Reliability Engineering

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Reliability Engineering - short version

Reliability Engineering is a engineering function dealing with the principles and practices related to the design, specification, assessment, and achievement of product or system reliability requirements and involving aspects of prediction, evaluation, production, and demonstration

Reliability Engineering - long version

Reliability engineering is an engineering field, that deals with the study, evaluation, and life-cycle management of reliability: the ability of a system or component to perform its required functions under stated conditions for a specified period of time. It is often measured as a probability of failure or a measure of availability. However, maintainability is also an important part of reliability engineering.

Reliability engineering for complex systems requires a different, more elaborated systems approach than reliability for non-complex systems / items. Reliability engineering is closely related to system safety engineering in the sense that they both use common sorts of methods for their analysis and might require input from each other. Reliability analysis have important links with function analysis, requirements specification, systems design, hardware design, software design, manufacturing, testing, maintenance, transport, storage, spare parts, operations research, human factors, technical documentation, training and more.

Reliability engineering is special discipline within Systems engineering. Reliability engineers rely heavily on statistics, probability theory, and reliability theory to set requirements, measure or predict reliability and advice on improvements for reliability performance. Many engineering techniques are used in reliability engineering, such as Reliability Hazard analysis, Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), Fault tree analysis, Reliability Prediction, Weibull analysis, thermal management, reliability testing and accelerated life testing. Because of the large number of reliability techniques, their expense, and the varying degrees of reliability required for different situations, most projects develop a reliability program plan to specify the reliability tasks that will be performed for that specific system.

The function of reliability engineering is to develop the reliability requirements for the product, establish an adequate life-cycle reliability program, show that corrective measures (risk mitigations) produce reliability improvements, and perform appropriate analyses and tasks to ensure the product will meet its requirements and the unreliability risk is controlled to an acceptable level. It needs to provide a robust set of (statistical) evidence and justification material to verify if the requirements have been met and to check preliminary reliability risk assessments. The goal is to first identify the reliability hazards, assess the risk associated with them and to control the risk to an acceptable level. What is acceptable is determined by the managing authority / customers. These tasks are normally managed by a reliability engineer or manager, who may hold an accredited engineering degree and has additional reliability-specific education and training.

Reliability engineering is closely associated with maintainability engineering and logistics engineering, e.g. Integrated Logistics Support (ILS). Many problems from other fields, such as security engineering and safety engineering can also be approached using common reliability engineering techniques. This article provides an overview of some of the most common reliability engineering tasks. Please see the references for a more comprehensive treatment.


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