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Proactive systems engineering

  1. Nov 19, 2008 #1
    I work in an company making moderately complicated instruments or systems. For most cases they work within normal parameters. However, it seems that there are some situations that have not been anticipated. The design in our company sets barriers in front of hazards that may cause accidents. This includes using design standards, best practices, extensive documentation and testing etc. Apparantly it is still nearly impossible to conceive every possible scenario considering the financial constraints. So is there a better paradigm for design and production for systems to be as resilient and adaptive as possible to different conditions?
     
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  3. Nov 19, 2008 #2

    Danger

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    That seems a bit vague; I'm not sure exactly what you want to achieve. If I understand you correctly, all that I can think of would be to hire some radical thinkers or use 'fuzzy logic' predictive software to envision more possibilities than the normal crew comes up with.
     
  4. Nov 19, 2008 #3

    FredGarvin

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    Danger, what is being asked about is product liability.

    I must say that those two words invoke a lot of fear in many industries. I remember sitting through a training seminar given by our head lawyer and a consultant. It painted a pretty poor picture from a designer's standpoint. The things I pulled from it were:

    - It is the designer's job to do whatever it takes to think of every possible use your product could be used for, right or wrong.
    - Don't e-mail questionable or harmful data, even within your company.
    - No matter what, some moron will be out there that will get hurt using your product because you can't design for everything.

    I wish I could say that there is a process. Other than your company having it's own internal methods and following as many established codes. I think you need to present anything you can think of and then let your management make the decision as to whether or not to protect themselves by designing into the product a means to prevent each scenario.
     
  5. Nov 19, 2008 #4

    Danger

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    Thanks for the clarification, Fred, and apologies to Misgfool for failing to understand.
    This can indeed become ridiculous after a while. It's sort of like someone who originally just disapproves of trophy hunting escalating to becoming a vegan. If every effort is taken to ensure that there's no possibility of something being misused, nothing could ever work at all. We'd have to start making steak knives out of cotton. No, wait... that could be used to choke someone... :rolleyes:
     
  6. Nov 19, 2008 #5
    What is questionable or harmful data?

    That's why I have to try to develop better ways of doing things. Human users are not always morons, but when they learn to use the instruments they start making tweaks in their environment. At the same time we are updating for example the software. Now we don't know of the tweaks the customer is making and customer may not fully understand how our updates are affecting operation of the instruments. So eventually disaster strikes.

    Don't the internal methods form the process? Trying to improve it takes some of the burden from the poor designer. I would like to hear/read about internal methods and way of thinking in your or any other company.
     
  7. Nov 19, 2008 #6
    No problem. But could I ask, that you would not use a capital letter in the beginning of misgfool. It's not my (birth)name.

    This must be the fuzzy logic part?
     
  8. Nov 19, 2008 #7

    Danger

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    For sure. Sorry. I just automatically capitalize usernames because they're proper nouns. I'll refrain from doing so with yours in the future.

    :rofl:
    Absolutely. Lint everywhere. :biggrin:
     
  9. Nov 20, 2008 #8

    FredGarvin

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    By that I mean any kind of test data, opinions, etc...that can be pulled out in a trial to show what your company may or may not have known about the liability and why you made certain decisions.

    That is where you need the best documentation stating the limitations that your company expects the customers to in terms of their tweaking. If they go beyond those limits you may have covered your butts...but maybe not.

    In my line of work, our company doesn't really have to worry about what you are asking for. We have different headaches in proving that our engines won't break down, etc...However, if we were designing lawnmowers, you bet we would have to do everything imaginable to prevent someone from hurting themselves. Those kinds of things are the responsibilities of the designers.
     
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