Reliability is expected from every manufactured product, but achieving reliability in an age of changing technology and increased product complexity can prove to be a challenge.
That was the conclusion of a new survey released by global electronics manufacturer Molex. Its survey of 750 manufacturing design and systems leaders found it difficult to achieve a balance between reliability and cost management. It also found the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), simulations and advanced analytics is creating a new opportunity to design and build reliability into finished products.
“Reliability is a real ‘rubber meets the road’ topic with far-reaching implications across every facet of product development, manufacturing and ultimately, end-user experience,” said Scott Whicker, SVP and president, Transportation Innovative Solutions, Molex, in a press release announcing the survey results. “It’s so critical to pick the right partners, deploy the most effective processes, and leverage the latest data insights to accelerate the design and development of the most reliable products possible.
“Our latest global industry survey offers a snapshot of changing expectations for product reliability and the realities of design tradeoffs,” Whicker added, “along with growing optimism that AI and data-driven innovations will take product reliability to the next level.”
The survey identified business imperatives that butted against the goal of reliability. It found that half of engineers surveyed put cost considerations ahead of reliability when asked to make tradeoffs, while 46% cited manufacturability and 35% mentioned the user experience as factors that impacted reliability.
But reliability does drive brand loyalty, according to 54% of respondents, and 52% said customers expect products to perform well under any environmental conditions.
A key factor in the survey was the relationship between engineering and suppliers, with 74% citing a risk to reliability because of shortened design cycles. Engineers surveyed considered the supplier relationship to be essential. with 91% noting a strong relationship between having a trusted supplier and being able to deliver reliable products, and 96% stating they had changed suppliers due to issues with supply chain reliability.