You are on page 1of 19

Reliability Block Diagram Modeling

A Comparison of Three Software Packages

Aron Brall, SRS Technologies, Mission Support Division


William Hagen, Ford Motor Company, Powertrain Manufacturing Engineering
Hung Tran, SRS Technologies, Mission Support Division

THE SOFTWARE PACKAGES - 1

ARINC RAPTOR 7.0.07


From RAPTOR web site:
Raptor is a software tool that simulates the operations
of any system.
Sophisticated Monte Carlo simulation algorithms are
used to achieve these results.
Our Take:
Pure Monte Carlo simulation tool to solve reliability
block diagrams.

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

THE SOFTWARE PACKAGES - 2

Reliasoft BlockSim 6.5.2


From BlockSim web site:
Flexible Reliability Block Diagram (RBD) creation.
Exact reliability results/plots and optimum reliability
allocation.
Repairable system analysis via simulation (reliability,
maintainability, availability) plus throughput, life cycle
cost and related analyses.
Our Take:
Monte Carlo simulation with algorithms used to speed
the processing time.
Also provides analytical calculation of reliability.

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

THE SOFTWARE PACKAGES - 3

Relex Reliability Block Diagram


From Relex web site:
At the core of Relex RBD is a highly intelligent
computational engine.
First, each diagram is analyzed to determine the best
approach for problem solving using pure analytical solutions,
simulation, or a combination of both.
Once a methodology is determined, the powerful Relex RBD
calculations are engaged to produce fast, accurate results.
Our Take:
Relex RBD appears to be a hybrid tool that uses algorithms
and simulation in varying combinations to solve reliability
block diagrams.
2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

Why Compare Reliability Software


Analysts (especially new analysts) tend to report reliability
software results as exact values
Engineering judgment, caution and experience are being
supplanted by software analysis
Error checking is often absent
Number of runs; confidence limits; garbage in, garbage out all
impact value of software analysis

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

One Block Model

Block
Block
Parameter
Failure
a
Distribution
Repair
a
Distribution

Probability
Distribution
Weibull
Lognormal

Parameter 1 Parameter 2
Shape 1.5

Scale 1000

Mu 5

Sigma 0.5

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

Simple Model

Block
Name

S tart

E nd
1::1

m
Failur e: W eibull
Char . Lif e: 1000
Shape Fact . : 2
t 0: 0
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 99005

b
Failur e: Nor m al
M ean: 250
St dDev: 50
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 99865

e
Failur e: W eibull
Char . Lif e: 2300
Shape Fact . : 1. 5
t 0: 0
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 990975

d
Failur e: Log Nor m al
M u: 6
Sigm a: 2
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 757228

c
M TBF: 10000
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 99005

1::1

g
M TBF: 10000
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 99005

1::1

h
Failur e: Log Nor m al
M u: 8
Sigm a: 1
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 999657

1::2
n
Failur e: W eibull
Char . Lif e: 1000
Shape Fact . : 3
t 0: 0
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 999

1::1

Parameter
1

Parameter
2

Weibull

Shape 1.5

Scale 1000

Normal

Mean 250

Std Dev 50

Exponential

10000

Lognormal

Mu 6

Sigma 2

Weibull

Shape 1.5

Scale 2300

Normal

Mean 250

Std Dev 50

Exponential

10000

Lognormal

Mu 8

Sigma 1

Weibull

Shape 1.5

Scale 1000

Normal

Mean 250

Std Dev 50

Exponential

10000

Lognormal

Mu 8

Sigma 3

Weibull

Shape 2.0

Scale 1000

Weibull

Shape 3.0

Scale 1000

Weibull

Shape 4.0

Scale 1000

Weibull

Shape 0.5

Scale 1000

Weibull

Shape 0.4

Scale 1000

3::6

f
Failur e: Nor m al
M ean: 250
St dDev: 50
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 99865

l
Failur e: Log Nor m al
M u: 8
Sigm a: 3
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 871101

i
Failur e: W eibull
Char . Lif e: 1000
Shape Fact . : 1. 5
t 0: 0
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 968872

Failure
Distribution

o
Failur e: W eibull
Char . Lif e: 1000
Shape Fact . : 4
t 0: 0
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 9999

1::2

Failur e: Nor m al
M ean: 250
St dDev: 50
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 99865

1::1

a
Failur e: W eibull
Char . Lif e: 1000
Shape Fact . : 1. 5
t 0: 0
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 968872

q
Failur e: W eibull
Char . Lif e: 1000
Shape Fact . : 0. 4
t 0: 0
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 67159
p
Failur e: W eibull
Char . Lif e: 1000
Shape Fact . : 0. 5
t 0: 0
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 728893

k
M TBF: 10000
Q t y: 1
R: 0. 99005

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

Large Model

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

Complex Model

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

Results of Simulations
Model
One Block
One Block
Simple
Simple
Simple
Large
Large
Large
Large
Large
Complex
Complex
Complex
Complex

Model Data
Parameter
Reliability
Availability
Reliability
Availability
System Failures
Reliability
Reliability
Availability
Availability
MTTFF: (Hours)
Reliability
Availability
MTBF (MTBDE)(Hrs)
MTTR (MDT)(Hrs.)

