Reliability testing is the cornerstone of a reliability engineering program. It provides the most detailed form of reliability data because the conditions under which the data are collected can be carefully controlled and monitored. Furthermore, reliability tests can be designed to uncover particular suspected failure modes and other problems. The type of reliability testing a product undergoes will change along different points of its life cycle, but the overriding goal is to insure that data from all or most of the tests were generated under similar enough conditions so that an "apples to apples" comparison can be made of the product's reliability characteristics at different points in the product's life. It is for this reason that consistent and thorough reliability specifications and a standard definition of failure are up-front requirements to implementing reliability testing.
A properly designed series of tests, particularly during the product's earlier design stages, can generate data that would be useful in the implementation of a reliability growth tracking program. This will provide information that will be helpful in making management decisions regarding scheduling, development cost projections and so forth. This information will also be useful in planning the development cycle of future products.
There are several different kinds of tests, including: Customer Usage Profiling
, Development Testing
and Manufacturing Testing
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