic Failure................................................................................................. 4 Style Failure ...................................................................................................... 4 Design for Failure in Consumer Electronics ............................................................... 5 Fragile Hardware ................................................................................................ 5 Unavailable or Expensive Spare Parts.................................................................... 5 Planned Life Cycle .............................................................................................. 5 Heat ................................................................................................................. 5 Style................................................................................................................. 5 Operating System Upgrade.................................................................................. 6 Environmental Considerations................................................................................. 7 Resource Depletion............................................................................................. 7 Waste Generation............................................................................................... 7 Greater Electricity and Water Consumption............................................................ 7 Cultivation of Unsustainable Culture...................................................................... 7 Bottom Line.......................................................................................................... 8 References ........................................................................................................... 9
  3. 3. 2 Concept Introduction Design for failure, also called as planned obsolescence, is when products are made so that they become dysfunctional after a certain period. You might find that after a single use, your printer ink cartridge cannot function even if it refilled. Planned obsolescence has potential benefits for a producer because the product fails and the consumer is under pressure to purchase again, either from the same manufacturer (a replacement part or a newer model), or from a competitor which might also rely on planned obsolescence. For an industry, planned obsolescence stimulates demand by encouraging purchasers to buy again sooner if they still want a functioning product. There is, however, the potential backlash from consumers who learn that the manufacturer invested money to make the product obsolete faster; such consumers might turn to a producer, if any, which offers a more durable alternative.[1] Understanding from the Reliability Curve Figure 1:0:1 Reliability Curve (Source) The above curve basically says that the rate of failure of any product is high initially; but after the infant mortality period, the rate of failure decreases. After this useful life, the material is bound to fail due to wear out. The material or component chosen is such that the expected end of life is as per the desired feature. The design of most consumer products includes an expected average lifetime permeating all stages of Material/compo nentschosen to have desired end of life
  4. 4. 3 development. For instance, no auto-parts maker would run the extra cost of ensuring a part lasts for forty years if few cars spend more than five years on the road. Thus, it must be decided early in the design of a complex product how long it is designed to last so that each component can be made to those specifications. Planned obsolescence is made likely by making the cost of repairs comparable to the replacement cost or by refusing to provide service or parts any longer. A product might even never have been serviceable. Creating new lines of products that do not interoperate with older products can also make an older model quickly obsolete, forcing replacement.
  5. 5. 4 Types of Design for Failure Functional Failure This is a type of technical obsolescence in which companies introduce new technology which replaces the old. The old products do not have the same capabilities or functionality as the new ones. For example a company that sold video tape decks while they were developing DVDs was engaging in planned obsolescence. That is, they were actively planning to make their existing product (video tape) obsolete by developing a substitute product (DVDs) with greater functionality (better quality). Associated products that are complements to the old products will also become obsolete with the introduction of new products. For example video tape holders saw the same fate as video tapes and video tape decks. Likewise, buggy whips became obsolete when people started traveling in cars instead of buggies. Systemic Failure Planned systemic obsolescence is the deliberate attempt to make a product obsolete by altering the system in which it is used in such a way as to make its continued use difficult. For example, new software is frequently introduced that is not compatible with older software. This makes the older software largely obsolete. For example, even though an older version of a word processing program is operating correctly, it might not be able to read data saved by newer versions. The lack of interoperability forces many users to prematurelypurchase new programs. Style Failure Marketing may be driven primarily by aesthetic design. Product categories in which this is the case display a fashion cycle. By continually introducing new designs and retargeting or discontinuing others, a manufacturer can "ride the fashion cycle". Examples of such product categories include automobiles (style obsolescence), with a strict yearly schedule of new models, and the almost entirely style-driven clothing industry (riding the fashion cycle) and the mobile phone industries with constant minor feature 'enhancements' and restyling.
