TOP EVENTS:Contact Us InfoContact Us InfoPrint Version

Winter 2010

Ops A La Carte LLC
(408) 654-0499
Fax: (408) 986-8154

Theme for this newsletter:
50 Ways to Improve Your

Product Reliabilty


COURSES/SEMINARS - CRE, Webinar Series, Toyo, NTS
EVENTS - RAMS, CMSE, Meet the Experts
SPECIAL OFFERS - Take a Self Assessment
NEWS - New Book, Interview, Open House, SMTA, ASTR
FEATURED SERVICE - How Reliable Is Your Product?
RELIABILITY BLOG - Highlights of Last Quarter's Blogs
PROBLEM SOLVER - Take a Self Assessment
JOB OPENINGS - Ops A La Carte, PVPowered, AB Sciex


Happy Holidays and welcome to our 24th quarterly newsletter. Our newsletter comes out the first week of March, June, September, and December. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

My book "How Reliable Is Your Product: 50 Ways to Improve Your Product Reliability" is due out on January 1st and is available for Pre-Release Purchase at a 15% discount. You can preview the First 3 Chapters at How Reliable Is Your Product or you can go to the Featured Service section below.

Clients ask us often how to evaluate their reliability program. The best method is a Reliability Assessment. We created this quick Self-Assessment tool you can use to get a baseline of your reliability program. See the Problem Solver section for a special offer if you take our Self-Assessment.

Last month was our Medical Reliability month where we had 3 great events around medical reliability - a webinar, a presentation at the BIOMEDevice Show, and our successful Medical Device Open House. We will close our Medical Reliability month with an article by Ops A La Carte's medical reliability guru Chet Haibel entitled "Two Medical Device Development Tips"

The rest of last quarter was equally busy between conferences, events, and tons of new business. We have seen a huge upswing in the demand for our consulting, testing, and educational services.

In January, I will be going to Taiwan, China, and Japan to visit clients and give presentations. See the seminars section for more details.

At the end of January, we will be at RAMS giving a record 8 presentations among all our consultants.

Also, we just released our free webinar series calendar where we will be giving a free webinar each month.

And our new 2011 Education Schedule is now available including our annual reliability symposium. You can also view all of our events on our google calendar below.

We hope you enjoy the following newsletter. Our next newsletter will come out March 1st. Thank you for your continued support and interest.

- Mike Silverman, Managing Partner/Founder


Event: Webinar/Seminar on Lead Free Future Challenges
Date: Dec 9, 2010
Location: Webinar and Live Seminar at Celestica Toronto

About Event: Ops A La Carte, Celestica, and Design Chain Associates have teamed up to provide you with three presentations on the current state of knowledge of lead-free electronics reliability and future challenges driven by environmental requirements. For those that can join live, a tour of the Celestica's Toronto facility will be arranged following the seminar.

Register: To sign-up for the free live seminar at Celestica, Toronto, please email to:
The sign-up link for the free webinar is:

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: Webinar on Profitability Through Business Excellence in the Product Realization Process
Date: Thursday, Dec 16, 2010
Location: Webinar

About Event: Ops A La Carte and the Product Realization Group bring you a presentation by Indra Desai. Many great products never make it to volume because key steps are skipped or executed in ways that prevent shipping high quality products. In this session you will learn current best practices for building quality into the product realization process.

Register: The sign-up link for the free webinar is:

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: Seminar at Toyo in Tokyo
Date: January 18, 2011, 9-4pm
Location: Tokyo, Japan

About Event: Mike Silverman will be presenting a seminar on "HALT Integrated into a Reliability Program"

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: Seminar on Testing at NTS
Date: February 10, 2011, 10am-2pm
Location: Fullerton, CA

About Event: Steve Brenner and Mike Silverman of Ops will give a free seminar at NTS in Fullerton on accelerated testing and the importance of a good test plan. This seminar is open to outside participants and will be set up as a webinar as well.

For more info, please Contact Us Info

2011 Free Webinar Series - First Tuesday of Each Month 11:30am-1pm PST

About Event: On the first Tuesday of each month, we will bring you a free webinar topic. Below is our current line-up for the first half of 2011. We will publish a registration page as we get closer to each event.

