Improving The Reliability of Electrical/Electronics Equipment
Previously in my series on Reliability, I have explained the consequences of unreliability which at worst its death, frustration of users and loss of the equipment. Also I explained on how unreliability can tarnish the reputation of producers and make them loose value in the market, hence diminishing their essence of venturing which is actually to make profit.
In this episode, I will explain the various ways in which reliability can be improved and sight examples with real life scenarios of top technology firms in the world.
There are various ways of increasing the reliability of an equipment which would be explained below. Prior to this episode, I have defined Reliability as the tendency of an item or equipment to perform its required function under stated condition and giving range of time which is its life span.
RedundancyRedundancy is the provision of more than one path/means for a system to occur. This is like having more than one circuit from a source to load, instead of having one wire to from the negative to the source and positive to the source, you make it two wires running from negative of the source to the load and also two wires running from positive to load. So if any wire stop conduction, the other can still conduct, thus completing the circuit.
Improved Redundancy can be likened to parallel connection as seen in the image below
Lets assume one resistor gets bad in the circuit, there is still a path for current flow. This means the reliability is relatively high
But assuming these two resistors were connected to each other in series as in the image below and one among them got cut internally(open circuit), the entire circuit will fail, this means the reliability is low.
image credit: @ikchris
Redundancy is also employed in power systems, example in the connection of transformers in parallel such that power is uninterrupted when one transformer fails. Finally on this redundancy, we can say that the higher the redundancy provided for an equipment, the less its likelihood to fail
Worst Case Designworst case design analyze the worst thing that can happens to a system or item and figure out a way to prevent the system or item from the failure that would be caused by that(the worst). Decades ago in mobile phone technology, users have to try as much as possible to avoid mobile phones failing into water, but in the now technology, some smart phones can even video record inside swimming pools. maybe in the future a worst case design using "failure caused by fire" would be used for worst case circuit analysis which would be also designed. This means some smart phones can stay in fire for some minutes without the effect(failure) caused by the fire. Using power system as example, the maximum or critical load possible is analyzed, and transformers capable of efficiently handling the load is implemented
Design SimplificationIn this, during the design stage, the circuit of the item is made as simple as possible. Instead of using many active components, we can implement it into an integrated circuit. The more the number of components in an equipment the more the likelihood of failure which is unfavorable to the system. Design simplification is the reason integrated circuits and even transistors were invented. The less the number of components, the easier it is to troubleshoot in case failure arises. So design simplification also improves maintainability which is also a factor that increases reliability. I would discuss on maintainability on another article.
Improve The Software ReliabilitySoftware failure can cause the failure of a whole system. An error in coding or unprofessional coding can cause the failure of a whole system. In some systems, the software controls the operation of hardware, this is evident in computers which relies on installed OS to operate. Imagine when this OS crashes, the user would be definitely frustrated from the failure of the OS.
Other ways of improving the reliability of a system includes over stress analysis, degradation analysis, over stress analysis and transient among others.