Conference article

Evolution of Reliability thinking Countermeasures for some technical issues

Åke Lönnqvist
Division of Quality Sciences, Chalmers University of Technology / Volvo Car Corporation, Sweden

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Published in: 10th QMOD Conference. Quality Management and Organiqatinal Development. Our Dreams of Excellence; 18-20 June; 2007 in Helsingborg; Sweden

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 26:4, p.

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Published: 2008-02-15


ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


If the saying “history repeats itself” is true for Reliability Engineering; it is obvious that a good knowledge of historical course of events would be an advantage for assessing the direction on future reliability development.

‘The farther backward you can look; the farther forward you are likely to see.’

There are many historical examples; some of them discussed below; that shows how technical problems have initiated improvement activities; both pure technical improvements but also development of standards; methods and models for reliability analysis and assessment. The purpose of studying drivers and primary causes to development of Reliability Engineering is to create a base for better understanding of how current reliability approaches can develop further. With this historical perspective the research question can be formulated as; “Are the historical approaches for Reliability Engineering countermeasures still valid as motivators for similar reliability activities in current product development”? It is an extensive issue to give an exhaustive answer to the question above and this is far above the scope of this paper; but it is the belief of the author that a discussion on past experiences can create ideas and guidelines for future deployment of methods and approaches for reliability assurance in product development.

In this paper countermeasures to technical problems related to failures will be discussed. How to classify the countermeasures has been one concern during the study. It was found that the International standard “Dependability management; part 3-1 Application guideanalysis techniques for dependability – Guide on methodology” (IEC 60300-3-1:2003(E)) offered an interesting categorization of dependability analysis methods; with regard to their main purpose. It was decided to use this categorization in a more general way; not only for methods but also for other identified countermeasures.

The three categories represent approaches to handle reliability issues in product and process development; and for that reason the categories are used throughout this paper as a basis for further discussion on Reliability Engineering and associated countermeasures; although giving them a somewhat wider interpretation as below.

1. “Fault avoidance” consists of activities that aim to avoid the occurrence of failures; e.g. by using “derating” of components and similar activities to make the design robust against factors affecting the reliability.

2. “Architectural concerns” is here defined as activities aimed to influence the structural design of a product with the purpose to make it more reliable; robust and safe. This means that both the probability of occurrence of a failure and the consequences of a failure are considered.

3. “Estimation of basic events” includes activities that aim to give quantitative measures for the studied events or failure mechanisms.

This study presents some examples of historical technical reliability concerns and related countermeasures taken to improve the situation. The discussion on countermeasures and their influence on Reliability Engineering approaches; will utilize the three categories above to classify the countermeasures.


History; reliability; defect components; mass production; variation; robustness


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