Seeing Success Against MTBF

Since posting the article about the internal policy by Grundfos I’ve had a range of discussions concerning your efforts to eradicate MTBF. Very encouraging!

The comment by Mark on the Linkedin NoMTBF group prompted me to write about this information. Mark posted:

Imagine the shock today when I told a design team that I wouldn’t (couldn’t) hazard a guess about the future MTBF of a product based on testing 45 parts for 1,000 hours (with no failures occurring)?

YEAH! Go for it, keep the discussion going, encourage others to think, learn and understand reliability.

I also heard recently from a friend at a major rapid transit district that the team there was considering other metrics other than those related to MTBF for the first time. He also helped to get the discussion started.

And, I talked with a number of folks that would like to challenge those in their own organization, they just needed to know about the likely obstacles, alternatives to propose, and to fully understand what is wrong with MTBF. They were almost there and preparing for the upcoming discussions.

I’m listening to the audio book by Malcom Gladwell The Tipping Point and he points out that is often a little thing like one person’s action to cause major change. Often it is the little things that matter in the success of the change. I’ve been hoping with my articles, group discussions and blogs to influence all of our industries.  And, we are chipping away at the use of MTBF slowly. Success is occurring here and there.

Now, how do we move closer to a ‘tipping point’ as Galdwell describes? How do we influence hundreds of thousands of key decision makers in our industries? I would be great to have everyone become a steady reader of this blog and I do not suspect that will happen.

What I do expect to happen is through our various discussions and activities we find just the right folks in each industry that does spark the change away from MTBF. One way to help do this is to widely share these posts within your circles and networks, engage those in your organizations and industries with moving to metrics like ‘reliability’ rather than MTBF, and to start discussions about actually making the change.

At some point this core group of roughly 250 or so enlightened (you do see the issues around using MTBF which in my mind set you apart from the rest of our colleagues) will include just the right folks in our discussions. Just enough companies will move away from MTBF, just enough articles and datasheets will eschew MTBF, and just enough momentum will create a cascade of change.

I’m looking forward to that time. With your help and continued encouragement we can change entire industries.

Please comment here or let me know of your successes, or your questions, as you engage those around you in eradicating MTBF. What’s your story?

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.

2 thoughts on “Seeing Success Against MTBF

  1. Fred, To dismiss MTBF it may be required to develop simplified methods of applications of Bayes probability without hurting underlying principle. Right now not many are comfortable with Bayes theorem applications. Reliability is just not no failure during a “designed Test” there is lot ore physics involved in it. An effort to make a Taguchi Model type reliability Matrix may lead to meaningful results to kill MTBF. Of course physics should not go out of focus.

    1. Hi Raghu,

      If you know of better methods that are easy to accomplish and easy to explain – please comment or send me material for a full post and I’ll post your as a guest author.

      Yes, I know that we something easy to replace MTBF, that is why I recommend reliability R(t).



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.