professional ethics in engineering

Rachel works as a Quality Assurance Engineer at a large electronics company. She is responsible for the final testing of her company’s servers and is part of a team which decides when new products will be shipped to distributors for sale.
Rachel’s company has a contract with another company which makes the chips which are incorporated into the servers Rachel’s company makes. The business model for this product is to release a new generation server approximately every six months, meaning Rachel has a limited timeframe to conduct her Quality Control tests.
Because there is such a short amount of time between the release of each next new product, the Quality and Assurance department cannot perform every possible test on the servers to ensure they are defect free. Rachel will not ship a product if there is any possibility that the server could malfunction and cause physical harm to the customer. However, she will ship a product that has a higher likelihood of failure resulting in data loss for the customer, because she knows that if she doesn't, her company's competitor will.
Is this an ethical way to conduct business? How should she determine when to ship a product with known defects?

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  1. Ethics or no ethics, if you send something that does not work:
    1. The customer is unhappy.
    2. It will cost both the customer and your company to spend time and money fixing the problem.
    3. The customer will probably trade with another source, that very competitor, the next time.
    In other words it is not smart.

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  2. I agree with Damon. But the question is what is the approved testing plan for this product. It is her responsibility to test in accordance with that plan, if it is every unit, all tests, she has no right to do that clear the items skipping the tests. If the approve plan was sampling. I wonder what the company has for a QA systems testing program, and in fact, what this plane was. No company can operate without an approved (by management) plan, that is a lot of legal exposure to let engineers decide case by case. In any case, this is not the actions for a growing company, and in fact, it opens up the company to a lot of lawsuits.

    Sytems management can make or break a company. It is not a trivial position.

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    bobpursley

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