Reliability engineering has an image problem. It is seen as an imbugerance that destroys budget, schedule and fun. People sometimes think reliability engineering is simply statistics, data analysis and other mind-numbing stuff. Reliability purgatory. Which brings us to the first reason you need to do reliability engineering.
#1 - Reliability engineering is not reliability purgatory. Reliability purgatory is all effort and no outcomes. Reliability happens at the point of decision. Design decisions. Manufacturing decisions. Maintenance decisions. True reliability engineering helps you make better decisions – which often comes down to organized judgment and not statistics.
The second reason you need to do reliability engineering is to #2 eliminate problems – not just failure. We typically fixate on ‘failure’ when talking about reliability engineering. True reliability engineering prevents problems. Like manufacturing issues that force you to delay launch OR launch sub-standard products. Problems like finding out you selected the wrong material at the final design review. Getting tolerances wrong, having circuitry too close to hot exhaust manifolds and anything else that forces you to redo stuff is what true reliability engineering eliminates.
So true reliability engineering means #3 no complex expensive fixes. Thinking about reliability at the point of decision means you incorporate simple things that make robust designs from the start. And there are plenty of great tools to help you #4 quickly solve the VITAL FEW problems – and not the trivial thousands. Fixing the trivial thousands is over-engineering. Today’s customers and users are demanding smaller, lighter and ‘funkier’ things. Not over-engineered monstrosities.
Now this might surprise you – especially if you have had bad ‘reliability experiences.’ Reliability engineering means #5 happier people. When reliability engineering is baked into culture, you don’t have loud ‘infant managers’ berating engineers, designers, manufacturers and maintainers into doing the wrong thing fast (WTF). Any short-term cost and time saving quickly blossoms into those problems we talked about above. Then comes blame. Costs are incurred. Expenditure is cut to the bone. There is no money to innovate. Yuck.