Marketing and MTBF

A few weeks ago I was working on a report summary that included a reliability value at 5 years for a product. The document was intended for use with customers, so it was reviewed by Marketing.

Not too many changes, which was nice as I do not consider myself a writer and certainly not a marketeer. They did ask for one change that prompts this note. They wanted the 96% reliable at 5 years to be replaced with the (roughly) 2,100,000 hour MTBF value instead.

Naturally I balked and explained the meaning and clarity provided by using reliability. Even providing the calculations, formula, etc. All to no avail. So I asked why? (I hope you’re sitting down.) They didn’t want to confuse their customers with the reliability at 5 year value.

While I do agree two million hours does sound like a long time. And, saying that about 4% are expected to fail in 5 years is pretty clear that some will fail. I can do the calculation with the MTBF value and get the same conclusion that I wanted to present directly to customers.

After some discussion, we left in the MTBF and the reliability formula, just not the example of reliability at 5 years. Not sure how that helps the customers be less confused. Yet, I was glad to help.

I’m proposing that we have a short white paper or two on life data calculations and how to interpret MTBF. It seems that is what the Marketing folks want for the first impression for the customers and expect most won’t look further.

Site Traffic

On a different topic this little site is growing and increasing in visitors every week. We are nearing 10,000 visitors. About half the daily visitors are new and most are reading multiple articles and visiting a range of pages (according to Google Analytics).

Glad to see the interest.

Now, tell us what is working for you. How are you working to clear up any misunderstanding? How are you helping to eliminate MTBF from our work? Tell us about your successes and setbacks.

And, thanks for reading.  – Fred

About Fred Schenkelberg

I am an experienced reliability engineering and management consultant with my firm FMS Reliability. My passion is working with teams to create cost-effective reliability programs that solve problems, create durable and reliable products, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce warranty costs.

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