Interview

Despite advances in technology, systems reliability is getting worse

Collin Arocho
Leestijd: 11 minuten

With a steady increase in global product recalls, highly publicized fines for automotive companies and the recent Boeing tragedies, it’s clear that reliability is a major issue. According to world-renowned expert Michael Pecht, things are getting worse. In fact, he says many of these problems are completely self-created and entirely avoidable – that is, if companies are ready to get serious about reliability.

“Mike. Buddy. Please. Can you please retract your story? You know, it might be possible for us to fund some of your future research.” This was an offer from the CTO of one of the major players in the field of laminates manufacturing for PCBs. Unfortunately for him, Michael Pecht had just published a report about a faulty automotive engine control unit that used the PCBs the company produced. Pecht, citing the CTO again: “Besides, we buy from over twenty glass fabric vendors and they buy from numerous other companies – mostly in China – and they don’t know or monitor those suppliers.”

The problem for this CTO: hollow glass fibers used during manufacturing were causing leakage currents and intermittent shorts. In some cases, the current and resulting temperature could be high enough to cause a fire. Naturally, they wanted to mitigate the potential damage caused by the release of the report, even if they had to cough up some money to make it go away.

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