If you have been involved in the field of reliability in the past several years you most likely have heard the term “Design for Reliability” (DfR). More and more companies these days advertize DfR as part of their design process and more and more web-based and life training is offered on the DfR methods. However, what is really “Design for Reliability”? The short answer – it hasn’t been defined yet. Terminology-wise DfR is becoming the next Failure Rate, Durability, or MTBF – the terms many engineers think they understand, but often don’t and consequently misapply.
The meaning of the DfR is intuitively obvious: it is an approach to design, which (contrary to “Test-Analyze-Fix” philosophy) moves the reliability-focused activities to the earlier phases of the design and helps to design reliable products using science- and analysis-based methods. However, the devil is always in the details.
Various attempts of defining Design for Reliability have been made in the past several years including ReliaSoft:
However, the questions remain: What are the exact DfR tools? What are the specific activities? When they are best applied? Who is responsible? What metrics to use? And many others still remain. I believe the engineering community needs to continue defining DfR and building up its practices in order to take confusion out of this subject and eventually turn this loosely defined discipline into an essential ingredient of the Reliability Science.
Andre Kleyner, Delphi Electronics & Safety, Purdue Univeristy.