Discussions and MTBF Questions

The Importance of the Discussions around MTBF Questions

The best way to help others understand and stop using MTBF is to engage them in a discussion. I get questions concerning MTBF or reliability a few times a week. I attempt to answer each and every one, plus adding a follow up question or two.

In person or online, ask and answer MTBF questions. You not only improve your understanding of MTBF and reliability, you improve your still at tell stories to help affect change across your industry.

We all have learned reliability engineering concepts and methods from others. We add our contributions and refinements along the way. We should share our knowledge with others as a small part of improving the practice in our field.

Likewise, if you have a question, there is often someone with a little more or different experience that has an answer. Ask your question. Give others a chance to share their knowledge.

When we talk about MTBF we encourage the understanding of reliability. When we ask questions about how others use MTBF values to make decisions we help them frame better questions improving their decisions. When we answer questions concerning the perils of using MTBF we illuminate the underlying problems with it’s use.

Ignoring MTBF Doesn’t Help Anyone

With practice, anytime you see or hear MTBF in use, you will reflectively ask questions.

  • What are the assumptions?
  • Are the assumptions justified?
  • Where is the evidence?
  • What is the nature of the failure mechanism?
  • What do you really want concerning reliability performance? (My fav…)

At first you may not even notice how often you see and hear MTBF. Plan to pay attention for a day. Just count the times MTBF is invoked.

Set a reminder in your calendar system so you receive a nudge to count MTBF use again, then again, and so on. Each time you notice you will also notice when it is being improperly used.

Then practice doing something to improve the dissuasion. Ask questions. Get to a better understanding of the goal, the estimate, or the analysis. Get clear understanding for yourself and for those around you.

Clearing up Reliability Understanding Helps Your Customers

The logic here is simple. If we, within an organization, understand a clear set of terms and goals concerning reliability performance, we avoid mistakes, confusion, and surprises. If we collectively with our customers talk about and understand reliability performance expectations and performance we are more likely to deliver what they want.

When you hear a customer or supplier talking about MTBF, ask them what they really want concerning reliability. Simple, quick, clears up any confusion.

Our ability to deliver what a customer expects is in part based on knowing what they expect. Cleaning up the language we use is a great start to make our product successful in delivering what customers expect.

Engaging in Discussions Help Us Learn and Improve

One the best ways to master a topic is to teach that topic. Explaining the perils of MTBF to others allows you to improve your ability to convert the meaning well. You will learn how to teach by fitting the examples and specific problems with MTBF use to the specific situation.

Practice every chance you get. It’s not bad being known as the NoMTBF dude.

What is an example of how you answer (or ask) questions concerning MTBF? Use the comments box below and let’s share how to work to engage and improve our collective discussions concerning reliability,

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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