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Product Reliability Participants part 1
Product Reliability Participants within an Organization
An ef f ective product reliability process requires a strong team, at every level. T he team of employees within an
organization, that participate and impact product reliability, is a vast and widespread group of people. T hey
include members of the design team, design managers, quality and reliability engineers and managers,
procurement engineers and managers, warranty managers, f ailure analysis specialists, members of the
marketing and sales staf f , members of the f inance and manuf acturing teams, and f ield service and call center
staf f s.
T he next f ew posts will deal with each of these roles, and the connection each position has in relation to
product reliability. Some employees will have a much larger direct impact than others, but every participant has a
crucial role when working to create and produce a reliable product. We’ll start with the design team.
To a large degree the f inal perf ormance of a product relies on the skill of the product design team. T he
industrial, electrical, mechanical, and other design engineers attempt to create a product that operates as
intended, providing the f unctionality the customer expects. Successf ul designs do this elegantly, balancing
cost, perf ormance, time to market, and reliability along with a long list of other considerations, such as
sustainability, recyclability, saf ety, manuf acturability, and maintainability.
T he design team creates the solution that attempts to meet all the constraints. Most design engineers
intuitively understand that a product that f ails to f unction bef ore the end of the customers’ expected operating
duration is considered a f ailure. If a printer is expected to operate f or f ive years in a home of f ice environment
and f ails to print af ter two years, is has f ailed to meet the customers’ expectation of a f ive-year lif e. Design
engineers generally design to avoid f ailures. [Petroski 1994] T hey use their judgment and experience to identif y
design weaknesses and to anticipate use conditions and the possible adverse ef f ect on product perf ormance.
T he reliability role of design engineers is to make design decisions that provide an acceptable balance among
all the constraints and demands on the design along with the product reliability expectations. A key role f or the
design engineer is to determine and understand the risks to reliability perf ormance. T his role may include
perf orming f ailure mode and ef f ect analysis (FMEA) and HALTs, modeling, simulation, and prototype testing. It
is the design engineer who of ten understands the elements of a design with the most unknowns, the most
risk, and the least robustness. It is this knowledge that should prompt product testing, modeling, and
simulations to aid in understanding the design decision options and strike the right balance f or the f inal design.