Tuesday February 1st - Soft Errors in Modern Memory Technology, by Ops A La Carte's Charlie Slayman

Tuesday March 1st - Warranty, Reliability, and Serviceability – How the 3 Tie Together, by Ops A La Carte, Innovation Blue, and the Hartsfield Company.

Tuesday April 5th - Solar Reliability– Reliability Challenges in the Solar Industry, by Ops A La Carte and Concurrent Design

Tuesday May 3rd - Design for 6 Sigma (DfSS) and Design for Reliability (DfR) – Similarities and Differences, by Ops A La Carte

Tuesday June 7th - How to Use HALT with Prognostics, by Ops A La Carte and the Ridgetop Group

For more info, please Contact Us InfoSEMINARS

Course: Certified Reliability Engineer (CRE) Preparation Course
Date(s): January 11 - February 22, 2011 (Tuesday nights)
Time: 6pm-10pm one night a week, 7 weeks
Instructor: John Cooper, Ops A La Carte
Length: 7 weeks
Cost: $1295
Location: San Jose, CA

(for those out of area, course is now offered via internet)

Description: The Certified Reliability Engineer is a professional who understands the principles of product reliability. We have been offering this Exam Preparation Course for over 12 years. Students have found it very valuable in preparing for the exam. Even if you are not planning on taking the exam but need a good, in-depth course in Reliability Engineering, this can benefit you substantially.

Course Webpage: CRE Course by Ops A La Carte

For more info or to register, please Contact Us Info

For information on other course offerings go to: Ops A La Carte Schedule

All our courses are offered as in-house tailored seminars. To view a list of all our seminars, go to Ops A La Carte Course List


Tour/Event: Ops to Visit Taiwan, China, and Japan in January
Date: January , 2011

About Tour: Ops A La Carte's Mike Silverman will be visiting Taiwan, China and Japan in January. His schedule is as follows:

- January 3-7 Taiwan
- January 10-16 China
- January 17-23 Japan - We will be giving a seminar on Jan 18 (see seminar section for details)

If you have any divisions of your company or vendors in these areas who you think would benefit from a visit, Mike would be happy to stop by and meet with them.

To schedule for Mike to visit, please Contact Us Info

Event: Reliability, Maintainability, and Availability Symposium (RAMS)
Date: January 24-27, 2011
Location: Orlando, Florida

About Event: RAMS is the premier event in the reliability, availability, and maintainability engineering disciplines. Combining tutorials, presentations, CEUs, certifications, and networking into one week-long program, the RAMS delivers cutting edge information to all technical industries.

Ops will have a booth at this event and will be giving the following Tutorials, Technical Presentations, and Panel Discussions

- Introduction to RAM Management by Fred Schenkelberg
- Effective Reliability Program Traits by Fred Schenkelberg
- System Safety Engineering by Dev Raheja

- Electromechanical Device Design Methods for Reliability Improvement by Lou LaVallee
- Green Reliability by Mike Silverman
- Soft Error Trends and Mitigation Techniques in Memory Devices by Charlie Slayman
- Achieving World Class LCD TV Reliability in a Low Cost Manufacturing Environment by Martin Shaw

- How to Effectively Implement DFR and DFSS in a Systems Eng Environment by Fred Schenkelberg

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: Components for Military and Space Electronics (CMSE)
Date: February 7-10, 2011
Location: Los Angeles, CA

About Event: CMSE is the premier conference on the engineering, design and use of electronic components in military and space systems. We will be presenting a paper at this event:

- Soft Errors in Modern Memory Technology by Charlie Slayman

For more info, please Contact Us Info

Event: Implantable Medical Device Design for Reliability
Date: Thursday March 3, 2011, 10:30am-1pm
Location: TBD

About Event: This is part of SMP Tech's Meet the Experts series.

For more info, please Contact Us Info

IEEE Reliability Society Monthly Talks - 1st Thursday of every month 7-9pm PST

About Event: We hold meetings once a month, first Thursday of every month (with the exception of the January meeting). Ops A La Carte's managing partner Mike Silverman is Chair of the society chapter and Ops A La Carte's Fred Schenkelberg is Vice Chair.

