Entropy versus warranty: how companies figure out how breakable their products are

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11 Responses to “Entropy versus warranty: how companies figure out how breakable their products are”

  1. Mr_Smooth says:

    I read once (maybe apocryphal, I dunno) about Henry Ford inspecting auto junkyards. The parts in the junkyards outlasted the cars.

    So he learned which parts were overbuilt and changed them to be less durable.

    • Jerril says:

      Making them use less metal, thus less resources, reducing the price of the car as well as reducing the weight, which in turn improves handling and fuel efficiency. I really don’t care if my bumper lasts 50 years beyond my car, it’s not doing me any good at that point.

      There’s no point hanging a tank shell off my sedan suspension – I’m not trying to invade France here, just commute.

      • GrumpySteen says:

         The bumper is probably the one of the worst parts you could choose as an example.  It’s designed to take an impact and protect the rest of the car, so it tends to be more durable than the rest of the car.  Changing the bumper so that it won’t last as long would be a bad idea.

  2. Kai Sikorski says:

    “In 2009, Mohawk Industries—one of the largest makers of carpeting in the country—was forced to discontinue an entire line of carpet tiles when the tiles failed unexpectedly”

    How do carpet tiles fail unexpectedly? I’m so perplexed.

  3. John Smith says:

    I’ve heard product designers brag about only designing for warranty life and being proud of it.

  4. airshowfan says:

    I look forward to passing this article around the office tomorrow. My group does durability research for Boeing… (No, I can’t give you any more details about that 737 than have already been made public). Yes, we’re fatigue-testing the 787.

    Many people in our field, by the way, are big fans of the poem “The Deacon’s Masterpiece“, about a one-horse shay “that was built in such a logical way, it ran a hundred years to a day, and then of a sudden… went to pieces all at once — all at once, and nothing first — just as bubbles do when they burst” because each part was exactly as durable as the other, no more, no less.

  5. BonzoDog1 says:

    Tired of coffee makers that die? Get a teakettle and a filter holder and carafe. I’m willing to expend a little more of my time to avoid replacing a morning necessity every year or so.
    I’m typing on a 10-year-old Powerbook, which serves my needs, after a hard-drive replacement with no loss because I had backup.
    On the other hand, I’m better off not having a ’55 Chevy as a daily driver, for cost and safety reasons.
    As money, energy and petrochemicals become more dear, the “mil-spec” properties of products that are not affected by technological advances will gain value.

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