Even with an understanding of the various reliability practices and approaches, it can still be difficult to determine which activities are appropriate for one’s own system or organization. To begin, one must first define their reliability program, which should include reliability requirements, available resources (personnel, expertise, equipment), organizational culture and responsibilities, and other important (and unique) organizational factors. Reliability Problem Solving is then the process of identifying the appropriate reliability activities, and tailoring these practices to the conditions defined in the reliability program. While fairly simple in theory, it can be rather complex to perform, as special circumstances often come into play. The type of product(s) designed and/or manufactured by a company will often dictate, or at least influence, the activities that are performed. For example, reliability screening (i.e., tests to remove products with latent (unnoticeable) defects) is performed far more often for electronic components. Similarly, an organization that specializes in a particular type of system (e.g., pumps, relays, etc.) will often forgo failure discovery testing, because they are very familiar with the typical failure modes of these types of systems. It is not feasible to address even a fraction of the possible scenarios in a brief overview such as this, but the RMQSI Knowledge Center provides a free reliability self-assessment tool called RASTER to help get engineers started with this process.
From a different perspective, an effective reliability program may not address the development of reliable products, but instead ensuring that reliable products perform to expectations. In other words, some organizations rely on effective Asset Management practices to ensure that they get the most out of their investment into products and systems. This requires a combination of data collection and maintenance activities to monitor the system’s performance and appropriately address anomalies to identify and/or correct the root cause. Such collection, analyses and remediation efforts are typically performed as part of a Reliability Centered Maintenance program, which, when effectively applied, provides a cost-effective solution for asset management.