January 12, 2011: Latest Version of JMP Software (Joint Meeting with ASQ Stats Group), by Laura Higgins of JMP

February 3, 2011: Best of RAMS, by the IEEE Rel Society Committee

March 3, 2011: Recent Developments in Hard Drive Reliability Engineering, by Bernhard Hiller of Western Digital

We will also start to have tours to different facilities in the bay area once a quarter. Stay tuned for our line-up or check back at

For more info, please Contact Us Info

2011 Lunch and Learn Series - 2nd Thursday of Each Month 11:30am-1:30pm PST

About Event: On the 2nd Thursday of each month, the Product Realization Group will host a Lunch and Learn Series with different topics each month. We will post the 2011 line-up in the next few weeks.

For more info, please Contact Us Info

SPECIAL OFFERS With the economy picking up, we find many of our customers so buried that they don't have time to stop to ask for help or get the paperwork put through to get the funding. Well now we have a simple solution. From now through the end of January we are offering 1 hour of free consultation to anyone who mentions this offer. No strings attached. We will come in and give you our expert advice on any issues you are having.

Email us via our Special Offers Contact Form



All presentations that we gave can be found on the technical download section of our website at Technical Papers.

Ops announces Pre-Release of Mike Silverman's New Book - December 5, 2010

Mike Silverman's book "How Reliable Is Your Product: 50 Ways to Improve Your Product Reliability" is due out in January 2011 and is available for Pre-Release Purchase at a 15% discount. The 340 page book is available in hardback and ebook.

Ops is Interviewed by SMT Magazine - December 1, 2010

Ops A La Carte's Mike Silverman was interviewed by Marcy LaRont of i-Connect007, part of SMT Magazine. The title of the article is "Electronics Reliability and Product Development." Look for it at

Ops A La Carte Holds Annual Open House - November 12, 2010

Ops A La Carte holds Open House at its newly remodeled facility. Ops' partners PRG, Voler, and Fusion Design also participate at the open house, giving us a chance to show our power of our combined resources. We also had product demonstrations from three other companies - Alter-G and Ethologics. Below are pictures of the Alter-G Anti Gravity Treadmill at our open house, along with attendees trying out the system.

Ops_Video Ops_Video Ops_Video Ops_Video Ops_Video Ops_Video Ops_Video Ops_Video

Also, congratulations to the grand prize winner at our Open House - Vince Sullivan of Stellartech who won a shiatsu massage chair. Vince won by getting the most right answers to our Wacky Medical Trivia quiz with 5 correct answers. Take this QUIZ and see how many you can get right. If you take the quiz and beat Vince's score, I will give you a free copy of my new book.


Ops A La Carte and PRG Deliver Presentation at BIOMEDevice Show in San Jose (Nov 10-11), the ASQ Quality Conf. in Santa Clara (Oct 21-22), and the SMTA Medical Conf. in Phoenix (Sept 22-23).

Ops A La Carte and two other Product Realization Group's partners - Voler Systems and Fusion Design - teamed up, sharing a booth and delivering a joint presentation on how we successfully collaborate on projects together. If you would like to see the slides from our presentation, please go to:

- Outsourcing Product Development to a Multidiscipline Team of Specialists - A Success Story

Highlights of this presentation are also shown in the Fall 2010 Newsletter Featured Service.

Congratulations to Henry Pastorelli of OptiMedica (left) and Silvia Milanez of Abbott Vascular (right) for winning our grand prize - an RC Helicopter. Henry won at the BIOMEDevice show and Silvia won at the ASQ Quality Conference.

Ops_Video Ops_Video

Ops A La Carte Exhibits at ISSRE in San Jose - November 2, 2010

Ops A La Carte's Bob Mueller and Mike Silverman exhibit at the 21st annual International Symposium on Software Reliability Engineering (ISSRE 2010) event held this year at Cisco in San Jose. Bob and Mike were there to show off their new developments in Software Reliability. For a download of the slides Bob and Mike showed at the event, please go to: Software Reliability Slides

For a download of Bob's Software Reliability Webinar given earlier in the year, please go to:
SEMINAR SLIDES: Software Reliability Seminar
WEBINAR STREAM: Software Reliability Webinar Recording (passcode: "swquality")

Webinar on Best Reliability Practices for Medical Devices - November 1, 2010

Ops A La Carte's Mike Silverman and Chet Haibel provided a webinar on best practices for medical device design and development along with a few interesting case studies. If you would like to see the slides or the broadcast of the event, please go to:

- Best Reliability Practices for Medical Devices Webinar Slides
- Best Reliability Practices for Medical Devices Webinar Webcast

Ops Provides Training for PRG/Foothill College - October 28, 2010

Ops A La Carte's Mike Silverman provides a 4 part training class as part of the Product Realization Group's Certificate Program in affiliation with Foothill College. The program consists of 5 subjects, one subject per month for 5 months. The Product Realization Certificate Program provides an opportunity for individuals, group managers and senior management, who are involved in the development and release of high technology products, to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the product realization process.

