Failure Rates

Tech Note

How long can one expect an electronic unit to survive? The answer to that question is based on a statistical parameter called "failure rate". If one knows the failure rate of a device, then how long before the unit fails can be statistically predicted. This prediction is defined as the "mean time before failure", MTBF, which is the reciprocal of the "failure rate". For example, if the failure rate is 0.0001 per hour, then the MTBF (how long will it operate before failing) is 10,000 hours. In this case, one could statistically expect the unit to survive 10,000 hours before it failed.

Failure rates are critical in advanced state-of-the-art products, particularly military products. Consequently, the US military has done extensive research for their handbook (MIL-HDBK-217E) on failure rates and how to statistically calculate failure rate estimates for devices containing many different types of components. This handbook has become "the" accepted standard for calculating failure rate predictions and is recommended as further reading.

Failure rates are minimized (maximizing survival) in Dataforth signal conditioning modules by; optimizing designs with high quality low failure rate components, using modern quality manufacturing methods, and implementing individual product tests (100% sample) with temperature burn-ins, which is designed to eliminate all products subject to infant mortality failures.

Dataforth calculated failure rate predictions using MIL-HDBK-217E are available in Application Notes AN503 (63Kb pdf) and AN704 (50Kb pdf).

Remember, our Application Engineers can assist you with signal conditioner selection over the phone or via fax and email. Call us at our manufacturing facility in Tucson at 520-741-1404 (fax 520-741-0762) or Email us at

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