Reliability is the ability to successfully perform an intended function under the intended conditions. It can be expressed as a probability of success, or as a rate of failure (i.e., failures per hour, cycle, mile or other life unit). Sometimes it is combined with maintainability, the rate at which an item can be repaired, into availability, a measure of the percentage of time that an item is successfully operating. Reliability is an important characteristic of products and systems, regardless of whether they are intended for routine commercial use or for critical military operations. Reliability impacts mission success and support costs for military systems, and warranty costs and customer satisfaction for commercial products. Safety and liability are also important factors in the need for reliability. Whether delivering products, systems, or even services, today’s successful companies need to worry about reliability. It’s hard to find published advertisements for successful companies that don’t tout the reliability (and/or quality) of their offerings as a market discriminator!
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