User reengineering is an environmental and cost effective, approach to increasing the usefulness and longevity of products, and reduce ongoing maintenance. A staggering amount of product ends up in landfills because it is cheaper to replace it than fix it, this is due to the cost of labor involved in repair vs. assembly and raw materials. However, many items are discarded due to a single component that failed, and had that single repair been made it could have likely doubled or more the life of the product.
User reengineering is the redesign of a product, not for resale, but by a consumer or user. Historically, concept and craft were significant components of products as they were intended to last indefinitely (with proper maintenance and repair). Modern products often have "life expectancies" due to rapid innovation rate, disposability, automation, and shorter-term finance paradigms which can decrease producd service life-terms. Even many premium products have succumbed to these pressures, and often cannot be relied on to function or last as might be expected. Products with high generational technology improvement rates combined with complex build structure may not be good reengineering candidates, as they become obsolete rapidly (eg. compact cassette player).
User reengineering is not repair (restoring to original or similar condition), retrofitting (changing or adapting the purpose), or patching (temporary fix), rather it improves the functionality, and/or durability, of the product over its original design. A concern of User reengineering is that the product could become unstable or have a dangerous result if done without sufficient reflection and knowledge. User reengineering requires thorough study of the functionality, purpose and entire structural make-up. One should have sufficient understanding of the science behind a particular solution, and thoroughly test (at least at the level of the original manufacturer), as well as, accept liability for the altered design, which would most likely void any manufacturer's responsibility.
User reengineering is based on correcting three common causes of product failure:
1. Contamination — The product is not self-cleaning therefore cannot prevent parts from eventually becoming jammed, overheating, or otherwise stressed. After a period of time contamination will damage parts by wear. A well designed product will clean itself or be permanently shielded from contamination. The cost and difficulty in devising contamination free design from the start is why the vast majority of products are deficient in this aspect. In many cases, improving seals, membranes, filters, etc is a preventative solution. Extensive product flaws, are usually not reengineerable. (Cleaning parts may repair the product temporarily.)
2. Most Stressed Component(s) — The main working part(s) are not relatively as durable as the rest of the parts (have a component failure rate) unequal to the standard failure rate curve. i.e. Hardware failure is high at the beginning of the life cycle. slows during the rated useful life of the product, and once again increases towards the end.  Replacing one or two parts with the most stress will greatly increase the lifetime of the product or even eliminate planned obsolescence if present; although this is unlikely in the case of disposable products due to their high ratio of low quality materials. Therefore, modifications of products which were intended to last a year or more are most effective.
3. Components in Conflict — This is probably the most challenging modification. Some essential parts of the device are in natural conflict with other essential parts. If two or more parts naturally work against each other, the cause would be of a design nature. The solution in this case is redesign. e.g. a cutting device in which two blades collide to cause both to become duller vs. a self-sharpening blade which abrades a guard in such a way that the wear causes the blade to sharpen itself. If the self-sharpening blade and guard were of sufficient hardness and density to last nearly indefinitely they would be considered permanent parts, rather than consumables. Consumable parts are expected to be replaced by maintenance (e.g. electrodes of an arc, oil, pencil lead, tire tread, etc.)
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Hardware failure bell curve –
See also[edit | edit source]
- Planned obsolescence
- Reliability engineering
- Failure rate
- User innovation
- Fixes that fail
- Accelerated life testing
- Planned obsolescence
- DTF Designed to Fail
Links[edit | edit source]
- What is Reliability Engineering?
- Understanding "Mean Time Between Failure"
- The Wonderful "One-Hoss Shay": A Logical Story Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)
- Why breaking things can bring a smile to your-face
- Design for Disassembly guide pdf