Trials or
Runs
1,000
1,000
1,000
1,000
1,000
10,000
1,000
1,000
10,000
10,000
10,000
10,000
10,000
10,000

Time
(hours)
1,000
1,000
100
100
100
61,362
61,362
61,362
61,362
61,362
100
100
100
100

Software Package
Raptor BlockSim
Relex
0.3797
0.8927
0.983
0.9955
0.017
0.7024
0.718
0.858
0.847

0.3663
0.8894
0.977
0.9892
0.023
0.737
0.729
0.861
0.865

0.365
0.843
0.978
0.978
Not Reported
0.6914
0.707
0.691
0.6866

144,775.99 201,679.13
146,321.53
0.1313
0.1315
0.0988
0.3877
0.3741
0.3333

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

36.2732
68.3853

39.3565
62.7677

33.92
74.51
10

What Do the Results Tell Us

If precision is required, it isnt there


One to two significant figure agreement at best between packages
Confidence limits are necessary for data

Some parameters are either defined differently, or


calculated using such diverse algorithms or methodologies
that they arent comparable
Errors in modeling or application of the software can go
undiscovered when only one software package and one
analyst are used

The complexity of large models and different issues with each


software interface opens up many opportunities for human failure
Checking a model for errors can be more time intensive than
creating the original model

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

11

Cautions - 1

Use of a single model, especially a highly complex model, to


demonstrate compliance with a requirement is error prone and risky
Many times the results of these simulations are used to demonstrate
compliance with a specified reliability or availability requirement.
A result that would show a Reliability of 0.85 when the
requirement was 0.90 might cause redesign, request for waiver,
or other action to address the shortfall.
The shortfall may be due to the parameters used for the
simulation, the algorithms used by the software, a lack of
understanding of how long to simulate, how many independent
random number streams to use, and/or how many runs to use.
Analytical solutions for highly complex models are based on
approximations.
2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

12

Cautions - 2

The programs do not necessarily describe variables in the same


manner.
i.e.When using the Lognormal distribution, there was a
difference in terminology between Raptor and BlockSim.
Raptor allows the Lognormal to be entered as Mean and
Std Dev. or Mu and Sigma.
BlockSim only uses Mean and Std. Dev., but this is the
same as Raptors Mu and Sigma.
A novice could waste a great deal of time clarifying
what needs to be entered as data.

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

13

Cautions - 3
Modeling special cases can be difficult because of the way the
programs handle standby (which was in our models) and
phasing (which was not in our models).
Output parameters were not consistently labeled. The user
should understand the difference between MTTF, MTTFF,
MTBDE, and MTBF for reliability and MDT and MTTR for
maintainability.

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

14

Cautions - 4

The products provide reliability and availability results with


various adjectives such as mean, point, conditional, etc.
A review of the literature provided with the packages is
necessary to understand these terms and relate them to those
found in specifications, handbooks, references, and texts.
It is a serious issue that there doesnt appear to be standard
and/or consistent terminology and notation from one
program to another as well as to standard literature in the
field.

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

15

Cautions - 5

Flexibility
Each package has tabs, checkboxes, preferences, defaults, multiple
random number streams, selectable seeds for random numbers, etc to
facilitate the modeling, analysis, and simulation process.
Flexibility can provide huge pitfalls to the analyst.
Care in modeling, and use of support services provided by the
software supplier is a good practice.
Numerous runs and reruns may be necessary due to idiosyncrasies of
the software,
Beware of errors in modeling, confusion of parameter definition, etc.
Problems compound as a variety of failure distributions are
intermixed with a similar grouping of repair distributions.
As a model becomes more complex, simulation becomes mandatory
2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

16

Observations - 1

The models can run quickly even on old Pentium II PCs, or they can
take hours to run.
Length of simulation time, number of runs, and failure rate of the
system can all contribute to lengthening of simulation time.
One of the models took in excess of 1 hour on a 3 GHz Pentium
IV.
Convergence of the results is heavily dependent on how consistent
the block failure rates are.
For example, one block with an MTBF of 1000 hours, can double
or triple simulation time.
The display during simulation on some of the packages shows the
general trend, but there can be a lot of outliers.
One model failed to converge on one of the packages again this
may have been due to a subtle preference selection (or nonselection).

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

17

Observations - 2

The display of Availability and or Reliability during simulation can


be useful for seeing how the simulation is behaving.
For most models, this rapidly stabilizes to the first decimal place,
then the second decimal place tends to bounce around.
Usually you get the first 2 significant figures in a hundred runs.
We have the impression that most of the user interfaces were
designed by software designers, working with R&M engineers.
The problem is that we seem to have gotten what an R&M
engineer would tell someone never having used the product.
For example, its really annoying that you have to double
click and work through tabs to put data into blocks in the
block diagrams; the alternative is to use the Item Properties
Table, which doesn't let you create blocks and in some
cases change probability distributions.

2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

18

Recommendations

When demonstrating compliance to a requirement is required


Model system using one of the following approaches to reduce
human error
Have one analyst model in two different software packages
Software methodologies are sufficiently different to
avoid repeating errors
Have second analyst perform detailed audit of model and
data entry
Have two analysts independently model and enter data
Compare results
Results should agree within +/- 3 Standard Errors of the
Mean
Make detailed notes of assumptions, methods, simulation values,
etc. to provide an audit trail
2007 RAMS Brall, Hagen, Tran

19