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• Reliability is a measure of the quality of the

product over the long run.
RELIABILITY • In here the concept of reliability is an
extended time period over which the
expected operation of the product is
considered; that is, we expect the product will
function according to certain expectations
over a stipulated period of time.

• Reliability is the probability of a product • Four aspects of reliability are apparent from this
performing its intended function for a stated definition.
period of time under certain specified • First, reliability is a probability-related concept;
the numerical value of this probability is between
conditions. 0 and 1.
• Second, the functional performance of the
product has to meet certain stipulations.
• Product design will usually ensure development
of a product that meets or exceeds the stipulated


• For example, if the breaking strength of a • Third, reliability implies successful operation
nylon cord is expected to be 1000 kg, then in over a certain period of time.
its operational phase/the cord must be able to • Although no product is expected to last
bear weights of 1000 kg or more forever, the time requirement ensures
satisfactory performance over at least a
minimal stated period (say, two years).
• Fourth, operating or environmental conditions
under which product use takes place are


• In the context of these four aspects, the • Most products go through three distinct
reliability of the nylon cord might be described phases from product inception to wear-out.
as having a probability of successful • Figure 11-1 shows a typical life-cycle curve for
performance of 0.92 in bearing loads of 1000 which the failure rate ë is plotted as a
kg for two years under dry conditions function of time.
• This curve is often referred to as the bathtub
curve; it consists of the debugging phase, the
chance-failure phase, and the wear-out phase
(Besterfield, 2003).


• The debugging phase, also known as the

infant-mortality phase, exhibits a drop in the
failure rate as initial problems identified
during prototype testing are ironed out.

• The chance failure phase, between times t1

and t2, is then encountered; failures occur • Following this is the wear-out phase, in which
randomly and independently. This phase, in an increase in the failure rate is observed.
which the failure rate is constant, typically Here, at the end of their useful life, parts age
represents the useful life of the product. and wear out.


Probability Distributions to Model

Failure Rate
• Exponential Distribution The life-cycle curve of • In Chapter 4 the exponential distribution was
Figure 11-1 shows the variation of the failure shown to have a probability density function
rate as a function of time. given by
• For the chance-failure phase, which
represents the useful life of the product, the
failure rate is constant.
• As a result, the exponential distribution can be
used to describe the time to failure of the
product for this phase.

• Thus, if the failure rate is constant, the mean

time to failure is the reciprocal of the failure
• For repairable equipment, this is also equal to
the mean time between failures (MTBF).
• There will be a difference between MTBF and
MTTF only if there is a significant repair or
replacement time upon failure of the product.


• The availability of a system at time t is the
probability that the system will be up and
running at time t.
• To improve availability, maintenance
procedures are incorporated, which may
include periodic or preventive maintenance or
condition-based maintenance.
• An availability index is defined as


• Downtime may consist of active repair time, • For a steady-state system, denoting the mean
administrative time (processing of necessary
paperwork), and logistic time (waiting time due time to repair (MTTR) to include all the
to lack of parts). various components of downtime, we have
• It is observed that maintainability is an important (Blischke and Murthy 2000)
factor in influencing availability.
• Through design it is possible to increase the
reliability and hence operational probability of a
• Further, downtime can be reduced through
adequate maintenance plans.

• Most products are made up of a number of • One common approach for increasing the
components. reliability of the system is through redundance
• The reliability of each component and the in design, which is usually achieved by placing
configuration of the system consisting of these components in parallel: As long as one
components determines the system reliability component operates, the system operates.
(i.e., the reliability of the product).
• Although product design, manufacture, and
maintenance influence reliability, improving
reliability is largely the domain of design.


Systems with Components in Series

• Figure 11 -4 shows a system with three • In general, if there are n components in series,
components (A, B, and C) in series. where the reliability of the ith component is
• For the system to operate, each component denoted by Ri,, the system reliability is
must operate.
• It is assumed that the components operate
independent of each other (i.e., the failure of
one component has no influence on the
failure of any other component).

• The system reliability decreases as the number of

components in series increases.
• Although overdesign in each component
improves reliability, its impact would be offset by
the number of components in series.
• Moreover, manufacturing capabilities and
resource limitations restrict the maximum
reliability of any given component.
• Product redesign that reduces the number of
components in series is a viable alternative.


Systems with Components in Parallel

• System reliability can be improved by placing
components in parallel.
• The components are redundant; the system
operates as long as at least one of the
components operates.
• The only time the system fails is when all the
parallel components fail.

• Figure 11-5 demonstrates an example of a system

with three components (A, B, and C) in parallel.
• All components are assumed to operate
• Examples of redundant components placed in
parallel to improve the reliability of the system
• For instance, the braking mechanism is a critical
system in the automobile.
• Dual subsystems thus exist so that if one fails, the
brakes still work.


• Note that the system reliability is much higher

than that of the individual components.
• Designers can increase system reliability by
placing more components in parallel, but the
cost of the additional components
necessitates a trade-off between the two

Systems with Components in Series

and in Parallel
• Complex systems often consist of components
that are both in series and in parallel.
• Reliability calculations are based on the
concepts discussed previously, assuming that
the components operate independently.


Systems with Standby Components

• In a standby configuration, one or more parallel
components wait to take over operation upon
• failure of the currently operating component.
• Here, it is assumed that only one component in
the parallel configuration is operating at any
given time.
• Because of this, the system reliability is higher
than for comparable systems with components in



• A common life testing plan involves choosing a
sample of items from the batch and observing
their operation for a certain predetermined
• If the number of failures exceeds a stipulated
acceptance number, the lot is rejected; if the
number of failures is less than or equal to the
acceptance number, the lot is accepted.


• Two options are possible. • Plans for reliability and life testing are usually
• In the first option, an item that fails is destructive in nature.
replaced immediately by an identical item. • They involve observing a sample of items until
• In the second, failed items are not replaced. a certain number of failures occur, observing
over a certain period of time to record the
number of failures, or a combination of both.


Types of Tests
• Such testing is usually done at the prototype • Failure-Terminated Test
stage, which can be expensive depending on • Time-Terminated Test
the unit cost of the item. • Sequential Reliability Test
• Although a longer accumulated test time is
desirable for a precise estimation of product
reliability or mean life, the cost associated
with the testing plan is an important factor in
its choice.

Standard Life Testing Plans Using

Handbook H-108
• The Quality Control and Reliability Handbook H-
108 (U.S. Department of Defense, 1960) was
developed by the Bureau of Naval Weapons, U.S.
Department of the Navy.
• Life testing plans in the handbook are based on a
time-to-failure distribution that is exponential,
and all three types of plans (failure-terminated,
time-terminated, and sequential life testing) are
• For each plan, provision is made for situations
with and without replacement of failed units.