  6. 6. 5 Design for Failure in Consumer Electronics There are tactics using which consumer electronics products are designed so that consumers purchase more frequently. Fragile Hardware Mobile phones fall down easily. But broken display glass and all damages from improper handling are not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. The dropper is reminded of his clumsiness every time he looks at the display (often the screen still works and only the glass is damaged). A consumer will replace his gadget much sooner when the glass is broken than when it’s not. Unavailable or Expensive Spare Parts After serving one a long time, a minor but crucial part of a device has broken, but the rest of the device works fine. The customer service tells that the required spare part isn’t available anymore and that the service for that device has been discontinued. This forces the consumer to buy a new device. The producer generally makes more profit by selling new devices than spare parts. Producers have found a solution to this dilemma: totally overprice spare parts. Repair costs of electronics are so high that often it isn’t worth getting them repaired. The best option is replacement. Repair companies also generally charge fees for cost estimates. That adds to the notion that customers don’t even consider repairing their electronic gadgets. Planned Life Cycle Certain products have their software programmed in such a way that they will stop functioning after some time. Heat Heat is an enemy of electronics. The more the hardware is exposed to it, the faster it degrades. An example of planned obsolescence in product design is the placement of heat-sensitive capacitors in the hottest area on a circuit board, next to the heat sink. So basically, the worthiest of protection is put in the danger zone. These devices will fail sooner than others which are better designed. Normal customers don’t base their buying decision on circuit board design, and normal customers will replace their PC when it becomes unstable. Style Style obsolescence happens when the gadget works totally fine and the only flaw is that it isn’t popular anymore. The customer who doesn’t want to be unpopular will buy a stylish new gadget. That’s because, unlike hipsters, having popular gadgets will make a customer feel popular. Marketers employing style obsolescence are able to set new trends (so customers can buy more popular gadgets) and kill old trends (so customers notice that their gadget is outmoded and therefore consider getting a newer one).
  7. 7. 6 Operating System Upgrade Many android smartphones providers do not provide an operating system upgrade. They would want their consumers to buy the latest smartphones to own the technology. This frustrates the normal users. The lure of advanced technology creates an urge for repeat purchase. But there are some players such as Apple which gives upgrades by itself since it doesn’t want its consumers to switch to another player. And also there is Microsoft that ensures the upgrades are passed on to the consumers. Such companies do not use this element in their design for failures. [3]
  8. 8. 7 Environmental Considerations Resource Depletion The quicker a product fails, the quicker we need a new one, and the more resources are needed. If the product is not recyclable then it adds even more to the environment. [4] Waste Generation If something is made to fail, it usually gets thrown away and ends up contributing to the ever-growing worldwide waste. There is the need for sustainable recycling process in place that will ensure that stress doesn’t develop in the environment. Within the consumer electronics space there is a development of metal extraction facility. The diagram below shows the process in India. In India, typically two to three metals are extracted out of 19 whereas globally 13 are extracted. [5] This way a lack of technology for recycling in case of design to failure can have immense environmental ramifications. Figure 2:1 Consumer Electronics Recycling in India Greater Electricity and Water Consumption The more we need to manufacture, the more energy and water we use. We know the share of renewable energy within the global energy mix is meagre. Hence, this technology has further environmental repercussions. Cultivation of Unsustainable Culture The idea that something can be used, abused and thrown away only acts to perpetuate an unsustainable, disposable mentality in society, and will take a lot of effort to undo. We all have started observing this in use of quite a few everyday items. Absence of sustainable waste management and recycling practices can lead to increased strain on the environment. Rest of the PCB is burnt or discarded Using electrolysis, gold and silver and other metals are extracted and reused Chunks of aluminium and other metals are manually removed and sold Dismantling for obtaining printed circuit board
  9. 9. 8 Bottom Line From a business strategy point of view, design for failure can work wonders for the topline growth. The product by design can itself trigger repeat purchases thus increasing the revenue. There are certain industries that are built on design for failure concept. Textbooks and fashion industries are such examples. The every nature of these industries make design for failure acceptable to the end consumers as staying up with the latest is of prime importance to them. This can, however, spawn a backlash against the companies that use this philosophy. The consumers may think that it is a form for blackmail for them to repeat purchase. This can question the ethical standards of the company. But if the entire industry consolidates and adopts this practice, then consumer may be left with no option. However, some company might not adopt this design for failure philosophy as a product differentiation strategy. Such a company can eat into other players’ market share. We have seen that this technology can have great environmental repercussions. There needs to be development of recycling capacity so that environment damage can be checked. To have an effective and sustainable recycling facility there is a need for proper development of reverse logistics as well. This will ensure a sustainable business model reducing the ethical and environmental issue.
  10. 10. 9 References [1] http://www.r2launch.nl/index.php/lifetime/planned-obsolescence [2] http://www.eventhelix.com/realtimemantra/faulthandling/reliability_availability _basics.htm#.UxsoqfmSyNA [3] http://listverse.com/2013/04/02/10-ways-products-are-designed-to-fail/ [4] http://msc-technology.wikispaces.com/Planned+Obsolescence [5] http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-02- 12/news/31050322_1_recycling-informal-sector-metals

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