Reliability HotWire: eMagazine for the Reliability Professional
Reliability HotWire

Issue 12, February 2002

On The Hot Seat

Brian Haan, LaserComm Inc.

Brian Haan is the reliability manager for LaserComm Inc. In addition to developing and managing the reliability program, he is responsible for identifying means to raise device reliability beyond current industrial standards. Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Haan served as reliability engineering manager for G.E. Harris-Harmon, and as a reliability engineer for Harmon Industries, SAIC, Lockheed-Martin and Loral Space Information Systems.

Mr. Haan earned an MSEE at Louisiana State University for a thesis on evaluating network reliability of massively distributed systems and a BS in Applied Optics from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.


Brian Haan, Reliability Manager for LaserComm Inc.

* Which ReliaSoft applications do you currently use, and how long have you been using them?

I started using ALTA after attending a course on accelerated testing taught by [ReliaSoft President/CEO] Pantelis Vassiliou in June of 1999. What immediately impressed me was balance between ease-of-use and versatility. My satisfaction with ALTA led me to evaluate and then adopt Weibull++ a few months later. I began using BlockSim shortly after it was released.



What, if any, reliability analysis software packages did you use prior to using ReliaSoft applications?

Prior to adopting the ReliaSoft tools, I most frequently relied on Excel, MathCAD, Relex and RAPTOR. Excel and MathCAD really served as the analytical backbone. The Relex package was adequate for the part-count activities but I never learned to trust its RBDA [reliability block diagram analysis] function. The version of RAPTOR I was using at the time could not support analysis of the system complexity I desired. I had evaluated demonstration versions of other packages geared towards the reliability professional but found they lacked the value proposition that the ReliaSoft tools would later deliver.



What are the goals of your reliability program and what role do ReliaSoft applications have in achieving these goals?

LaserComm products are built around a unique technology that helps overcome many of the historical limits of advanced optical networks. The ultimate goal of LaserComm's reliability program is to ensure that optical networks are inherently more reliable when they apply our products. LaserComm's reliability tests and analyses are engineered so that device performance under test conditions can be accurately translated into forecasts of device reliability in the specific context of a customer's system. To successfully deploy these reliability tests requires both a thorough understanding of the device and a competent assessment of the test data. The ReliaSoft applications help us assess the test data by providing the analytical horsepower for processing intangible test data into findings that result in measurable reliability growth. For example, a typical analysis requires fitting and assessing test data against a reliability model to generate findings that can be leveraged to improve product reliability. ALTA quickly and accurately fits the test data to the desired life-stress model and solves for unknown parameters. Because ALTA handles the mathematics used to find parameters for the abstract reliability model, LaserComm can focus its attention on interpreting findings and continuing to improve the device.



What is the greatest challenge faced by your reliability program and how do ReliaSoft applications help you meet this challenge?

The greatest challenge LaserComm faces with its reliability program is rooted in the revolutionary nature of its technology. Revolutionary technology often carries the potential to make dramatic gains in reliability per unit of performance. The challenge is to learn how to leverage this new technology to raise reliability beyond the current industrial standard. Because LaserComm's technology is unique, there is very little field-history to draw upon. Therefore, the reliability models must be derived from theory and the model parameters determined through testing. ReliaSoft applications are critical to this analysis because they bring the computational power to empirically model product reliability that challenges our theoretical understanding. By using the ReliaSoft tools in concert with our device knowledge, we can identify which parameters had the most effect on the reliability test results, resulting in extraordinary and sustained reliability growth.



How do ReliaSoft applications help your reliability program prepare for the future?

LaserComm's products allow for flexibility in the design of the optical network. This flexibility opens up design options not available today and has the potential to change the context in which device reliability is assessed. ReliaSoft applications are versatile, easy to use, and precisely engineered, enabling LaserComm to easily tailor the analyses as the context of reliability changes. In order to sustain continuous improvement, the reliability organization must have the capability of evaluating device reliability from multiple contexts. To a considerable degree, this evaluation can be accomplished with BlockSim. BlockSim's ability to provide exact system solutions translates into an ability to build a logic model of device reliability under multiple contexts. Logic models can then be placed in phantom systems from which an importance or optimization calculation shows where to place engineering focus. This helps assure that we both provide our customers an inherently reliable device and also empower our customers to leverage our technology throughout the system to make their systems more competitive with respect to reliability, cost and performance.



What do you like the best about ReliaSoft applications?

What I like best is the reliability engineering expertise and innovations that get built into the reasonably-priced applications. ReliaSoft applications provide a sophisticated data analysis capability with a solid base in the fundamentals of reliability engineering.



What would you like to see ReliaSoft do in the future to improve current applications, or add to the current family of tools?

I'll sum up a few of the bigger wishes by product:
Weibull++: On the contour charts, I would like to be able to set up a reliability target contour. For example - given a failure distribution and a reliability target expressed as a probability at some time, I would like to see which combinations of distribution parameters would meet the requirement.
BlockSim: An option to have importance calculations drill down multiple layers in an RBD hierarchy. Also, adding life-stress relationships to the blocks to assess system reliability at differing levels of stress (basically, build a bridge between ALTA and BlockSim).


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