Ops' Martin Shaw Receives Best Paper Award - October 25, 2010

Ops A La Carte's Martin Shaw received the best paper award at the annual Applied Reliability Symposium Asia in Singapore in October 2010 on LCD TV Accelerated Testing. He also won the same award for his presentation at the Applied Reliability Symposium Europe in Berlin in March 2010. If you would like to see the slides from his presentation, please go to:

- LCD_TV_Accelerated_Testing

Ops A La Carte Presents at annual ASTR in Denver - October 8, 2010

Ops A La Carte's Mike Silverman, Charlie Slayman, and Martin Shaw all gave presentations at this year's Accelerated Stress Testing and Reliability (ASTR) Workshop. If you would like to see the slides from our presentation, please go to:

- What Is HALT and What Is Not HALT by Mike Silverman
- Acceleration Factors for Neutron Beam Soft Error Testing by Charlie Slayman
- LCD TV Accelerated Testing by Martin Shaw

Congratulations to Vins Fan of Chroma for winning our grand prize - a new golf ball return device - for getting closest to the pin in our putting contest. Vins put our 50 foot put within 5 inches of the hole.

Ops_Video Ops_Video

Ops Presents at Local Medical Device Event - September 22, 2010

Ops A La Carte's Managing Partner Mike Silverman and Integrated Compliance Engineer's President Aaron Joseph presented at the SMPTech "Meet the Experts" Forum. Below are links to Mike and Aaron's presentations:

- Reliability Challenges in the Medical Industry by Mike Silverman
- Medical Product Design and Validation by Aaron Joseph

For more information on news, please visit our News Page or call (408) 654-0499.


HOW RELIABLE IS YOUR PRODUCT? 50 Ways To Improve Product Reliability
Author: Mike Silverman, Managing Partner, Ops A La Carte

This quarter's article is the first three chapters of my new book. I thought you would enjoy a sneak preview. The book comes out January 2011.

I’ve read many reliability and quality textbooks, and very few approach reliability from the practical perspective. Instead, these books are filled with theory and formulas. However, many engineers are starting with almost no knowledge on the subject of reliability and they are in need of some basic education, but even more, they need the benefit of some practical experience and guidance. I wrote this book as a helpful guide and I targeted the book at engineering professionals around the world in need of a practical guide to reliability.

I wrote this book based on my 25 years practicing reliability, including 10 years running a reliability test lab and 10 years running a reliability consulting firm called Ops A La Carte. I started Ops A La Carte because I saw the need to teach and help companies develop reliability programs. Most engineers I come across know basic concepts and have their favorite reliability techniques, but few understand how to put this into an overall reliability program.

Ops A La Carte has worked with over 500 different companies in over 100 different industries in 30 different countries, so we have the ability to provide guidance from the experiential point of view. When I use the collective term “we” in this book, I am referring to an experience we have had at Ops A La Carte.

Just like any other discipline, there is no substitute for experience. Book knowledge is a good start but until you are working on a design program or faced with a particular failure situation, you may not know what to do, or you may panic and resort to ineffective techniques you used in the past. In this book, I will show you different techniques and give you real life situations that we faced and how we used particular techniques to solve problems.

I saw a movie recently called “Eagle Eye” that is quite applicable to reliability. The movie starts off with the discovery of a possible terrorist plot. The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States consult their new supercomputer “Eagle Eye” to determine the probability that the terrorist plot is real. The supercomputer comes back with a probability of 39%. The commander in charge responded by saying “39% and probability don’t belong in the same sentence.” So true…and very appropriate for reliability as well. The next scene, the Joint Chiefs consult with the President and by this time, “Eagle Eye” collects a bit more information and raises its probability to 51%. The President then decides to take action based on this and authorizes an attack on the alleged terrorist group. What is that really telling us? In fact, a probability of 51% means that there is a 49% chance that the conclusion is incorrect based on the data.

