Title: Poor Product Manufacture is the Most Significant Factor in the Failure of Any Engineering Design
According to Gagg (2005, pp.784-785), road accidents in the UK claim about 3000 deaths annually. Also, they cause about 38,000 major and about 300,000 minor injuries every year. Strange though it may seem accidents in home and garden cause much more injuries, with 300 deaths, 168,300 serious injuries and approximately 2.9 million hospital visits (Gagg, 2005, pp.784-785). Many of these cases are caused by misuse or inadequate human behavior, but many can be attributed to poor quality, poor product design or manufacturing faults. These numbers must be alarming for manufacturers of products for everyday use, and must encourage them to improve the quality and reliability control.
Though there are many qualifying organizations, special legislation, sector-specific codes and quality standards created to ensure quality and good practice, the situation still leaves much to be desired. There was and there are many cases when people suffer from improperly manufactured items for home use.
It is easy to understand why consumers are disappointed in such goods. A manufacturing manager from USA wrote an article devoted to the frequently asked question – ‘Didn’t anybody test this?’ This article reflects consumers’ attitude to the goods of poor quality. When buyers return their purchases that failed to perform usual operations, they want to know, why these things were not tested but were sold. Dalgleish himself was disappointed (2006, p.14), because he knew that many of products he sold had been actually tested. When he started his own business and tried “hundreds of art kits and art materials”, “few of these projects worked like they claimed” (2006, p.14).He admits that only about 20% of products meet the expectations. It happens because, for cheap items, people do not bother to ask for refund, and manufacturers do not bother to produce safe goods. But for cheap goods proper manufacturing is essential, as daily lives depend on daily things!
There are many ways in which a product can fail. The main causes of product failure are design failures, manufacturing failures, extreme conditions and human factor.
According to Le May and Deckker, (2009, p. 1153) human factor is the reason of 80% of all types of accidents. Undoubtedly, human intervention is crucial, as very few machines possess intelligent control and can assess and handle a situation quickly enough. Whether intentional or not, human acts influence all situations (potentially hazardous or not). For example, car drivers and operators of manufacturing equipment (or any machinery) can influence the machine in many ways – intentionally act in an emergency situation or unintentionally make an error; both of the acts aforementioned can lead to an accident. But again, if everything works well and is properly manufactured, and when there are invisible faults, the results will be different.
Design failures can be attributed to poor knowledge of ergonomics, “philosophy, ethics, and management, for instance – in addition to the engineering sciences” (Le May and Deckker, 2009, p.1154). When in an emergency situation, human brain may think in absolutely unpredictable ways in search of help. In order to avoid accidents, designers must think of tens or even hundreds of situations which may include the designed item. For daily use, every product must be easy-to-use, comprehensible and reliable, and it must be clear what to do in case of an unusual situation – how to stop it, how to avoid danger. Also, designer must think of materials used and their properties. An ideally designed object implies many situations foreseen and their potential danger eliminated. However, inappropriate exterior design features can be detected either visually or by testing, and manufacturing or material faults can be detected only under certain conditions, if not by special examination after a certain time of exploitation.
The next part of the paper is devoted to manufacturing failures. Actually, any product reliability depends mainly on the quality of manufacturing. Of course, there are quality systems established in all stages of the manufacturing process. All personnel must perform their tasks with quality and reliability of the final product in mind. As Teng and Ho (1996, p.8) claim, the product and design engineers must embed quality and reliability into part design, since even a most advanced and reliable manufacturing operation will not be able to improve the product reliability over the designed reliability. The best product reliability is the designed reliability specified in the product design. So, when a product fails, two things must be checked for adequacy – its design and its quality of manufacture.
There are many examples of forensic examinations, in which manufacturing flaws caused accidents. Gagg devoted his work to the failures of products for home and leisure activities.