Functional Safety is a field of engineering where critical design goals include high reliability and predictable failure (fail-safe). The IEC 61508 family of standards are performance-based standards for functional safety that are commonly applied to the design and development of automatic protection systems in a variety of applications (process industry, industrial / machinery equipment, medical devices, railways, mining, automotive, etc). These standards do not present prescriptive solutions at the safety function level, but instead specify the use of performance metrics.
With performance-based standards, manufacturers and end users must show that their design meets its target performance criteria. Reliability performance is often predicted using a Failure Modes, Effects and Diagnostics Analysis (FMEDA), which relies on detailed component failure rate information including failure modes / distributions and useful life. Experienced engineers know that FMEDA results, however, are only as good as the failure rate information used and associated component reliability database.
This paper reviews a comprehensive, calibrated component reliability database that overcomes the limitations of component reliability handbooks and databases currently used in industry.