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Introduction to Reliability Engineering

Robert P. Jackson, P.E.

Course Outline

The purpose of this four (4) hour course is to provide an introductory body of information that will allow the engineer, engineering manager or corporate manager the resources to start the process of organizing a reliability department within the company he or she works for.  We wish to illustrate those key design practices that ensure high levels of reliability.   This course will also provide references for further study so that the concepts of reliability and reliability engineering, as applied to commercial and consumer products, are not overlooked or taken for granted.  Successfully completing this course will not make you an expert or a specialist but certainly will provide you with an understanding of the basics so further study will be less confusing.  There is no doubt about the fact that the design process is one involving many disciplines and even though we explore only one; i.e. reliability, we touch on several others. The last portion of this course will address reliability methodology as applied to computer programming.   The study of how to improve the reliability of computer codes is a huge industry and one that garners significant awareness.  The interaction of various program packages remains critical to many systems and subsystems.  Reliability can provide the understanding, through testing, to insure no issues when two, three or more companies contribute code that will drive systems as found in the “Airbus”, Boeing “Dreamliner”, MEGLEV, NASA’s shuttlecraft, top-of-the-line automotive products, etc.

This course includes a multiple choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the completion of this course, the student will have:

Intended Audience

This course is designed for anyone needing to gain a basic understanding of the science of reliability and how reliability can be used to produce a product that will meet all of the quality objectives considered desirable.  The practice of applying reliability methodology requires the background of an engineer or someone comfortable with mathematical models and testing methods. The “hard core” reliability practitioner will know how to formulate transfer functions and perform regression analysis for systems, subsystems and components.  We don’t delve too deeply into how to do this but we certainly do explain the application of these processes relative to determining “baseline” reliability and how testing and data collection can achieve significant improvements in system reliability.  This is an excellent course for engineering and management individuals wishing to gain knowledge as to what type of personnel will form the nucleus of a successful reliability department and what equipment is necessary to accomplish that goal.  I have also included a chapter on reliability testing of software.  This is one field that has become incredibly important over the years and can contribute to a “make or break” situation relative to launching new computer code.  The interaction between software packages contributes to ongoing problems within the computer industry and minimizing program “crashes” is often the difference between usage and taking it back to the store. 

Benefit to Attendees

There is a universal opinion that every design engineer and every engineering manager needs a basic “grounding” as to reliability, reliability engineering and reliability testing.  This course seeks to provide an overview to those individuals AND give references that will aid their efforts to learn more about these disciplines.  Engineering and manufacturing endeavors will greatly benefit from incorporating the tenants of reliability and reliability testing into their design and development processes.  Both quality and reliability are greatly enhanced when reliability is considered during the very first phases of a development program and insured when those processes are continued on an audit basis after the product is in production.

Course Introduction

One of the most difficult issues in manufacturing a product is determining how long it will last and how long it should last.  If the product is robust to the point of lasting “forever” you won’t grantee continued sales, after a point.  If it “dies” the first week, you will eventually lose all momentum relative to the marketing and sales effort. It is amazing to me as to how many products are dead on arrival.  They don’t work, right out of the box. This is an indication of slipshod design, assembly or both.  It is definitely possible to design and build quality and reliability into a product so that the end user is very satisfied and feels as though he got his money’s worth.     The medical, automotive, aerospace and pharmaceutical industries are absolutely dependent upon reliability methods to insure safe and usable products so premature failure is not an issue.  Reliability methods can also provide designs that will “fail safe” if they fail at all.  Component failures are not uncommon to any assembly of parts but how that component fails can mean the difference between a product that just won’t work and one that can cause significant injury or even death to the user.  Reliability “grew up” with the advent of printed circuit (PC) boards and the developing complexity of components on those boards.  Terminology such as “burn-in” and “infant mortality” resulted from studying the reliability of PC boards and how to improve on their designs and packaging relative to the “cans” they are assembled into.    The study of how to improve the reliability of computer codes is a huge industry and one that garners significant awareness in that industry.  The interaction of various program packages remains critical to many systems and subsystems.  Reliability can provide the understanding, through testing, to insure no issues when two, three or more companies contribute code that will drive systems such as the “Airbus”, MEGLEV, “NASA’s “ shuttle-craft, etc.  The refinement of mathematical models to define and quantify the operation and usage of components and systems is ongoing and remarkably critical to a world of increasing technology.

Course Content

The course content is in a PDF file:

Introduction to Reliability Engineering

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Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.