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Product Reliability Participants part 3
Product Reliability Participants within an Organization
T he last post in this series dealt with management in design, and the inf luence that leadership in design and
product development has on the product reliability process. T his post will turn to quality and reliability (Q & R)
engineers, again looking at the role of that position in relation to product reliability. T he next post in this series
will take a look at the role of quality and reliability managers.
Quality and Reliability Engineers
T he role f or quality and reliability engineers is of ten only limited by the individual’s initiative. T he f ocus is on
product Q &R and includes inf luences across the entire organization. T he design team requires advice and
f eedback to design a product that meets customer expectations. T he manuf acturing teams require insights
and measurements that enable stable and capable processes. T he procurement teams require knowledge,
guidance, and assistance when selecting vendors that will provide or improve supply of valuable materials.
T he Q & R engineer’s primary role can of ten be design or manuf acturing centric, of ten being associated with
perf ormance of statistical analysis and conduction of environmental stress testing and qualif ications. When
the f ocus turns to the product goals f or perf ormance in the hands of customers, then the scope of Q & R
engineers spans the organization.
A reliability engineer may begin with the creation of reliability predictions f or a new product design. T his is not
the only task expected though. An organization requires a reliability prediction to make decisions, inf orm
customers, and plan production, yet the organization also needs to know what will f ail and when it is likely to
f ail in greater detail to avoid or mitigate those risks.
Q & R engineers are in the business of identif ying and resolving product perf ormance risks. T his can be
accomplished once f ield f ailures occur or during the early design process. T he most successf ul engineers tend
to be proactive and work to avoid f ield f ailures.
Another essential role played by the Q & R engineer involves teaching, coaching, or mentoring members of the
rest of the organization to f ully consider the impact of their decisions on product Q & R perf ormance.
Transf erring the unique education and experience of the Q & R engineer to design, manuf acturing,
procurement, and other disciplines will greatly expand the ef f ectiveness of a single Q & R engineer. T he ability
of others to identif y risk, consider Q & R f ully during tradeof f decision making, and become aware of Q & R
goals and progress permits the Q & R engineer to ef f ectively inf luence an entire organization.
T he real test of the ef f ectiveness of an individual Q & R engineer takes place when that engineer leaves the
organization. If the product’s Q & R perf ormance declines, we may conclude that the organization did not
adopt and incorporate the breadth of reliability practices. If , however, the Q & R perf ormance remains stable or
continues to improve, the organization successf ully created sustaining business processes coupled with
suf f icient reliability engineering knowledge to continue developing reliable products.