The objective of this research award is to develop a new methodology that uses an availability requirement as an input to the process of determining the optimal design and management of a system. Availability is the ability of a service or a system to be functional when it is requested for use or operation. Availability depends on an item's reliability (how often it fails) and maintainability (how efficiently it can be restored when it does fail). Availability is a significant issue for many systems including: ATM machines, point-of-sale systems, medical equipment, wind farms, military systems and airlines. For these safety, mission, and infrastructure critical systems, customers are often interested in buying the availability of a system through 'availability contracts' instead of actually buying the system itself. This research will develop a design for availability methodology applicable to single and multiple design parameters, perform model verification, integrate the model with life cycle cost analyses, and apply the model to logistics and reliability parameters, and within Prognostics and Health Management (PHM) environments.
If successful, this research will provide a significant new capability to: a) perform real-time pro-active availability analysis; b) determine requirements 'flow down' to supply chains; and c) perform pro-active reliability versus logistics tradeoffs, and assess the cost and resources required to deliver and support systems subject to availability contracts. Failure to maintain the availability of systems can result in enormous costs and, in the worst cases, the loss of life. Better knowledge and design methods for planning and dealing with availability requirements during system design and management will directly impact the quality of products and systems, the safety of systems everyone depends on and reduce the costs of supporting critical infrastructure. Undergraduate, graduate and industry students will also benefit from educational modules inserted into numerous university and industry short courses.