Pattern recognition for error-proofing

R. Shekar | Updated on February 20, 2011 Published on February 20, 2011


The Marketing Director was very much dissatisfied with the Technical Service Manager. He felt the company was far too stringent in admitting claims under warranty. Consequently, the customers were growing apprehensive and threatened to switch loyalties, he feared.

The Technical Service Manager(TSM) was invited to the board to explain. When he presented the data, the Board was enlightened on the one hand, but felt inadequate to suggest a way out.

Data points

The TSM flashed data (See Graph) on the recent study of ‘field incidents' that had been reported to him with a request for settlement under the terms of warranty offered by the company.

The TSM pleaded inability to admit them for the reasons cited as below.

Time sensitive - Ageing: Any and every item including mechanical components have a shelf life. Beyond that point they begin to age very quickly. When the components are used far beyond their rated life, they are completely ‘used up,' and get disqualified to merit a replacement under warranty.

Usage intensity - Fatigue: When the customers are advised to ‘load' the items within the limits of safety prescribed for them, they ‘fail' prematurely when overloaded.

That is not a technical fault.

Usage Severity - Prolonged overload: The conditions of usage are reflected in the ‘memory' of the component.

Severity of usage over prolonged periods of overload is difficult to conceal or ignore.

Cyclical recurrence: Some customers make a habit of periodically ‘appealing' for a technical consideration in the hope of breaking through the ‘policy' by default. When their claims are consistently ‘denied,' they mistakenly assume it to be directed personally at them and take needless offence.

Circumstantial recurrence: Sometimes the failures may seem to suggest a pattern but may be difficult to establish.

These have to be dismissed as sheer acts of coincidence.

Erratic deviation: There are cases of erratic aberrations that cannot be attributed to the company. These cases may merit an exceptional consideration that I do not possess.

Question for the Directors

“As a Technical Service Manager, if I am unable to establish a technically valid reason for admitting warranty, I will be failing in my duty if I admitted them,” said the TSM.

“If the Marketing Director wishes to make an exception and admit them, that would be a decision dictated purely by commercial considerations. I had already recommended him to take it up with the board. I believe I can only do what I am expected to do. If any of the board members were in my shoes, what other alternatives would they have explored?” he posed.


Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on February 20, 2011
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor