27 Nov 2023 -

Reliability given backseat to costs, says new survey

industrial automation

Achieving reliability is one of the biggest challenges of electronics design and can sometimes be sacrificed to cost reductions, concludes a recent survey by electronics manufacturer, Molex.

The survey reported by MachineDesign, encompassing the perspectives of 750 manufacturing design and systems leaders, revealed the intricate balance between achieving product reliability and managing costs in an era of evolving technology and increasing product complexity.

Scott Whicker, SVP and president of Transportation Innovative Solutions at Molex, emphasised the importance of reliability in product development and manufacturing. He noted, “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.” Whicker also highlighted the role of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), simulations, and advanced analytics in enhancing product reliability.

The survey found that engineers often grapple with competing business imperatives. While reliability is crucial, cost considerations often take precedence, with half of the engineers prioritising costs over reliability. Furthermore, factors like manufacturability and user experience also impact reliability decisions. Despite these challenges, a significant 54% of respondents acknowledged that reliability fosters brand loyalty, and 52% recognised that customers expect consistent performance under various conditions.

A critical aspect of the survey was the link between engineering and supply chain management. An overwhelming 74% identified shortened design cycles as a risk to reliability, underscoring the essential role of supplier relationships in product development. The survey revealed that a strong supplier partnership is key to delivering reliable products, with 91% affirming this connection. Moreover, a striking 96% of engineers reported changing suppliers due to supply chain reliability issues.

This survey underlines the crucial balance between cost, reliability, and supply chain dynamics in the electronics industry, highlighting the need for strategic partnerships and innovative approaches to tackle these challenges.

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