Likewise with reliability tests, you need to make decisions based on test data from a sample of the population. You will never have enough data to be 100% certain of any decision, so you should gain as much confidence as you can with the time and money that you have. That is the art of reliability testing.

I structured the book in 50 easy to read chapters. Each chapter has some background on the reliability technique, its usefulness, and in some cases, its limitations. Also, when applicable I compare the technique in question to other techniques to show you when to use which technique. Starting in Chapter 3, I introduce the topic of Reliability Integration, and for each chapter onwards, I comment on how you can use the concept of Reliability Integration with that particular technique. I will talk a lot in this book about Reliability Integration. It is one of the most valuable takeaways from this book.

In each chapter, I will provide one or more case studies from clients we have worked with and how we utilized the specific technique in question. I didn’t use the names of people or companies but all of the case studies are real.


Reliability is an interesting discipline because there are many techniques you can use to solve problems and create a reliable product. There certainly are guidelines and best practices, but you should determine for yourself the set of techniques that will work within your company. Some of the factors you should consider are: Size of your company, company culture, past experiences, background education, marketplace, and customer requirements.

Even though this book is filled with different techniques, don’t think you need to use them all. Everything I write in the rest of the book is in the form of guidelines and tips. You should determine for yourself which of these tips will work for you and which won’t when developing your reliability program. Also, don’t try to copy someone else’s reliability program, even if it is from the same industry, and don’t copy a reliability program from a previous company. They can be great starting places and can be very valuable input, but trying to copy one program will only get you into trouble because what makes a reliability program work has as much to do with the people involved and the culture of the organization as it does with the product that you are working on. I’ve seen two companies making almost identical products have completely different reliability programs, and both programs worked for the respective companies.

The important thing to remember is that whatever reliability program you put together should have metrics so you can measure where you are at any given time in the product development process, and the program should produce positive results.

CASE STUDY: Guidelines, Not Rules
I was performing a Reliability Assessment for a military subcontractor, and as part of the assessment I asked to see their Reliability Program Plan (RPP). Our client was so proud of the plan because of its sheer volume – it was over 100 pages! I asked the reliability engineer who wrote the plan how it came to be. He said that he picked up one of the more well-known reliability textbooks, opened up the table of contents, and made each chapter of the book a section of his plan. I looked at his plan more closely and noticed that he copied the entire plan almost verbatim. He thought that the closer he followed the book, the more successful he would be. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The plan should have a good foundation, and a reliability textbook is as good as any other source, but then the plan should be tailored to fit your particular needs. This plan obviously wasn’t. Fortunately, his customer wasn’t easily fooled and also rejected the plan.

We then worked with our client to tailor his plan to match his organization’s particular situation. His customer accepted this new plan. Our client followed the plan and developed a very reliable product.


Reliability is no longer a separate activity performed by a distinct group within your organization. Product reliability goals, concerns and activities are integrated into nearly every function and process of your organization. Senior management’s role is to foster an environment where your team keeps reliability and quality goals clearly in mind. Engineering teams should balance project costs, customer maintenance costs, quality, schedule, performance and reliability (and possibly other factors specific to your industry) to achieve optimal product designs. Your organization’s structure should encourage all members of your team to apply appropriate reliability methods and principles. The Design for Reliability (DFR) role for the reliability personnel is often finding the cost effective components and design structures with minimal risk and then presenting this to the rest of your team.

When I got started in the reliability field in 1984, reliability seemed to be this “throw it over the wall” concept in which design engineers passed the completed design over to our reliability group. By the time we got the product, we could do little to affect the design so the reliability effort was mostly focused on measuring where we were. If the product didn’t meet its goals at that point, what could we do? We would ship the product and then spend the next several years monitoring its performance and fixing what we could. Gradually the product got better over time. Our company used our customers as the feedback mechanism. The end result was we had unhappy customers and we had a reputation for poor reliability. Unfortunately, this practice used to be very common.

In today’s global economy, so many industries are competing on reliability; we have realized that this “throw it over the wall” method can’t work anymore. Reliability should be designed in. What better way to design in reliability than to make the designers responsible for the reliability of their designs? This concept has caught on so well that today, when I lecture on DFR, my audience is largely made up of designers, not reliability engineers. The role of the reliability engineer is changing into the mentor. The reliability engineer is now responsible for going out and finding the best techniques to use and then training the designers on how to use them. The reliability engineer is responsible for writing the Reliability Program Plan (RPP), and the designers are responsible for executing the plan.

