Failure Resistant System Design
The Abacus Failure Resistant System Design (FRSD) approach finds the mean time to failure of a system based on knowledge of the mean time to failure of its components. The performance, reliability, and safety of future hardware, software, and communication systems/networks can be improved through failure resistant design. Rather than waiting until the testing phase or attempting to fix or replace failed components in operational systems, maintenance and redundancy costs can be saved by analyzing the system during the design phase and planning for failure ahead of time. This approach becomes even more important in systems where failure could result in human injury or death such as, for example, on the U.S. Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. FRSD contains design rules and guidelines that take advantage of innovative analysis methods and tools.
The Abacus technical approach consists of first constructing a network that represents and models the components and subsystems in a target system and then analyzing the structure in terms of its "mean time to failure" (MTTF). The MTTF analysis will identify the critical components and provide insight into considerations of redundancy. To determine the reliability of a total system in terms of its MTTF, every system component is assigned its own probability of failure curve based on testing, available historical data, manufacturer's specifications, etc. Each curve describes the probability that the corresponding system component will fail at varying times in the future. The objective, then, is to find the probability of failure for an entire system given the individual failure curves for each of its components or subsystems.
In order to find the probability of failure for an entire system, the individual failure component curves must be combined and reduced to a single curve. This can be accomplished by using Signal Flow Graph Theory: a standard theory that can generate a mathematical equation called a "system transfer function" by combining series and parallel arcs to collapse a systems network model. The final equation tells us exactly how to combine the individual curves and produce a single probability of failure graph for the entire network. Then, Sensitivity Analysis locates the most critical parts of the system and, through comparison of failure curves, identifies those components that, if replaced or made redundant, would have the greatest impact on improving overall performance, reliability, and safety.
User interaction sequence for the FRSD demonstration
FRSD User Interaction
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