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In the late 1970s, Hewlett Packard was scoring very highly on its quality assurance compliance. It also received multiple 'quality awards.' But on closer inspection, it realized that around 25 per cent of its manufacturing assets were being tied up with rectifying defects, faults and failures.

They had no idea how bad things actually were.

A sample "reliability curve" graph, showing the calculated reliabilities of components and systems over time.

This realization spurred Hewlett-Packard to create a Reliability Program. Dubbed the '10 X' project, their goal was to reduce failures by a factor of 10 over 10 years. They almost got there (the failures were reduced by a factor of 8). But regardless, their project was a great success.

But the first step that Hewlett Packard needed to take was an honest appraisal of where it was at organizationally. A similar epiphany occurred at DuPont in 1986, and many other organizations that have since become world leaders in reliability and availability performance.

Most organizations that have not seriously considered reliability principles in management are either regressive or reactive (as indicated in the image above). Neither is good. In fact, reactive organizations that have a 'culture of fighting fires' will often glorify the often heroic deeds of front-line staff to solve problems as and when they occur. Field repair departments can often be huge. This normalization (or in some cases glorification) of reactivity can create 'organizational endorphins' that fool the management into thinking they are performing at a high level. When in fact they are not. They are losing money without even knowing it.

Acuitas can help you conduct an assessment of your organization. This includes:

  • On-site surveys of staff at all levels and functions.

  • Observation and review of business processes.

  • A summary report of where your organization is at in terms of "RAM Best Practice."

Whenever you plan a journey or map out a route, you need to know where you are starting from. This applies to improving your reliability practices and performance as well.

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