Updated: Dec 13, 2019
Product performance and reliability is a vital topic. It decides impressions left on consumer minds; Consumer impressions decide company reputation; The company's reputation decides future sales.; Future purchases determine company growth or survival.
A warranty analysis is a subset of product performance and reliability analysis. Warranty is limited in duration. Performance and reliability also encompass the period after the warranty is over. One cannot keep customers happy by only managing product reliability only during the warranty period. It has to be maintained throughout the lifetime of the product.
Analysis of product service data is like cutting a diamond. A well-cut diamond has the appropriate number of facets, not too many, not too few. This appropriate number of facets decides the value of a diamond. So is the case with proper analysis.
For warranty data, more the facets deeper are the insights. One certainly wants to have the same level of insights for every set of data. Additionally, one wants to look at the warranty data from all different angles. We also want to be consistent every single time we do the analysis.
Every CEO has a set of questions on their minds about their product performance after the sale. Unfortunately, these questions are not always answered in a reasonable time frame. Since they remain unanswered, parts with low reliability continue to infiltrate in complex products, and they continue to fail, especially when they shouldn't. This leaves a mark on the customer's mind, and if they have had a bad experience, they vow never to buy the same product again. Thus, it is in the interest of the manufacturer to identify problems and fix them as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, only wishful thinking doesn't help one achieve their goals. The reality is that the analysis of the service center data takes time. Often, it takes one month. By the time one is ready with the investigation, the next month rolls in, and the data for additional month peeks in. Even if the analysis is completed in time, there is no guarantee that all different facets have been looked through. Often, there is no consistency in the way the data is analyzed.
Once the list of parts needing further investigation is ready, then the next step is to find the staff to inspect the parts. However, there is never enough staff available to inspect all parts. Thus, it is necessary to prioritize parts one should inspect first. At times the parts may need to be redesigned and re-manufactured. The delay in one part of the chain leads to delays in fixing the problem out in the field. This delay further leads to more failures in service. More failures lead to more claims. More claims lead to more bleeding in profits.
So, what questions do every CEO wish to get answers to? The questions are as follows.
Are there any potential process issues? When we produce a thousand units and ship them out of the factory, can we tell five most likely failures that would occur in the field? What is the cost of not fixing those failed parts? Which component should be inspected, and when? Out of the list of parts to be fixed, how can we prioritize the work list? Which parts need engineering design changes to be incorporated for product reliability improvement? How to find the best practices for part design and to minimize further financial losses?
Answer to the warranty costs reduction lies in answering the five questions. The answers followed by right and timely actions lead to high standards of product performance and reliability. The rapid actions eventually lead to winning the hearts of customers. Customer satisfaction ultimately culminates in the company's profitability and growth.