Monthly Archives: June 2011

Mike Silverman visited a dozen companies on the east coast of the US in May to provide consulting and to listen to what clients are doing and what their needs are.

Mike visited companies from Rhode Island to Toronto and provided hour long consultations. Being always interested in how to better serve our customers, Mike listened closely to what everyone had to say about what their needs are.

Based on these visits, we will be coming out with a new framework of services to better serve our clients long-term goals. Stay-tuned for more about this.

We have developed a self assessment test that can help you to see where your company stands in your quest to develop reliable products. The test is quick and allows you to easily see where you stand. The test is here: Self Assessment Test.

We developed this quick test because may clients have asked us how they can evaluate their own reliability program. The best method is a Reliability Assessment. We created this tool for you to get a basic baseline about your reliability program.

Date(s): Tuesday, September 27, 2011 to Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Time: 6pm-8pm two nights a week (Tues/Thurs) for 10 weeks
Instructor: 5 different modules, 5 different PRG instructors
Length: 10 weeks
Cost: $995.
Location: Foothill College, Los Altos, CA

Class Dates
PRC-01: Engineering Development Sept. 27th
PRC-02: Product Reliability Oct. 11th
PRC-03: Data Mgmt. & Collaboration Oct. 25th
PRC-04: Supply Chain Management Nov. 8th
PRC-05: Business Compliance Nov. 29th

You can grow the knowledge and skills of your people by providing the following learning experience – Benefits to Participants:

  • What is the Product Realization Process?
  • How to effectively bring new products to market?
  • What are the tools for collaboration and team based development?
  • Learn Current Best Practices
  • Gain Continuing Educational Units (CEU’s)

For more information on schedule and program specific content see the website

Ops A La Carte announces their 2011 Open House which will be held on Thursday, June 16 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at our Santa Clara, CA facility.

We would love to have you come and help us kick off the new Ops A La Carte / Chart partnership with our HALT & HASS Open House.

You will meet many of our expert reliability consultants and learn the best practices in HALT/HASS.

Facility Tours and Presentations:

  • Ten Mistakes Made When Performing HALT Testing
  • How to Integrate HALT Testing into Existing Reliability Testing

Learn Practical Details About:

  • Secrets for cost-effective HALT/HASS installations
  • Pitfalls to avoid when evaluating HALT chambers
  • Most effective reliability techniques
  • LN2 provisioning, including VJ Pipe, Bulk, MicroBulk

Enjoy our BBQ Lunch and Beverages

Open House Location: Ops A La Carte, 990 Richard Avenue, Suite 101, Santa Clara, CA 95050

That’s right, the one you use to verify the torque on your fixture bolts. The one you send out periodically to get calibrated. Think of how much money you will save on calibration!

You see the thing is that that torque wrench is probably not doing you any good.

When we are securing a fixture to a shaker, we really don’t care about torque. We care about clamping force. Since we don’t have a good way to directly measure clamping force, we use torque as an indirect method. Torque is proportional to clamping force WHEN THE THREADS ARE PERFECT!

Do you look carefully at each bolt before you put it into the fixture? Do you look again after you remove it?

When you remove a bolt do you place it carefully in a wood or foam bolt holder to protect those threads? Or do you just toss it into the drawer until next time?

Go down to your vib lab right now and look at your bolts. Hold them up to a light so you can see how the threads look. If you see threads that are nicked, flattened or curled, just put it carefully back in the drawer, and toss your torque wrench in to the dumpster on your way back to your office.

You can thank me later.

FMEA is great tool used in many quality, reliability, and risk analysis processes.  It is not a highly sophisticated tool and is certainly not technically complex.  As a reliability tool, the FMEA is extremely effective in identifying the risks of greatest concern and thus focusing design and test activities to eliminate that risk or reduce it to tolerable levels.

Even though there is software available to assist in performing the FMEA, a spreadsheet is often adequate.  Getting the proper team together with the patience to conscientiously fill out the spreadsheet is often a more difficult task.

