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Reliability Engineering


Equipment reliability is defined as the ability of a component or system to perform its intended function, under a given set of conditions, for a specified period of time. A reliability analysis will predict the probability of failure or the frequency of failure. Reliability often defines the maintainability of a system, and plays a large part in the cost-effectiveness of the system. Due to the large ranges of uncertainty involved in reliability analysis, (especially when multiple components, each with their own reliability, make up a single system) quantitative methods for reliability prediction and measurement are often avoided.

Reliability engineering uses many techniques such as hazard analysis, failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), stress, fatigue, corrosion, and wear analyses, etc.

FMEA is of particular interest. It consists of identifying, for each component, the individual failure modes and the resulting effects on the overall system. The analysis provides early identification of critical subsystem or system failure modes. This allows their elimination or minimization during the development effort.

The more complex a system, the more elaborate the approach for reliability analysis of the system must be. The approach may (or may not) consider the following: failure analyses, requirement specifications, mechanical design, manufacturing methods, adequate testing, proper maintenance of the system, careful transport and storage, correct usage practice of the mechanism, etc. Since mathematical and statistical approaches are often avoided for reliability analyses of complex systems, it is only through engineering experience, skills, and knowledge, that an effective reliability analysis could be conducted.

A reliability program plan is used to define the reliability goals and to set up a program to achieve these goals. The plan enables the detailed identification of program goals and to specify the required tasks, as well as budgets, schedules, manpower requirements, etc. It is normally approved by management and becomes a guiding document throughout all stages of the program.

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