A Designer’s Dilemma

Failure is part of life which we all know and appreciate. In a typical Scenario assume there is a field failure. This can be of any product for automotive, appliances, Engineering or any other manufacturing industry. Again the failure can be of two types. Firstly it can be a performance failure where product may not perform to the expectation. Secondly, it can be a structural failure.

In some cases the structural failure is seen only after taking out product, reported not meeting the requirement. In the enclosed photograph a window grill mechanism in a room window when not functioning properly was opened and it was found the lever was sheared from the riveting location.

At this point in time, we assume that QFD ( Quality function deployment) is done properly meaning that all customer usage and loading requirements are captured and considered in the design . Again the design has been validated based on the derived load cycle for performance and durability and found meeting the specification.

Still, in the event of any field failure i.e at the customer location, the immediate response in the organization is to demand the design change. This is required from Quality, customer care, service and many such departments . Probably it is felt that to convince the customer the design change will be an appropriate solution.

In many cases this design change may involve increase in cost, complexity due to changes in other peripheral components . A detailed failure investigation i.e root cause analysis is required for such failures to understand upto the level of materials and manufacturing processes. It may be a materials issue in terms of not meeting the grade or process i.e faulty heat treatment, improper welding, improper molding or defects in case of elastomer and polymer components, improper machining dimensions etc

With a detailed root cause analysis we can come to know about shortcomings in Material and /or process issues and variations. This will help us to improve capability of the process and making it robust.

We at Materials Info consultancy would be too willing to support you with such analysis for your existing and new product development areas. Also we can support to establish the process at your supplier’s end .

Here we have not discussed about the failures arising out of usage conditions. This we will discuss in our next article.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *