Reliability growth refers to the improvement in the reliability of a product or service over a period of time due to changes in the product design or the manufacturing process.
Reliability growth information generated and recorded over time can be used to observe trends in the reliability of the product. The term “growth” is always used since you assume that the reliability of the product will increase over time as design changes and fixes are implemented.
In other words, reliability growth is a projection of the reliability of a system, component, unit (or service) to some future development time. This projection is based upon information currently available from predictions or prior experience on identical or similar systems.
Monitoring the reliability, the mean time between failures (MTBF) and the failure rate of the system, equipment or product also establishes a trend in the increase in the reliability, the increase in the MTBF or the decrease in the failure rate.
This is achieved with engineering, research, development, test-analyze-and-fix (TAAF) and/or test-analyze-and-redesign (TAAR) procedures until it passes its acceptance tests and/or is delivered to the end-user.
The use of reliability is especially important to the Department of Defense because a high percentage of defense systems fail to meet their reliability requirements. This is a serious problem for the DOD, as well as the nation.
Reliability growth models for defense purposes, for example, are used to estimate or predict the improvement of system reliability as a function of the amount of system testing that is carried out. Such models are used in three ways:
- To help construct test plans for defense systems early in development
- To assess the currently achieved system reliability
- To assess whether a defense system in development is on track to meeting its reliability requirements before deployment
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