You're right about finding trouble shooting and repair info on the Web. I've done a number of minor repairs on my minivan via Web instructions. I even bought aftermarket parts via Amazon at a real savings. I've replaced side mirrors, cracked tail lights. Without the Web I never would have tried it.
...there are plenty of web sites that will provide you with free appliance troubleshooting and repair information, and they will sell you the parts you need. There's no mystery involved in appliance repair.
I'll take it a step further and say it is our responsibility as senior engineers to involve interns on a simple thing like a teardown. Quite often I think interns are looked upon as cheap labor to do bill of material verifications or testing that a senior engineer might not have time for or the occasional design tolerance stack. But we should each make involving interns in teardowns something that we all encourage. As well as taking time to encourage giving them a little taste of everything that they can expect as they venture out into the profession of engineering. Internships are such a vital part of a young engineer's growth and education now. I hope we are all stepping up and making sure that it is not only an exercise in some of the more simplistic tasks that an engineer might incure early in his career but a chance for senior engineers to help give the next generation of engineers a little bit of an idea of what they can expect if the continue down the path of engineering as a career.
The service information is included because many times the service person is a contractor from some other service compay who is just called to do a warranty repair. They may have never seen this appliance before, and may not be at all familiar with it. As for the warrantys, mostly I have had things fail just after the warranty runs out. That takes a bit of design skill. But a refrigerator is not the latest audio device, and the older ones would last for 15 years as a minimum, and then the first item to wear out might be a drawer slide or a door hinge. Now the items to fail are the defrost timer that they get for $3 and sell for $55.
Greg, I agree. Appliances would make excellent tear-down engineering student examples. Good, robust design techniques combined with planned end-of-life component engineering. I can imagine an college engineering lab continuously running a washer or dryer for the students to predict when bearings or other components will wear out.
When choosing to become a DIY engineer and tear into an appliance, machine, or electric device one should always be careful to understand the warranty. Quite often opening and removing panels can void any warranty benefits that were available.
You're right about that, Tim. Many of those who send the Made by Monkeys stories to this blog include tales of going to the Internet when their product fails. Invariably, the problem they're encountering is described in spades by fellow consumers who have faced the same failures. Often -- but not often enough -- solutions are also discussed.
The internet has opened the world to the DIY repair engineer. If it breaks or gives a fault code on your appliance, there is a good chance that it has done the same for someone else. A quick internet search of the make, model, and problem usually yields enough information for educated troubleshooting to take place.
I have (had) appliances from all three companies, yet never found a guide taped to the inside. Monkeys can't even get that right.
I disagree about the absolute minimum fastener count. Several clothes washers and dryers could have used a few more to prevent their panels from rattling. When I have to wedge paper wads between panels to stop the rattle, the designers didn't use enough fasteners.
Then again, a machine that didn't vibrate so much wouldn't need so many fasteners.
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Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
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