A multidisciplinary team of researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) works in close collaboration with their industrial partners, where each researcher focuses on a different aspect of the soft reliability problem domain. The combination of these different views and expertises enables a comprehensive understanding of the problems to be addressed, and the validation of developed methods by industrial cases leads to a set of theory and tools that is applicable and useful not only within the academic community, but also for practitioners in the industrial world.

General Project

The aim of the project is to provide a method and a set of corresponding models for the analysis and management of Soft Reliability Problems that can be used as an integral part of the product creation process of highly innovative products, such as professional office equipment or multimedia consumer products. The project addresses an important bottleneck that prevents technically feasible products from being accepted and appreciated by customers in the market.


karapanos.jpg Recent research in soft reliability (Ouden et al., 2006) revealed that almost 50% of product returns in the consumer electronics industry is not attributed to a violation of product specifications, but to flawed decisions mostly made in the concept design phase. Current research in the field of Human-Computer Interaction pays attention to the issues of product quality that relate to the aesthetic, emotional, and social aspects of a product. But how can we account for such non-instrumental quality aspects early in the design process? And how can we design products that comply with the values of a targeted audience? This project aims at developing methods that can provide insight in users’ attitudes towards early concepts and account for diversity in users’ preferences.
Evangelos Karapanos (User-Centered Engineering)

koca.jpg The number of soft failures reported from the field by the users, seeking help about or service for their product, has alarmingly increased especially for innovative, multifunctional and adaptive products. An enormous increase in technological complexity leads to incomplete product specifications, and a gap between specifications and user requirements. A pre-condition to address soft failures is the ability to quickly and effectively evaluate the information coming from real users for iterative improvement actions. But so far, a structured theory and approach to address soft failures has been lacking. Therefore, we developed an operational quality analysis and improvement method with a user focus, which is intended to be applicable in the collaborative development of various products across different industries.
Aylin Koca (Business Process Design)

ASCII Especially in strongly innovative product creation processes, developers are often uncertain about the way their products will be eventually used in the field. If a problem occurs, answers to questions like “Was this function broken from the beginning, or did it stop working after it was used for a longer period already?” (first use vs. extended use) can help to effectively track existing problems. Therefore, we develop a new system-architecture that helps to define observation (i.e., logging) requirements on an abstract level. Part of this architecture is a graphical specification language, which helps to define platform- and system-independent observation applications. See Model-driven Design of Self-observing Products for further information about this part of the project.
Mathias Funk (Electronic Systems)

rozinat.jpg Process mining is a field of research, which attempts to extract process-related information from log data. A number of real-life applications have shown that, this way, process analysis can be based on objective information (that is, how the process is actually executed as opposed to what people think how it is executed). In this part of the project, we focus on how process mining could be applied to gain insight into both the field feedback process (e.g., based on help desk and repair shop data) and the usage process of a product (based on log data recorded by the product itself). Knowledge about the feedback process helps to improve the efficiency of information flows in the product creation process. Knowledge about user profiles helps to effectively ensure the reliability of (future) products as, e.g., test sequences can be defined based on realistic usage scenarios.
Anne Rozinat (Information Systems)