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The Reliability Cycle: Understanding the Booms and Busts of Reliability in Electronics

Posted by Author on Aug 28, 2016 4:45:04 PM

Those who interact closely with DfR realize that we proscribe to the theory of the ‘reliability cycle’. The early years of electronics, 1950’s and 1960’s, were disasters for reliability and led to the establishment of the organizations and tools currently used today (IRPS, MEOST, RAMS, FMEA, etc.). Establishment of large electronic OEMs such as Motorola, Texas Instruments, and IBM in 1970’s and early 1980’s resulted in extensive reliability practices and organizations that are still awe-inspiring, even today.

The breakup of these organizations and the dominance of cheap consumer electronics in the early 1980’s through the mid 1990’s brought on electronics that would fail if you breathed on it too hard. Realizing that some degree of reliability was required and faced with the great uncertainties of environmental legislation, international OEMs brought new tools and new resources that rivaled the activities of their peers 25 years ago, but without the excessive costs that killed market share (think planned obsolescence: it just needs to be reliable enough). Certain electronic OEMs quadrupled their reliability staffs in a matter of few years.

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