Reliability engineering is a subfield of systems engineering that focuses on making devices carry out intended tasks without fail. The built-in failsafe mechanisms make the systems “reliable” given certain conditions over a specified period.
Reliability engineering involves predicting, preventing, and managing potential uncertainties and failures. As such, reliability engineers have to go through a stringent process of reliability testing for their creations.
Reliability engineering is often applied when a customer buys a product. There is an unwritten acceptance that the product will fail after some time. The manufacturer ensures the product’s reliability with a warranty. So if, for instance, the product bought continually fails before the warranty expires, the manufacturer needs to rethink its reliability engineering process to prevent future failures.
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What Are the Objectives of Reliability Engineering?
Reliability engineering aims to answer these two fundamental questions:
- What will fail?
- When will it fail?
To address these, reliability engineers must:
- Apply engineering knowledge and techniques to reduce the occurrence of failure
- Determine the cause of each failure and make necessary adjustments to correct the issue or completely address the root cause
- Identify different ways to address failures should the root cause prove uncorrectable
- Do reliability estimations for new designs and continually analyze reliability data
These objectives must be addressed accordingly to ensure that reliability testing methods are done cost-effectively.
Why Is Reliability Engineering Important?
Reliability engineering means reaping the following benefits:
Increased Customer Satisfaction
When customers’ expectations regarding a product’s reliability are met, their satisfaction increases, which results in continued support for the commodity, including recommending it to others. When that happens, revenue growth proceeds without any hitches.
Shortened Repair Times
When a product suffers from unanticipated failures, manufacturers may take a while before these are resolved. Through reliability engineering, errors can be predicted and minimized from the get-go. Moreover, manufacturers can benefit from reducing operational downtimes, allowing processes to proceed without any disruptions.
Some devices need to undergo a burn-in process or exercise before being put into service. That is necessary to optimize system operations. With reliability engineering, the time required for burn-in operations can be minimized significantly, therefore shortening the gap between lining up products for production and reducing inventory costs and energy requirements.
Better Use of Warranty Periods
Reliability engineering ensures that products function without fail within a specified time frame, thus reducing after-sales service provision and returns, which can cost money in labor and materials.
Product failures can sometimes lead to injury or even loss of life. Aside from these, they can also lead to loss of property. Reliability engineering makes sure these risks are identified and minimized efficiently.
Overall, reliability engineering can minimize failures, enhance effectiveness, reduce repair times, streamline maintenance processes, and offer protection against injuries and death.