Service Parts Forecasting
The main way service parts are currently forecasted is through the development of a MTBF. The MTBF is often developed from using similar parts and can be derived mathematically. However, there are also companies that perform physical testing to develop the MTBF number. One such company is called Reliatech. http://reliateck.com/new/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=32&Itemid=95 You send your products to them, and they perform the reliability testing. This type of testing goes beyond simply testing an overall component. This is explained below.
Reliability testing may be performed at several levels. Complex systems may be tested at component, circuit board, unit, assembly, subsystem and system levels. (The test level nomenclature varies among applications.) For example, performing environmental stress screening tests at lower levels, such as piece parts or small assemblies, catches problems before they cause failures at higher levels. – Wikipedia
These vendors work in what is called the “reliability prediction” area or sub-industry. This page gives a good overview of how this is done.
A few other MTBF services out there provide you with an MTBF when you provide your BOM to them. Optionally, instead of having them do the work, there is also reliability software. In either case you correlate the MTBF to your BOM.(This actually brings up the topic of PLM which we will discuss in our next post.) See the MTBF service below.
Generally, there is a high level of frustration at clients we have seen in developing and managing their MTBF. Reliability testing and prediction is a difficult area and one should not shy away from bringing in expertise in this area to get the MTBFs as accurate as possible.
Article on MTBF
We found this to be an informative article on the topic, in terms of why MTBF is used as well as different MTBF options.