Green Reliability Technical Paper

"Going green" is a term that is increasingly used, is not well understood, and has many economic and technical implications - from the materials being used to the type of energy being used, and the quantity being consumed. Each aspect of going green also has reliability implications due to the inherent reliability risks that arise when we change material properties or design concepts. Companies have yet to address the reliability aspects when going green.

Without established taxonomies for design of environmentally friendly products, the "Green Revolution" will come and go without much impact on our environment. And even the standards that are being developed do not address the topic of reliability. If a product fails prematurely, the standards call out how to dispose of the product, but reliability engineering may offer solutions for preventing it from failing in the first place.

This paper will explore different green industries and the role of reliability. Some of the industries that will be explored are solar, wind, telecom centers, electric meters, electric vehicles, and fuel cells. Reliability engineering is going to play an important role in all of these industries because they are trying to replace an incumbent and must be as good or better. Some of the emerging reliability demands are:

• Higher Reliability Demands
• Higher Availability Demands
• Higher Warranty Requirements
• New Materials/New Risks
• Pressure on reducing power

For each industry the paper will explore the potential risks (in the form of failure modes), some of the consequences of these risks (failure effects), and which reliability techniques can be used to mitigate these risks.

Green is an increasingly common theme in product campaigns and marketing, including new symbols, slogans and pictures. Numerous websites today make claims such as "we are going green".

The U.S. government has promoted green standards, such as EPEAT. EPEAT evaluates electronic products in relation to 51 environmental criteria, including 23 required criteria and 28 optional criteria. To qualify for registration as an EPEAT product, the product must conform to all the required criteria. Depending on the number of criteria a company conforms to, there are different EPEAT marking. Figure 2 shows the different markings:

EPEAT sets standards for:

• Reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials
• Materials selection
• Design for end of life
• Product life cycle extension
• Energy conservation
• End of life management
• Corporate performance
• Packaging

Notice that there are no standards set for quality or reliability. If the product fails prematurely, they promote proper disposal, but why not work on preventing it from failing in the first place?