Reliability happens when you become impatient and selfish

I often start teaching my reliability engineering courses … by focusing on other reliability engineering courses. Why? Because they exemplify what is wrong with how most ‘reliability experts’ go about convincing others to take reliability seriously.

A typical reliability engineering course will start with images of disaster. A Chernobyl here. A Fukushima there. A crashed aeroplane. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Lots of other atrocities that happened when we didn't do reliability engineering properly.

Reliability engineers might even talk about slightly more relatable things like company reputation. Quality. Customer expectation. Emerging technology. User demands.

The problem with all this imagery is that it is abstract. The disasters are rare enough for them to not be tangible outcomes of everyday design decisions. The catastrophes are the combination of tens or hundreds of bad decisions that make it difficult to understand how a single individual contributes to them. And things like brand reputation are great for the shareholders of a company … but what does that mean for my annual bonus when my boss looks at the hydraulic system I designed?

Reliability happens when you become impatient and selfish. And that means everyone in your organization realizes the tangible benefits of reliability that you start reaping from day one.

Reduced production costs … starting now

A common refrain is that …

… you can choose any two of ‘fast,’ ‘cheap’ or ‘reliable.’