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Title: A Statistical Perspective on Highly Accelerated Testing

Highly accelerated life testing has been heavily promoted at Sandia (and elsewhere) as a means to rapidly identify product weaknesses caused by flaws in the product's design or manufacturing process. During product development, a small number of units are forced to fail at high stress. The failed units are then examined to determine the root causes of failure. The identification of the root causes of product failures exposed by highly accelerated life testing can instigate changes to the product's design and/or manufacturing process that result in a product with increased reliability. It is widely viewed that this qualitative use of highly accelerated life testing (often associated with the acronym HALT) can be useful. However, highly accelerated life testing has also been proposed as a quantitative means for "demonstrating" the reliability of a product where unreliability is associated with loss of margin via an identified and dominating failure mechanism. It is assumed that the dominant failure mechanism can be accelerated by changing the level of a stress factor that is assumed to be related to the dominant failure mode. In extreme cases, a minimal number of units (often from a pre-production lot) are subjected to a single highly accelerated stress relativemore » to normal use. If no (or, sufficiently few) units fail at this high stress level, some might claim that a certain level of reliability has been demonstrated (relative to normal use conditions). Underlying this claim are assumptions regarding the level of knowledge associated with the relationship between the stress level and the probability of failure. The primary purpose of this document is to discuss (from a statistical perspective) the efficacy of using accelerated life testing protocols (and, in particular, "highly accelerated" protocols) to make quantitative inferences concerning the performance of a product (e.g., reliability) when in fact there is lack-of-knowledge and uncertainty concerning the assumed relationship between the stress level and performance. In addition, this document contains recommendations for conducting more informative accelerated tests.« less
  1. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States