5 Ways Reliability Was Important to Me Today

5 Ways Reliability Was Important to Me Today

Andrew J. Cosgriff, we could live in hope
Andrew J. Cosgriff, we could live in hope

I suspect reliability of the products and services in your world plan an important role in your day to day existence. For me, maybe I just pay attention to reliability, yet today in particular I tried to notice when things were just working as expected.

Rather then consider everything that touched my life today, I’ll narrow this down to just five.

Coffee Maker

The morning would be very different if the coffee maker didn’t work. We have maybe three or four backup methods to make coffee, counting camping gear, yet no backups today. In fact it has been about 3 or so years since this coffeemaker found a spot on the counter.

It does make a pleasant sound as it drains the water reservoir signaling the coffee is ready. The machine does require a bit of maintenance, replacing a filter and a good cleaning every now and then, yet it just works. And, that is a very good thing.

I would say our coffee machine is reliable.


The refrigerator is pretty standard with a freezer and regular sections. It simply keep things cool. I do not recall that last time we adjusted the thermostat (not since first week of it being installed).

It’s quiet. Fairly energy efficient and even reminds us (soft beeping sound) when a door is left open too long. It automatically defrosts, or doesn’t create frost build up. I’m not sure since haven’t had to deal with defrosting.

It just works and we rarely (well we don’t) think much about it. It just works.

I would say our refrigerator is reliable.


Ok, this is really three things, yet they all work together to keep us connected to friends, family and colleagues. The computer and our internet connection provide information, entertainment, and work. The computer has two backups one on site (under the desk) and one off site (Back Blaze). It’s not that I don’t trust my computer, it’s the hard drive and my own errors, that I fear. Plus, computers do fail taking all the data along. Past experience suggests I regularly create backups.

The internet cable was cut by a falling branch a few weeks ago. We were off line for most of a weekend. It was not fun as we resorted to paper and pencil to list what we wanted to look up or check when finally back online.

We did enjoy a nice dinner though.

We use our computers long and hard each day. We expect a lot from them and generally keep the machines for about 5 years before replacing them. They tend to work well and we’ve learned to count on their operation. Sure issues come up, we occasionally have to do some maintenance, yet nothing major.

Email – that just works. Mostly. On occasion one or another of my servers will be offline. Given I have about a dozen emails through various servers, I get get messages out, it just the not receiving that is an issue. Generally the outages are brief, and maybe I should learn to batch my email periods. I’ve heard that would be good for productivity.

I would say the computers/internet/email are kind of reliable. Maybe we expect too much from these amazing systems.


Not sure if it’s availability or reliability or a mix, yet when I went to my car today to run a few errands. It started (availability) and successfully helped me travel to and fro (reliability) about town to efficiently complete my errands.

That car is more complicated than any other item in my life, not counting other humans, and it works, and keeps on working. Sure, an oil change and tire rotation every now and then, yet it keeps on working.

I keep cars for a long time, maybe 10 years. This last one was to upgrade my tape deck sound system for one with Bluetooth. The old car was fine and running well. I just wanted to upgrade the sound system and decided a new car would achieve that process.

The car (a Toyota Highlander hybrid) is pretty much taken for granted. Although we did renew our AAA (roadside assistance insurance) today, too. While the car is reliable, it isn’t immune to breakdown or accident, so we’re prepared.

I would say the car is reliable.

Wine cork

We opened a bottle of wine to have with dinner. I don’t often think about the reliability of the cork, yet when they go bad it can ruin the wine (the failure mode is called ‘corked’, I think, and it’s not pleasant). The cork we pulled tonight was fine as was the wine.

The cork generally doesn’t have to last long as the wine we enjoy is generally less then 5 or so years old and often bottled within a year or two. Some corks have to protect the wine for far longer. The corks do better when kept moist by the wine, so we store the little wine we have on it’s side, just to avoid drying out the cork.

I would say the cork we pulled tonight had worked reliably.

Backups Galore!

My first thought with this article was to write about the many everyday items around us that work reliably. We take so many products and systems for granted. From water to power, from entertainment to transportation, from communication to kitchen tools. Each one should just work. Each should provide value, serve it’s function reliably over time.

I’m not pulling out manuals, specifications or checking manuals. I expect this equipment to just work. Guess I’m luck it mostly does just work.

What I found with this short articles surprising was the number of backup systems I have in place. Each is a slightly different, yet generally fits my risk tolerance. I probably spend more on computer backups then on my road side assistance insurance, yet the data I have on my machine is more than just my business. In many cases it is not replaceable. So I take steps to avoid loss due to failure.

The refrigerator doesn’t have a backup other than just not opening the door. If it does fail, I guess it’s the camping coolers and run to the store for some ice. Not an immediate backup system, yet it has worked on occasion.

The wine backup. Why that is a second bottle held in reserve, just in case, of course.

Notice not once did I mention MTBF – it’s not important to me as I go though my day. Reliability is though.

How is your day going? Do you notice what is working reliably? Do you consider failures and have backup systems or plans? How is reliability part of your day to day life? Share a story in the comments, this should be interesting.

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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