Someone had to do it

Take on MTBF, that is.

In a conversion with a colleague I mentioned the amount of traffic the NoMTBF site has been enjoying. For what started simply as a device for a discussion, the No MTBF movement has turned into quite an endeavor. We talked about the idea that unless someone starts and stays with the effort, MTBF will continue to erode the credibility of reliability engineering. We talked about the idea that unless we started the discussion to only use MTBF when it is proper to do so, that we would be plagued by the rampant misunderstanding and misuse for decades to come.

Gladly, more than a few of you have been quietly working to reduce the ignorance around MTBF and suggesting better ways to summarize and understand life data. Thank you. The idea started in a simple conversation borne out of frustration with how many people I ran across that didn’t understand MTBF nor how to use it. After talking about eliminating MTBF someone suggested I make campaign buttons – so I did and handed out thousands at conferences and meetings. After another rant on the topic someone suggested setting up a website, so I did. After collecting information and writing a couple articles, I added a regular blog. Now weekly it also includes other authors and a range of topics. The basic premise of reducing misunderstanding remains. Besides MTBF, you have experienced those confused about HALT and how to use the generated information. Or those that believe they can pass the HALT test. You have found those only turning to FMEA during failure analysis after products come back from the field. You have found and corrected bad data analysis, poor test planning, and many other common misunderstanding about reliability tools. As reliability professionals we study and learn about techniques that help us understand what will fail and when it will fail. We bring to the team understanding of failure mechanisms, design and testing techniques and the ability to prioritize and solve life limiting problems. We enable engineers to make informed decisions that help product and equipment last longer. It is our knowledge and our ability to teach, coach and mentor other engineers that makes us successful. It is the range of misunderstanding about reliability tools that we all face, that we all can work together to solve. One of the issues is the lack of basic knowledge about what we as reliability engineers do on a daily basis. So, here are a couple of ideas or suggestions for you to consider:

  1. Create an intro to reliability presentation that we can share, update, and use.
  2. Present reliability engineering success stories at gatherings of engineers (automotive, aerospace, plant maintenance, electrical and mechanical design, etc.)
  3. Share what we know is regularly misunderstood and steps to overcome the ignorance effectively.

Please comment and provide your ideas or contributions to move these recommendation forward. I look forward to your input as we arm ourselves to combat and eradicate MTBF, along with generally ignorance about a range of reliability engineering techniques.

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.

1 thought on “Someone had to do it

  1. As someone who, while not active in most of the the past discussions, still greatly appriciates them and watches/reads them with interest in an attempt to expand my own knowledge, I want to thank all of you wo continue this blog and continue to question the status quo… we are all the better for it…

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