DFR is about getting the designers to take ownership of the reliability of the product. The reliability department then becomes the steering committee, helping to set the policies, providing the direction and training. I liken it to a rowing race. The reliability engineer is the coxswain (on a rowing team, the coxswain is the member who sits in the stern facing the bow, steers the boat, and coordinates the power and rhythm of the rowers) and the designers are the rowers. When the two work together well, the boat seems to glide across the water smoothly and effortlessly.

2.1 Who Should Take a DFR Course?
Every time I teach a DFR course, my clients always ask me who should attend. Well, the designers of course. Should marketing attend? Sure they should. You should have representation from sales, customer service, and manufacturing as well. Of course, the reliability team should also attend. Anyone who has a stake in the reliability of the product should attend. But the designers are a key to the process. Each day-to-day decision they make about the design of the product will ultimately affect the reliability of the product. What is the role of the reliability group? That group should be the leaders and the educators; the ones that help create the goals and write the RPP. But the day-to-day activities should be performed by the designers (being guided by the reliability team).

CASE STUDY: Getting Your Designers to Buy Into DFR?
A telecommunications company was suffering from low product reliability. Each time they discovered a problem either in product testing or in manufacturing, the test engineers and manufacturing engineers couldn’t get the designers to help fix the problem because the designers were too busy designing the next product. You see, they were being incentivized for how fast they could bring the product to market, not for how reliable the product was. Then the company did a smart thing - the CEO made a change and told the designers that they are now responsible for helping fix field failures. You know what happened? All of a sudden, the designers started listening to the reliability team and a DFR program was born inside their company. Most designers love to work on new product designs and most dislike having to redesign something that didn’t work quite right. The sooner they can get onto the next project, the better from their perspective. Therefore, tying their next project to the successful reliable completion of the previous project is a good incentive for them to ensure they design a reliable product.


Reliability Integration is the process of seamlessly, cohesively integrating reliability techniques together to maximize reliability and at the lowest possible cost. What this means is you should think of your reliability program as a set of techniques that are used together rather than just a bunch of individual activities.

You are building a system, and a system is made up of different components and assemblies and there are different disciplines involved (some of the main disciplines are electrical, mechanical, software, firmware, optical, and chemical). All of the individual pieces make up the system, so don’t forget about the interactions and make sure that you think of the reliability from a system perspective. In the figure below, we illustrate this point using the disciplines of electrical, mechanical, and software.

This is especially true of software versus hardware disciplines. Most companies work on Software Reliability and Hardware Reliability separately and don’t integrate the two. When failures occur, this then results in finger-pointing rather than synergy.

This is equally true of electrical versus mechanical disciplines. We see more synergy between these two groups during programs than between software and hardware; however, at the beginning, they rarely get together to discuss common reliability goals and how to apportion them down to each major area of the system.

Product development teams view reliability within each of the separate sub-domains of mechanical, electrical, and software issues. Your customers view reliability as a system-level issue, with minimal concern placed on the distinction between mechanical, electrical, and software issues. Your customer wants the whole product and all its parts to work together perfectly. Since the primary measure of reliability is made by your customer and their end users, engineering teams should maintain a balance of both views (system and sub-domain) in order to develop a reliable product.

3.1 Reliability versus Cost
Intuitively, the emphasis in reliability to achieve a reduction in warranty and in-service costs results in some minimal increase in development and manufacturing costs. Use of the proper techniques during the proper life cycle phase will help to minimize total life cycle cost (LCC).

To minimize total LCC, your organization should do two things:
1) Choose the best techniques from all of the techniques available and apply these techniques at the proper phases of the product life cycle.
2) Properly integrate these techniques by feeding information between different phases of the product life cycle.

