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March 20, 2024

The Reliability Engineering Dilemma

Maintenance Stage

Reliability is the characteristic of a process, system, or physical asset to continuously perform what it is designed to do. Around the turn of the last century, broader industry started adopting the concept of Reliability Engineering that had been nurtured in High Reliability Organisations (HRO’s) over the previous five decades.

However, the need for Reliability Engineering in HRO’s is clear: to avoid catastrophes in an environment where normal accidents can be expected due to risk factors and complexity. The consequence of poor reliability in HRO’s is severe.

In other industries this need is less obvious, so business leaders are challenged with finding the correct level of investment in reliability. Unlike HRO’s other businesses may not be inherently structured for reliability, so there are challenges on how to organise the role to meet business expectations and improve Reliability Engineer job satisfaction levels. In addition, business reliability objectives are often confused with tactical maintenance and engineering objectives, resulting in goal dissonance.

Reliability Engineering is field that lends itself to analysis, modelling, conceptualising, and abstract thought rather than absolutes and tangibles. So, it generally attracts intelligent and intuitive Engineers with personality traits that can make them difficult to manage in a traditional organisation. While they’re high in IQ, they’re often low in EQ and most have very little organisational awareness. They tend to be perfectionists; feel they need to have all the answers and are often opinionated.

In this session, Mike will share his experiences of how to recognise and address the organisational, work role and personality challenges that make up the reliability engineering dilemma within an organisational behavioural framework. He will also provide the Reliability Engineers in the room with tips and tricks to recognise their strengths and improvement opportunities, and ways to cope in an often strange organisational environment where interactions with people don’t fit deterministic or even probabilistic models.



Mike Greyling
Mike Greyling

Adjunct Principal


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