System Reliability, Maintainability, and Availability

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System Reliability, Maintainability, and Availability

System Reliability, Maintainability, and Availability

Chapter   8 – Reliability,  Maintainability,    and Availability

by Michael  Pecht   (pages  303-326)

from  Handbook   of Systems  Engineering    and  Management,    edited  by Andrew   P. Sage  and

William  B. Rouse  (Wiley-Interscience,     1999).  See pages  37-38  for chapter   synopsis.

What should  be gained/rom    reading  this chapter?

(1) You should  be able  to define  reliability,   maintainability,     and availability,   and  identify  their  differences.

(2) You should  be able  to describe  some benefits  of reliability, maintainability,    and  availability.

(3) You should  be able  to describe  qualification    and  quality conformance,    and  identify  their  differences,

(4) You should  be able  to define  and  describe   the nature   of some basic  system  reliability   models.

(5) You should  have  the ability  to convey  a general   understanding of Failure   Modes  and  Effects  Analysis  (FlVIEA)

(6) You should  be able  to differentiate    between  readiness   and availability.




DIsciplinary   areas  yielding  means  of addressing:

  • system failure(s)
  • operational  readiness  and  success
  • maintenance  and  service  requirements
  • system effectiveness  evaluation   and  improvement

Key benefit  of integrating   reliability,   maintainability, and  availability   concepts  into the design  process  ,_

early determination  of feasibility  and risk

Sample Paper

1.0 Introduction

Engineering has often relied on a various concepts in the quest to design models or formulations, which make use of the available data to make decisions. Such decisions focus on system failures, ability of the organization to display readiness, to fulfil the requirements that the engineering discipline should undertake and to analyze the systems in order to archive much more efficiency and improvement in functions of these system. In most of the concepts that are applied, Engineering employs probabilistic models that forecast the needs, the conditions, the time frame and the other support factors that are needed by the system to complete its role. For example, a system needs to deliver output at a certain time failure to which the output may not be required as it will not timely. The need to make use of these concepts allows engineers to anticipate the ever-increasing needs to deliver fault free products at all times. This reason explains why Maintainability, Reliability, and Availability are essential to field of engineering.

2.0 Definition of Maintainability, Reliability, and Availability

The three main concepts that engineering adopts are

2.1 Maintainability– Just as the name implies, maintainability focuses on the ability of the systems to self-sustain or to self-restore with specific conditions and within a specific time frame (Stapelberg, 2009). It is a probabilistic aspect since systems often rely on  availability of individuals that possess skills to handle such problems, the design of the equipment being installed, ability of the system to be subjected through tests, and procedures to ascertain its functionality in all of its components and subcomponents, and the lastly the environment under which the system is performing.

2.2 Reliability – In engineering, reliability is defined as the probability that the systems will perform their intended roles to satisfy the end user through the output and the products that they will deliver under certain operating and environmental conditions. Reliability is often viewed as any other design parameter such as the capacity of the system or power rating. Reliability as a concept support the other two concepts since it is the underlying factor that establishes whether the output will be required or whether it will fit in with the existing conditions or to the end user requirements (Pyster et al 2012).

2.3 Availability – Availability is the ability of the system to perform or to be in operation satisfactorily at any time it is needed. The underlying conditions under availability are reliability and the maintainability. Availability, Reliability and maintainability go hand in hand since once the output or the product have been established, the surety that such products will still be in existence for a long time follows. Such a sustainability relies heavily on the availability of the product and the ability of the system to deliver the output (Sage & Rouse, 1999)

3.0 Differences between Maintainability, Reliability and Availability

            Although the differences between these three concepts seem minute just as Goble (2010) expresses, each of the concept relies on its own parameters, which are bound by time. A study of these concepts in a table might show that although there exists a connection, the probability between the three shows an existing different even in their result. In the table, increase in maintainability implies to a decrease in the time taken to carry out maintenance actions. The table also elaborates that even if the reliability is at a constant or even at a high value, this may not mean that availability will be high. This is because as repair increases, the availability tends to decrease. The table also shows that even if the system has a low reliability it could have a high level of availability should the repair in the said system be minimal.


Source; (Reliasoft Corporation 2003)

The existence of these differences arises from the parameters in each of these three concepts despite them being interlinked to appear as one. As Dhillon (2013) notes, the roles that each of these concepts play is different since each of the concepts has its parameters that guide it. Epstein & Weissman (2008) also adds that there are instances when end users prefer to have one or two factor in the short run, however in the long run, end users rely on the existence of these three concepts being used interchangeably.

