There are many benefits to a company when they have access to good field failure data. Most of the benefits are categorized as saving money. At the same time, most of the expenditure to get good failure data is already being spent. Given an incremental cost of improving data collection quality and better data analysis, the nice benefits could be achieved.
Good high quality field failure data has often been described as the ultimate source of failure data. However, not all field failure studies are high quality. Some field studies simply do not have the needed information. Some field studies make unrealistic assumptions. The results can be quite different depending on methods and assumptions. Some methods produce optimistic results that can result in bad designs and unsafe processes.
This paper presents some common field failure analysis techniques, shows some of the limitations of the methods and describes important attributes of a good field failure data collection system.