Focusing on Reliability in an R & D Environment: Using Knowledge to Obtain Commitment, Responsibility, and Reward


Malsbury, Judith A.; Graham, James B.   (1992, ASQC)   Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08543

Annual Quality Congress, Nashville TN    Vol. 46    No. 0
QICID: 9924    May 1992    pp. 985-991
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Article Abstract

Instruments critical to research efforts must be operational as much as possible. Princeton University instituted a Quality Assurance program to ensure the operation of its Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR).

They collected two different type of operational data: individual component failures and system failures. Devising an orderly failure reporting system allowed their Quality Assurance/Reliability department to detect chronic and recurrent problems and to bring those problems to management's attention for control. The R & D department also maintained an operation log that identified individual systems that caused downtime. Reports based on the two kinds of data circulate to management, who then must commit to fixing the problem. Both managers and staff are responsible for system performance.

Data collection has steadily improved access to the reactor. Since less of the budget must be spent on correcting problems (due to an efficient reporting system) more money is available for research. The authors include some cautions: monitor the process not the people, use data to improve system reliability not for criticism, and make sure everyone understands the concepts of reliability improvement and agrees on the system's purpose.

By following these guidelines, an R&D department can use quality management practices to improve reliability.


Case study,Department of Energy (DOE),Research and development (R&D),Quality assurance (QA),Reliability,Nuclear

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