Why Products Fail?
High reliability is a hallmark of a good product. A good product outlasts the warranty period and the expected use life. When the product crosses the user’s expectation, it results in customer delight. The high reliability does not come easily. It certainly does not happen by chance but is an outcome of meticulous planning, designing, selection of material, testing, manufacturing process, handling, installation, and proper maintenance.
The first step is to understand the product and the conditions it is going to withstand. So, the possible questions are:
- What the equipment is supposed to perform?
- Who is going to use it?
- Under what environmental conditions is it going to perform?
- What is the associated infrastructure is it going to get connected with?
- How long is it supposed to last?
Factors which can affect reliability:
- Design – the most fundamental of all causes but unfortunately neglected. A good design provides safety margins for various conditions. An ideal design should be considering all the possible use conditions and misuse conditions. It should factor in the safety margins of the components and the variations that can happen. A good design also considers all the manufacturing processes and all the errors that can creep into the process.
- Component – component can be a significant factor in ensuring reliability. Component can fail due to variation of raw material. Poor component quality can also be a result of poor manufacturing process control at supplier end. Poor handling and storage conditions can also affect component quality.
- Manufacturing process– various human errors and errors in manufacturing process equipment can cause equipment to fail before its intended usage life.
- Unexpected/unforeseen conditions – unforeseen and unexpected conditions can cause failures. It can include weather and climatic conditions. It may also include accidents caused by external factors.
- Poor user training – users, if not trained, can cause failures due to poor use, maintenance, and upkeep. Users may also misuse the product due to wrong instructions, and poor understanding of instructions.
Failures can occur at various stages of product use
Initial failures or zero-hour failures are failures which occur at the time of installation or within a short time into the use. They are normally attributed to poor manufacturing process or installation errors. These failures can be avoided by having a well planned testing process and ensuring process control.
Midlife (normal life) failures can occur to random failures of components. Poor maintenance and continuous misuse can also result in increased mid-life product failures. Regular preventive maintenance and good selection of components can help reduce the failures.
End of life failures occurs as the equipment reaches the end of life. Wear-out of component are the primary reasons for end-of-life failures. Designing for long life and selecting the components accordingly can improve the life of the products.
A good product reduces cost of poor quality and ensures customer satisfaction. Design for Reliability is a business choice that can yield returns in the long run.
Written by Vivek Namboodiripad, Electronics & Communication engineer and originally published by PowerThatProtects