Is There a Short Reliability Design Problem?
Kirk and Fred discussing the issue of long term reliability, intrinsic wear-out, and the rapid improvement of new features and benefits that motivate retirement of older devices such as in smartphones.
Join Kirk and Fred as they discuss designed life and the rapid technological obsolescence of many electronics products.
- The early days of smartphones had replaceable batteries, the part most likely to wear out in 2-3 years, but not anymore.
- Mechanical components such as connectors do wear, and eventually may cause failure.
- Long-term reliability is needed in energy generation systems for ROI, and prognostics and health management are useful for reliability monitoring and maintenance.
Enjoy an episode of Speaking of Reliability. Where you can join friends as they discuss reliability topics. Join us as we discuss topics ranging from design for reliability techniques, to field data analysis approaches.
Here is a link Kirk’s article “Why the Drain in the Bathtub Curve Matters” .
To find out more about Kirk’s consulting services please see his website Accelerated Reliability Solutions, LLC
Daniela Forero says
I do have a question, the discussion is about devices (system level) life for consumer electronics like ~2 to 4 years, so the reliability doesnt really focus on the long term, do you think that component manufacturers are also changing the reliability because fo the short life of the system level?
Fred Schenkelberg says
Yes, I do and have seen it happen. As mobile phone and consumer electronics took over the market, longer term components or industrial or military grade components have become more difficult to source. The basic technology hasn’t changed for many components and many can and may last many years, the focus for component verification, design focus, etc, is certainly not on the long term, in some cases.
If you need more than 10 years of useful operation for your product, you may need to do a bit more homework with your vendors to get components suitable or at least verified to last that long.
Kirk Gray says
Thanks for listening and your question.
I respectfully have a different observation than Fred. I do not believe most consumer electronics companies know what the intrinsic life of their systems actually is, and the theoretical models for the many components many not be valid for todays devices. Component manufacturers may be using models of known physical intrinsic wear-out mechanisms from the past, but the dynamic changes in semiconductor materials, dimensions, and manufacturing make validation of changes to models very challenging. Changes to models must empirically validated through experimental or actual life cycle testing, which could take many years to verify the latest theoretical models. I doubt that many component suppliers can afford to do that and it most likely the results would be considered irrelevant as the materials or component design and manufacturing process changes that occur during that time.
I have not seen evidence that the manufacturers of passive components, PWBs, solder, or other of the many other materials know what the intrinsic life of components are considering they would have to know the stresses from wide variety of systems and environments the components are in, and the overall circuit design and mechanical assembly.
Some systems, such as solar panels and energy systems need long life, but I don’t believe most consumer electronics will be used more that 10 years. The intrinsic life for most consumer is probably well beyond 10 years, but we and the industry will not ever really find out.
An example is My brother still uses a flip phone well over 10 years old.