A typical FMEA process for a design FMEA might be composed of the following steps:

¨       Step 1: Review the Process/Design

¨       Step 2: Brainstorm potential failure modes

¨       Step 3: List potential effects of each failure mode

¨       Step 4: Assign a severity rating for each effect

¨       Step 5: Assign an occurrence rating for failure modes

¨       Step 6: Assign a detection rating for modes/effects

¨       Step 7: Calculate the risk priority numbers

¨       Step 8: Prioritize the failure modes for action

¨       Step 9: Take action to eliminate/reduce high-risk

¨       Step 10: Calculate the resulting RPN

I believe that most of these steps are quite easy to perform but one that seems to cause a great deal of confusion is Step 6: Assign a detection rating.  To assign a detection rating, the probability of detecting a failure before the effect is realized must be determined.  So, what does that mean?  I have seen a number of different explanations for what “detection” means for an FMEA.  Does that mean detecting a potential failure prior to shipment?  Does that mean detecting that a failure is imminent but prior to occurrence in the customer use environment (a type of prevention)?  Does that mean detecting the failure after it occurs but prior to it impacting the customer?  Or, does that mean just detecting that a failure has occurred?

Here are some opinions found in an internet search:

  • First, an engineer should look at the current controls of the system, that prevent failure modes from occurring or which detect the failure before it reaches the customer. Hereafter one should identify testing, analysis, monitoring and other techniques that can be or have been used on similar systems to detect failures. From these controls an engineer can learn how likely it is for a failure to be identified or detected.
  • The Design Control Detection then allows us to describe how we will test this design and the confidence we have that this test would find any potential failure mode(s) about which we are concerned.
  • Identify process or product related controls for each failure mode and then assign a detection ranking to each control. Detection rankings evaluate the current process controls in place.
  • A control can relate to the failure mode itself, the cause (or mechanism) of failure, or the effects of a failure mode.  To make evaluating controls even more complex, controls can either prevent a failure mode or cause from occurring or detect a failure mode, cause of failure, or effect of failure after it has occurred.
  • Design Control will almost certainly detect a potential cause/mechanism and subsequent failure mode.
  • Identify Current Controls (design or process). Current Controls (design or process) are the mechanisms that prevent the cause of the failure mode from occurring or which detect the failure before it reaches the Customer. The engineer should now identify testing, analysis, monitoring, and other techniques that can or have been used on the same or similar products/processes to detect failures. Each of these controls should be assessed to determine how well it is expected to identify or detect failure modes.
  • Detection is an assessment of the likelihood that the Current Controls (design and process) will detect the Cause of the Failure Mode or the Failure Mode itself, thus preventing it from reaching the Customer.
  • Identify the existing controls that identify and reduce failures.  Controls may be Preventive (designed in) or Detective (found by functional testing, etc.)–Preventive controls are those that help reduce the likelihood that a failure mode or cause will occur (affect occurrence value)–Detective controls are those that find problems that have been designed into the product (assigned detection value).
  • It is your ability to detect the failure when it occurs.
  • Basically prior to “impending” failure.  The new AIAG FMEA manual has implemented “2” control columns in an effort to assist in this endeavor.  Preventive Controls : Essenially what are you doing to prevent the failure from occurring. This includes such things as SW diagnostics.
    In an automotive application, an ABS lamp activates prior to impending failure to allow you to take it to the dealership .  Detective controls : Essentially what tests do you have in place that can detect the failure prior to design / process release to the end user.
  • Detection: Detect the Cause/Mechanism or Failure Mode, either by analytical or physical methods, before the item is released to production.
  • FMEA is a mitigation planning tool.  Detection must be relevant to mitigation.
  • Detection is sometimes termed EFFECTIVENESS. It is a numerical subjective estimate of the effectiveness of the controls to prevent or detect the cause or failure mode before the failure reaches the customer.  The assumption is that the cause has occurred.
  • A description of the methods by which occurrence of the failure mode is detected by the operator. The failure detection means, such as visual or audible warning devices, automatic sensing devices, sensing instrumentation or none will be identified. (MIL 1629)
  • The definition of Detection usually depends on the scope of the analysis. Definitions usually fall into one of three categories:

i) Detection during the design & development process

ii) Detection during the manufacturing process

iii) Detection during operation

It’s obvious that there are a number of opinions of what “detection” means in the context of an FMEA.


One thing is clear, is that during the preliminary discussions prior to beginning the detailed FMEA development, that everyone should agree on what detection means for the product being addressed.


Does anyone have an opinion on this subject?

Those items fail to meet requirements all the time, yet the REASONS those items fail are limited to just six causes:

a) Wrong application – not for this material, not for this temperature, not for this atmosphere

b) Out of date – date codes – these things have limited shelf life.

c) Bad mix – precise measurements are required

d) Bad surface preparation – mechanical or chemical

e) Exceeded Working time

f) Bad application technique – spray, dip, brush

If anyone has ever seen a paint, coating, adhesive or potting compound fail for any OTHER reason, please post here.