Reliability management of machine tool technology: a case study of current practice

J.U. Ahmed, D.J. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Considerable attention has been given in the literature to identifying and describing the effective elements which positively affect the improvement of product reliability. These have been perceived by many as the 'state of the art' in the manufacturing industry. The applicability, diffusion and effectiveness of such methods and philosophies, as a means of systematically improving the reliability of a product, come in the main from case studies and single and infra-industry empirical studies. These studies have both been carried out within the wider context of quality assurance and management, and taking reliability as a discipline in its own right. However, it is somewhat of a surprise that there are no recently published findings or research studies on the adoption of these methods by the machine tool industry. This may lead one to construct several hypothesised paradigms: (a) that machine tool manufacturers compared to other industries, are slow to respond to propositions given in the literature by theorists or (b) this may indicate that a large proportion of the manufacturers make little use of the reliability improvement techniques as described in the literature, with the overall perception that they will not lead to any significant improvements? On the other hand, it is evident that hypothetical verification of the operational and engineering methods of reliability achievement and improvement adopted in the machine tool industry is less widely researched. Therefore, research into this area is needed in order to explore the 'state of the art' practice in the machine tool industry. This is in terms of the status, structure and activities of the operation of the reliability function. This paper outlines a research programme being conducted with the co-operation of a leading machine tool manufacturer, whose UK manufacturing plant produces in the main Vertical Machining Centres (VMCs) and is continuously undergoing incremental transitions in product reliability improvement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-408
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Materials and Product Technology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • machine tool technology
  • product reliability
  • reliability engineering
  • reliability management
  • reliability tools
  • machine tool manufacturing
  • vertical machining centres


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