#165 – INTRODUCTION TO DESIGN FOR RELIABILITY – FRED SCHENKELBERG

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The reliability of a product is strongly influenced by decisions made during the design process.

ABC FredThe key message here is reliability occurs at the point of decision. Each time someone makes a decision, selects a component, chooses a material, assumes a use profile, the eventual product reliability takes shape. Continue reading

#162 – WHY DO WE USE THE SUM OF SQUARES CONCEPT SO OFTEN? – FRED SCHENKELBERG

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ABC FredThe data analysis course professor tended to focus on the practical application of statistics.

Avoiding statistical theory was fine with me. Learning statistics for me was on how to solve problems, optimize designs, and understanding data. Continue reading

#161 – INTRODUCTION TO THE SIX SIGMA DESIGN APPROACH – FRED SCHENKELBERG

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ABC FredSigma, σ, is the Greek character we use to represent standard deviation. 6 σ represents the spread of data about the mean. For data with a normal distribution 6 σ includes 99.7% of the data.

The 6 σ design approach incorporates knowledge of the variation that will occur within the design such that the design has is unlikely to fail. Continue reading

#159 – IS YOUR OPERATION AT RISK? – JAMES KOVACEVIC

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JamesKovacevic300x400There are many internal & external pressures on our operations. Many we don’t even think about, or are even aware of. These pressures greatly influence our ability to be profitable, and therefore sustainable. Being aware of these pressures & barriers will allow us to head them off and ensure our profitability. Continue reading

#157 – SUPPLY CHAIN PROCESS CONTROL AND CAPABILITY – FRED SCHENKELBERG

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ABC FredIf you buy more than one of an item used in your product, you will have to deal with variability. In general, the variability from part to part is minimal and expected. Occasionally, the variability is large and causes reliability problems.

According to O’Connor and Kleyner, “The main cause of production-induced unreliability, as well as rework and scrap, is the variability inherent in production processes.” O’Connor, Patrick D. T. and Andre Kleyner. 2012. Practical Reliability Engineering. Chicester: John Wiley and Sons. Web. Continue reading

#156 – ELEMENTS OF WARRANTY MANAGEMENT – FRED SCHENKELBERG

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ABC FredWarranty is a part of doing business. Warranty management is not just the terms listed on the box.

Understanding the entire warranty process, along with your options, permits you to manage your warranty, rather than the other way around.

This is a short overview. Pieces of a warranty program occur well before the first product ships and may affect the company bottom line for years after you ship your last product. Brand promise, marketing, finance, customer service are not common areas for a reliability engineer. Yet, the impact of product failures tends to dominant warranty expenses. Therefore understanding the many elements around warranty management is essential for any reliability engineer. Continue reading

#154 – THE ENVIRONMENTAL TEST MANUAL – FRED SCHENKELBERG

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ABC FredLet’s say you run across a lightweight, inexpensive, easy-to-manufacture metal that you are considering for a new bike frame. Beyond the functional considerations of strength, size, and finish options what else do you consider?

Is it durable? If it fails, how does it fail (e.g., a shattering of a bicycle frame would not be good). You may also consider how the bicycle will be used and stored. What stress will the frame experience over its lifetime? Continue reading

#153 – PROJECT SPECIFIC RELIABILITY PLANS – FRED SCHENKELBERG

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ABC FredA project-specific reliability plan is a guide or roadmap for intended action. It is also a collection of specific tasks and milestones, enhanced with rationale to allow the entire team to fully understand its role in accomplishing the reliability objectives.

The plan is a way to achieve the desired business objectives. This means that the product must be reliable enough to meet customer expectations, minimize warranty expenses, and garner market acceptance. The plan is just a plan. It is the accomplishment of the tasks, the decision that improve the design, the signals monitored that stabilize the supply chain and assembly process that all make the difference. Continue reading

#152 – THE DERATING AND SAFETY MARGIN MANUAL – FRED SCHENKELBERG

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ABC FredDo you have derating & safety margin manual in your organization? Is it used regularly? If not, your organization’s products are likely not as reliable as they should be. You are shipping products that are not as robust nor as reliable as your customers deserve.

Derating and safety factors provide a means to select components or create design features that have sufficient margin to accommodate variation in use and strength over time. So why are these tools routinely ignored or given only fleeting attention? Continue reading

#151 – PRODUCT RELIABILITY DESIGN GUIDELINES: THE DESIGN FOR RELIABILITY MANUAL – FRED SCHENKELBERG

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ABC FredOne way to capture and disseminate reliability engineering related information and advice is through internal documents. This of course only works if they are both useful and used.

The focus should be on gathering and providing essential and meaningful information that will improve the reliability of your product. Another element that makes these design guidelines valuable is if they save time. Engineers love to save time. Continue reading

#150 – DO YOUR KPI’S ADVERSELY IMPACT RELIABILITY – FRED SCHENKELBERG

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ABC FredKey performance indicators (KPIs) are measurable values related to essential business objectives. A KPI provides a means to monitor the performance of a specific function.

In larger organizations, with sales & marketing, research & development, operations, supply chain, and other teams working to bring products to market, each department has a specific role. For example, the sales team engages with potential customers to assist with the customer’s purchase decision. The organization and the sales team may want to focus on sales growth or average profit margin as KPIs. Continue reading