4.0 Benefits of Maintainability, Reliability, and Availability

4.1 Reliability engineering

Reliability Engineering is the regulation that ensures a system will be reliable when a certain manner of operation is followed. The reliability theory forms the foundation of reliability engineering and is defined as the likelihood that a system will operate in an intended purpose within a specified time period under specified conditions. While reliability engineering is carried out throughout the system’s life cycle, its function is to come up with the system’s reliability requirements, establish an satisfactory reliability strategy, design a product or system that matches the reliability requirements, and perform proper analysis in monitoring the actual system reliability throughout its life.

4.1.1 Economic Benefits and Risks

Engineering-economic studies on costs and operational risks are first carried out. The alternative safety quality control costs and measures are then taken into consideration along with the risk reduction and quality enhancement prospects for each alternative, to identify optimal measures (Sage & Rouse 1999). At diverse tiers, such as subsystem, component and system, risk management study can support design, operation, scheduling, budgeting, feasibility studies and revenue allocation. Additionally, accurately integrated risk management studies can be modularized at any tier producing useful decision making information (Exponent 2015).

4.1.2 Operational reliability

Here, aspects that affect production operation are examined in order to assess break down risks or ultimately production stoppage. These aspects include equipment, adequacy of structures, performance, control systems, reliability, operation and maintenance procedures (Sage & Rouse 1999). This calls for proper detailed critical structural system analysis as well as process equipment.

4.1.3 Safety Hazards

            Personnel safety along with public safety aspects is carefully analyzed to categorize potentially vital health and safety risks. These hazards include release of hazardous chemical into the environment, toxicity hazards, fire as well as emergency response strategies.

4.1.4 Product Quality

Additionally, aspects that affect a product’s quality are analyzed to diminish the potential of producing a product batch outside specifications. These aspects could include quality assurance testing algorithms, statistical sampling, and process control ranges. In addition, work exclusions such as planning, work-done identification and scheduling. All these form the larger quality control algorithm (Sage & Rouse, 1999).

4.2 Maintainability engineering benefits

Maintainability analysis examines the system design for maintenance ease along with HFE – human factor engineering to evaluate maintainers impacts. The findings of these analyses play a vital role in the crafting of a maintenance strategy. This strategy may include discussions of tier repair and sparing, Fault detection and Isolation (FD/FI), as well as impacts on repair timelines.

Implementing maintainability principles reduces system associated risks by escalating operational availability while dropping lifecycle costs. The requirements for software maintainability also produces long term benefits that embrace decreased maintenance period, reduced wear and tear on project staff, as well as extensive useful assets in each application industry. For instance, its implementation in NASA results in extended practical off-the-ground as well as in-space assets (NASA).

4.3 Availability engineering benefits

A number of notable availability benefits include reducing unplanned downtime, reducing planned downtimes, and enhancing continuous health monitoring while maintaining industry standard compatibility (Stapelberg 2009). Additionally, availability engineering improves supportability through ingestion and link of different support and failure data to recognize data problems and fix them. It further reduces Mean Logic Delay Time by identifying and fixing significant support problems. Availability engineering monitors failure data through custom dashboards to constantly keep a finger on the system’s pulse and any data related problems affecting their readiness all the way through the system lifecycle (Anderson 2009).

5.0 System Qualification and Quality conformance in maintainability, reliability, and availability

System qualification refers to a system meeting predetermined and an outlined set of requirements. Qualification tests are carried out to demonstrate to the system acquirer that the outlined system requirements have been attained. System qualification often covers system requirements in the SSSs – system/subsystem specification, along with the associated interface requirements specification – IRSs (Pecht 1995). On the other hand Quality conformance refers to a product/system’s ability to attain its design specifications. These design specifications represent the customer needs.  In reliability and maintainability, engineers carry out an analysis of verification tests, availability assessments, design approach, and maintenance optimization in order to verify conformance to the outlined requirements. In addition, system conformance to precise reliability and maintainability (R&M) requirements is verified through proper demonstration and tests. In availability engineering, quality conformance is measured against its availability requirements and potential challenges.

6.0 Nature of the basic models

6.1 Reliability

6.1.1 Design processes

The nature of reliability requires an individual to follow a specific process and principles in order to factor all those concerns that may be raised by the system users. As Broy, Grünbauer & Hoare (2007) notes, an individual has to begin by

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