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FUNDAMENTAL ASPECTS Reliability may be

defined as quality over the long run. Quality is the condition of the product
during manufacturing or immediately afterward, whereas reliability is the ability
of a product to perform its intended function over a period of time. A product that
"works" for a long period of time is a reliable one. Because all units of a given
product will fail at different times, reliability is the probability that the
product will function as intended for a prescribed life and under certain
environmental conditions. The above definition includes four factors associated
with reliability: (1) numerical value, (2) intended function, (3) life, and
(4)environmental conditions. The numerical value is the probability that the
product will not fail during a particular time. Thus, a value of 0. 95 represents
the probability that 95 of 100 products will continue to function after a specified
time and 5 of the products will be expected to fail before the prescribed period of
time. The second factor relates to the intended function of the product.
Products are designed for specified applications and they are expected to perform
those applications. For example, a hydraulic jack is expected to lift a certain
design load; it is not expected to lift a load that exceeds the design
specification. The third factor in the reliability definition is the intended
life of the product; that is, how long the product is expected to last. Product
life may be specified as a function of usage, time, or both. The last factor in
the definition is concerned with environmental conditions. A product that is
designed to function in a specified ambient condition can not be expected to
function in adverse conditions. Environmental conditions may also include storage
and handling. SY STEM RELIABILITY The more complex the product the greater
the probability of failure. The way component parts are arranged affect the
reliability of the finished product. For components which are arranged in a series
the final reliability is the product of the respective reliability factors. Thus
the reliability of an assembly of three components in series which have
reliabilities of . 90, . 85 and . 96 will have a reliability of . 73. It can be
seen that as components are added to the series, the system reliability decreases.
In a series circuit, the failure of any component causes the failure of the entire
system. This is not the case for components arranged in parallel. Parallel circuits
continue to function as long as other parallel components are functioning. The
formula for the reliability of a parallel circuit is: R(S) = 1 - (1 - R(1))(1 -
R(2)) Therefore, two components having a reliability of . 75 and . 85 will have a
reliability of . 96 when assembled in parallel. It becomes evident that the most
important aspect of reliability is design. Products should be as simple as
possible. The greater the number of components the greater the chance of failure.
Another way of achieving reliability is to have a backup or redundant
component. When the primary component fails, another component is activated. This
concept is illustrated by the parallel arrangement of components. It is frequently
cheaper to have inexpensive redundant components to achieve a particular
reliability than to have a single expensive component. Reliability can also be
achieved by overdesign. The use of large factors of safety can increase the
reliability of a product. For example, a 1-inch rope may be substituted for a 1/2-
inch rope even though the 1/2-inch rope would have been sufficient. When the
failure of a product can lead to a fatality or substantial financial loss, a fail-
safe type of device should be used. Thus, disabling extremity injuries from power-
press operations are minimized by the use of a clutch. The clutch must be engaged
for the ram and die to descend. If there is a malfunction of the clutch-activation
system, the press will fail to operate. The maintenamce of the system is an
important factor in reliability. Products that are easy to maintain will likely
receive better maintenance. In some situations it may be more practical to
eliminate the need for maintenance. For example, oil-impregnated bearings do not
need lubrication for the life of the product. Environmental conditions such as
dust, temperature, moisture, and vibration can be the cause of failure. The
designer must protect the product from these conditions. Heat shields, rubber
vibration mounts, and filters are used to increase the reliability under adverse
environmental conditions. There is a definite relationship between investment
in reliability (cost) and reliability. After a certain point, there is only a
slight improvement in reliability for the increase in product cost. For example,
assume that a $5 0 component has a reliability of 0. 75 . If the cost is increased to
$100, the reliability becomes 0. 90; if the cost is increased to $15 0, the
reliability becomes 0. 94; and if the cost is increased to $200, the reliability
becomes 0. 96. As can be seen by this hypothetical example, there is a diminishing
reliability return for the investment dollar. The manufacturing process is the
second most important aspect of reliability. Basic quality control techniques that
have been described earlier will minimize the risk of product failure. Emphasis
should be placed on those components which are least reliable. Manufacturing
personnel can take action to insure that the equipment used is right for the job
and investigate new equipment as it becomes available. In addition, they can
experiment with process conditions to determine which conditions produce the most
reliable product. Another aspect of reliability is the transportation of
product to the customer. No matter how well conceived the design or how carefully
manufactured, the actual performance of the product by the customer is the final
evaluation. The reliability of the product at the point of use can be greatly
affected by the type of handling the product receives in transit. Good packaging
techniques and shipment evaluation are essential. While designers try to
eliminate the need for customer maintainance, there are many situations where it
is not practical or possible. In such cases, the customer should be given ample
warning. For example, a warning light or buzzer when a component needs lubricant.
Maintenance should be simple and easy to perform. THE LIFE-HISTORY CURVE
The following figure shows a typical life-history curve of a complexed product for
an indefinite number of items. The curve, sometimes referred to as the "bathtub"
curve, is a comparison of the failure rate with time. It has three distinct phases:
debugging phase, chance failure phase, and the wear-out phase. (INSERT BATH TUB
CURVE) The debugging phase, which is also called the burn-in or infant-
mortality phase, is characterizes by marginal and short-life parts that cause a
rapid decrease in the failure rate. Since the debugging phase is not necessarily an
operational phase, it is rarely studied. The chance failure phase is shown in
the "bathtub" as a horizontal straight line, thereby showing the failure rate as
constant. Failure occurs in a random manner due to the constant failure rate. The
assumption of a constant failure rate is valid for most products; however, some
products may have a failure rate that decreases or increases with time. The
third phase is the wear-out phase, which is depicted by a sharp rise in the failure
rate. Again, the "bathtub" depicts the type of failure pattern exhibited by most
products; however, there will be some products that deviate from this curve. It is
important to know the type of failure pattern so that known probability
distributions can be used for analysis and prediction of product reliability.