The Reliability Design Process

The Reliability Design Process


While manufacturers regularly tout the reliability of their designs, too often one will find that the same organizations do not perform the necessary activities to ensure the longevity of their products. A similar problem is also found in much of the literature on engineering design, in which the importance of durability and reliability is emphasized, yet the actual techniques used to design reliability into the system are not discussed in detail. As a result, engineers are often unsure of which activities to perform, or do not know how to utilize the results of a specific analysis or test.

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Product Description

The series name has a double meaning:
(1) the spelling of the name r-e-l-e-a-s-e indicates that the series is intended to “release“ the non-expert down the path to reliable products and
(2) the complementary terms “REL” with “ease”, implying the series goal of “reliability made easy.”

Of course, reliability success is seldom easy, requiring expertise and tailoring with tradeoffs addressing life-cycle costs and other issues, but we hope that the series will help those not familiar with reliability practices understand the basics.

While it is unlikely that the reader will become an instant expert in reliability by reading the RELease guides, it is likely that he/she will gain a better appreciation of the basic tools that lead to designing and building reliability into products and systems. The number of pages in each guide is intentionally limited to address only the basics, with comprehensive authoritative references listed for those wanting to know more. The initial set of guides will be continuously expanded in the future. Please let us know how the series can be improved to meet your needs in introducing reliability to the non-expert, or suggest other topics you would like to see developed.

Additional information


Alex MacDiarmid





Publication Date:

July 2013

Table of Contents

1. Why is Reliability Important?       2
2. Reliability Terminology       3
3. The Reliability Design Process       6
  3.1. Process Flow     6
  3.2. Required Inputs     8
    3.2.1. Inputs for Requirements   8
    3.2.2. Analysis/Testing Inputs   9
4. The Process for Developing Reliable Systems       10
  4.1. Reliability Requirements and Design     10
  4.2. System/Subsystem Analysis     11
    4.2.1. FMEA/FMECA   11
    4.2.2. FTA   12
    4.2.3. Analysis of Results   13
  4.3. Part-Level Reliability Predictions     14
    4.3.1. Statistical Analysis of Part-Specific Failure Data   14
    4.3.2. Physics-of-Failure (PoF) Modeling   15
    4.3.3. Empirical Modeling & Surrogate Data   16
    4.3.4. Alternative Prediction Methods   18
  4.4. System-Level Prediction Methods     19
  4.5. Evaluating, Tracking, Fielding and Improving Reliability     22
    4.5.1. Reliability Testing   22
    4.5.2. Production and Field Reliability   24
    4.5.3. Reliability Growth   28
5. For More Information       29