Design is a vast subject with never-ending ramifications; a subject which often means very different things to different people. Yet is is probably the keystone to reliability. Presenting the 1974 James Clayton lecture to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which was intended to summarise eight conferences or symposia held by that body from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies, the author concluded “the significant theme which has recurred over and over again at conferences … … is the matching of the design to the requirements of the user in its intended environment, and the necessity of good communications to achieve it. Common sense tells us this is so, and mathematical theory supports it by revealing the critical role played by the safety margin and by the loading roughness All my theoretical and practical studies of the subject, which fully support each other, have led in one direction only — the importance of design and development in achieving quality. This stands out above all else.” Clearly, then, there are good and valid reasons for taking this subject seriously.
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