Quality and Reliability Engineering
In times of economic downturn, any ideas that can help pull an organisation out of its present state are worthy of attention. Some of the research topics in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering are full of such ideas. These are topics that generally come under the classification of QUALITY AND RELIABILITY ENINEERING (QRE).
The final objective of QRE research is to enable organisations in the manufacturing and service sectors operate with greater productivity, offering products and services that can compete with the best to be found anywhere in the world. Quality refers to the characteristics and performance of products and services as presented to the customers, and reliability focuses on how the desired properties are able to sustain themselves during the lifetime of the products and services. Technical considerations are of course fundamental to such studies; the emphasis in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department is on the analytical aspect, making heavy use of statistical tools for data collection, analysis, interpretation, and decision making. (Figure 1)
Three specific areas of work are highlighted in the articles that follow: Manufacturing Quality and Reliability, Accelerated Testing for Reliability, and Computer Software Reliability. All these areas are directly related to the operations and competitiveness of some major sectors in our industry. Some of the research work is being carried out with international collaboration, involving researchers from as far as Sweden and New Zealand. It is not difficult to realise that this type of research is extremely cost effective: very little capital investment in research hardware is needed, yet the results can always lead to direct value added to our manufacturing and service operators. (Figure 2)
Figure 1: Methodology for Quality and Reliability Engineering.
Figure 2: Typical high-quality manufacturing environment.
Quality and Reliability Engineering sees no disciplinary boundaries: its methodologies are applicable to any and every branch of engineering and business. In particular, the systems perspective employed at the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department will often lend broad views and sharpened insights to industrial leaders and managers in their pursuit of quality excellence and business viability. It sounds trite to say this, but apart from technical innovation and entrepreneurship, QRE is indeed the key to global competitiveness in the next millennium.