Bathtub Curve

Figure 1 shows a typical time versus failure rate curve for equipment. This is the well known “bathtub curve,” which, over the years, has become widely accepted by the reliability community.

It has proven to be particularly appropriate for electronic equipment and systems. Note that it displays the three failure rate patterns, a decreasing failure rate (DFR), constant failure rate (CFR), and an increasing failure rate (IFR).

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Reliability Theory

Most modern engineering disciplines are based on applied mathematics. An engineer or scientist observes a particular event and formulates a hypothesis (or conceptual model) which describes a relationship between the observed facts and the event being studied. In the physical sciences, conceptual models are, for the most part, mathematical in nature. Mathematical models represent an efficient, shorthand method of describing an event and the more significant factors which may cause, or affect, the occurrence of the event. Such models are useful to engineers since they provide the theoretical foundation for the development of an engineering discipline and a set of engineering design principles which can be applied to cause or prevent the occurrence of an event.

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