You have developed an innovative product. Or are currently developing a new product. In any case, you want your clients to be able to rely on quality – and a long lifetime of the product. At Holland Innovative, we support production processes with Reliability Engineering. Coen Smits has been working as a Product & Process Specialist for more than 10 years and shares his personal experience.

Reliability-expert Coen Smits

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself?

“My name is Coen Smits, and I am a promoted experimental scientist. I started working as a postdoctoral researcher at RWTH Aachen University after I completed my studies at the Eindhoven University of Technology. The academic research at an educational institution turned out to be not my cup of tea, even though I liked the working environment. I decided to return to the Netherlands and start a new job as a Process Development Engineer at OTB Solar (now Meyer Burger), a company that delivers production lines for solar cells production.
Holland Innovative provided Six Sigma training sessions at OTB Solar. That’s how we got in touch. My thoughts: this is a company that really suits me. I, therefore, decided to go and work for Holland Innovative instead. I have really come to appreciate the variety in my job, especially the many different company visits. It is refreshing. And the key to staying sharp and focused.”

Which companies can rely on your support, and what is your current role?

“Over the past 10 years, I have had the privilege to work for quite a few great companies, especially in the high-tech industry. Think of Philips, ASML, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. I provide training sessions and work for clients on a project basis. These trainings encompass Physics of Failure: what is the failure mechanism of a product? I also offer Root Cause Analysis training, and RF1 trainings will soon be added to the list as well. During these training sessions, participants learn all about predicting product reliability, based on field and test data.”

Our Data Science for Reliability and Root Cause Analysis Seminar will take place on October 14 – 15, 2021. Read more.

What are the most important Reliability issues?

“A lot of organizations struggle with Physics of Failure. It is often unclear why a product breaks down after some time. Organizations sometimes lack insight in failure mechanisms and contemplate on how they could have avoided the breakage. There is a strong desire to solve this issue, but cutting corners is no option here. I coach many professionals who are experts in product development. The challenge here is to understand why a product malfunctions after a while.”

Reliability-expert Coen Smits

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Which methods help bring companies forward?

“It differs. Every issue requires a customized approach. It also depends on the phase in which the product currently is. Does the product need to be reliable, and do you already wish to anticipate during product development? If so, then we start off establishing product and reliability standards. The method applied during this phase is called Design for Reliability (DfR). Using a Failure Mode & Effect Analysis (FMEA), we identify failure risks and the effects associated.

It could just as well be that you have already developed a product that has not yet been delivered. Its reliability still needs to be proven. A client then often wishes for a test plan. We will identify the most important failure mechanisms prior to performing the test if this has not been done yet. This sometimes requires additional Reliability procedures.

Some organizations experience difficulty after launching a product. Understandably, they want to know how this could have happened and what they can do to solve the problem. Our approach is as follows: we first carry out an analysis to map out the severity and extent of the problem. If desired, we carry out an additional Root Cause Analysis through experimentation. This helps us determine the cause. As it could be either a quality or reliability issue, for example.”

What was your favorite project?

“That must have been my very first project, at a company in Nieuwegein. Here I contributed to the development of an aviation cooking device. The client wanted a test plan. We made a careful assumption of the environmental conditions to which the device would be exposed. We had not received all the necessary information from the client, and eventually received a phone call from the test center informing us that the device was in test mode: it had malfunctioned. Our careful assumption resulted in severe testing. In the end, we trained the employees of the organization. They now have their own Reliablity department and perform tests at component level. This helps them identify the cause of product malfunction much better. We helped the company get on track; they can now do it themselves. I think it is great that I could contribute to this as well.”

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Join Our New Seminar

Data Science for Reliability and Root Cause Analysis Seminar will take place on October 14 – 15, 2021
Do you wish to incorporate the advantages of Reliability and Data Science into your working methods and services? We would be delighted to have you during our two-day seminar.

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