What are common mistakes reliability engineers make?

Answered April 25 2019

Everyone makes mistakes. There’s really no shame in make a mistake; the key is to recognize when one is made and then taking steps to correct it. Reliability engineering is a complex process with lots of room for potential errors, lost time, and wasted money. Take a look at these common mistakes and see if any of them resonate with you and your organization.

Solving Only Problems You See

When you’re part of a team that’s responsible for keeping a facility up and running 24/7, it’s easy to keep yourself busy with all the problems that inevitably creep up each and every day. Obviously, if a critical piece of equipment is down, someone will have to fix it ASAP. The mistake in this area is that it’s sometimes easy just to stop there. Reliability engineers must take things to the next level and find the problems that you can’t immediately see but could be costing your organization lots of money and time.

Focusing on Short-Term Solutions

It’s easy to see how sticking your finger in a dam leak can “solve” a short-term problem, but if nothing else is done, that dam is going to burst, and you’ll have a much bigger issue down the road. The same is true for reliability engineering. Yes, a short-term measure may need to be taken, but a great reliability engineer will use that band-aid solution to buy enough time to delve deeper and find the root cause to the bigger issue. Employing complex problem-solving skills and asking the question, “Why is such-and-such happening?” over and over again are critical to finding and creating long-term solutions.

Staying Inside the Box

I get it. It’s comfortable inside the box. You know a certain set of solutions can solve a certain set of problems. It makes life a lot easier to plug-and-play, especially on hectic days. The key to addressing this mistake is for reliability engineers to never settle for the status quo. The company culture must encourage and support searching for best practices inside and outside of the organization. The reliability engineer must have a passion for finding new and more effective alternatives to age-old problems. This forward-thinking attitude will make a world of difference in tackling this common mistake.