In this figure, it is evident that:
1) Program costs go up as you spend more on reliability. At a certain point, you won’t get your return on investment (ROI) because the reliability has reached a point where it is becoming increasingly more difficult to improve the reliability. That is why it is important to know what the goal is, and it can be just as detrimental to your company to produce a product that is too reliable as not reliable enough. The product that is too reliable usually comes with increased costs, and your customers may not need this level of reliability and will opt for the less expensive product. When was the last time you purchased a $200 blender or toaster?
2) Warranty costs go up as reliability goes down.
3) Software has no associated manufacturing costs (other than perhaps the cost of CD’s and manuals and the cost of personnel to test the product in production), so warranty costs and savings are almost entirely allocated to hardware. If there is no cost savings associated with improving Software Reliability, why not leave it as is and focus on improving hardware reliability to save money? You shouldn’t do this for two reasons:
a) Our experience is that for typical systems, software failures outnumber hardware failures by a ratio of 10:1 (see Section 31.1 for more details).
Customers buy integrated systems, not just hardware.
b) The benefits for a Software Reliability program aren’t in direct cost savings. Instead, the benefits are in:
i) Increased software/firmware staff availability with reduced operational schedules resulting in fewer corrective maintenance events.
ii) Increased customer goodwill based on improved customer satisfaction.

CASE STUDY: Linking Electrical, Mechanical, and Software Reliability together
We were working with a semiconductor equipment company to help improve their reliability on their next generation product. First, we provided a Design for Reliability (DFR) seminar for each of the three different disciplines – the electrical group, the mechanical group, and the software group. Then we met with the electrical, mechanical, and software team leads and developed reliability goals. First we started with high level system goals and the apportioned the goals down to each subsystem – electrical, mechanical, and software. Each group lead then took the goal for his subsystem and broke it down further within his area. Then we worked with each group lead to put together a reliability program plan to meet his subsystem goals. We rolled each of these different subsystem plans into an overall reliability plan for the product. Then we worked with each group lead to ensure he was on track for meeting his subsystem goals throughout the product development process. The end result was that our client was able to achieve their reliability goals for each subsystem and for the system as a whole.

For seeing this here, you are entitled to take advantage of a Pre-Release Purchase at a 10% discount.

Below is a summary of the Best of our Blog for last quarter - highlights of the best blog topics we had. If you would like to contribute to our blog, please either

Contact Us Info or go to


This month instead of solving a problem, we are asking our readers to take a Self Assessment.

Clients ask us all the time on how to evaluate their reliability program. The best method is a Reliability Assessment. We created this quick Self-Assessment tool you can use to get a baseline of your reliability program. If you take this self assessment and email us your scores, we will offer a copy of my new book.

High Technology OEM’s face significant increases in global competition, time to market pressures, and technological complexities, which result in higher risks for bringing new products to market. These risks drive the need for greater use of outsourced services.

To reduce these risks, the PRG has developed a “one-stop-shop” of outsourced services that helps companies to bring new products to market. Engagements are tailored to business and product profiles, and partners work together to deliver services that range from initial concept through global logistics and repair.

Your Benefits

  • Our integrated solutions will save you time, streamlining bringing your product to market.
  • Our proven partnerships will eliminate guesswork and prevent breakdowns in communication.
  • Our partners will educate you on current best practices.

Product Realization Group | | |

Toyo Japan offers HALT and HASS services at their Tokyo office. Check out their HALT vibration video at Ops partners with Toyo to provide HALT and Reliability Services for all of their customers in Japan.

Contact Masashi Kawakami at

Given the current economic climate, we know of many talented individuals that are currently looking for work. Therefore, if you are an employer and have a need for any position within reliability, engineering, or operations, we are offering to advertise in our newsletter at no cost. Just doing our part to help stimulate the economy! Below are a few positions that we do know about.

Senior Reliability Consultant

Ops A La Carte is looking for Senior Reliability Consultants around the world to join our team of consultants and work on some of the most exciting and challenging projects in the industry. Whether you have an existing consulting practice or are interested in developing one, please contact us.

If interested, email us via our OPS Job Search Contact Form or call (408) 654-0499.

Three Reliability Engineering Positions

Position is for their Bend, Oregon office. Email Mike Fife at:

Reliability Engineer

Position is for their Toronto office. Email Terri Simpler at: Job AB 000222.


Ops A La Carte's newsletter goes out to over 18,000 subscribers. If you would like to put an ad or job opening in next quarter's "Reliability News", fill out our Job Openings Form or call at (408) 654-0499.

reliabiltyeducationabout usresourcesnewscontact us
ReliabilityNews is a service of Ops A La Carte. To subscribe yourself or a friend, send an email
via our ReliabilityNews Contact Form with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject line

To remove yourself from this email, send an email with the word REMOVE in the subject line.
Copyright 2001-2009 Ops A La Carte, LLC. All rights reserved.