Optimal policies in reliability modelling of systems subject to sporadic shocks and continuous healing
Recent years have seen a growth in research on system reliability and maintenance. Various studies in the scientific fields of reliability engineering, quality and productivity analyses, risk assessment, software reliability, and probabilistic machine learning are being undertaken in the present era. The dependency of human life on technology has made it more important to maintain such systems and maximize their potential. In this dissertation, some methodologies are presented that maximize certain measures of system reliability, explain the underlying stochastic behavior of certain systems, and prevent the risk of system failure.
An overview of the dissertation is provided in Chapter 1, where we briefly discuss some useful definitions and concepts in probability theory and stochastic processes and present some mathematical results required in later chapters. Thereafter, we present the motivation and outline of each subsequent chapter.
In Chapter 2, we compute the limiting average availability of a one-unit repairable system subject to repair facilities and spare units. Formulas for finding the limiting average availability of a repairable system exist only for some special cases: (1) either the lifetime or the repair-time is exponential; or (2) there is one spare unit and one repair facility. In contrast, we consider a more general setting involving several spare units and several repair facilities; and we allow arbitrary life- and repair-time distributions. Under periodic monitoring, which essentially discretizes the time variable, we compute the limiting average availability. The discretization approach closely approximates the existing results in the special cases; and demonstrates as anticipated that the limiting average availability increases with additional spare unit and/or repair facility.
In Chapter 3, the system experiences two types of sporadic impact: valid shocks that cause damage instantaneously and positive interventions that induce partial healing. Whereas each shock inflicts a fixed magnitude of damage, the accumulated effect of k positive interventions nullifies the damaging effect of one shock. The system is said to be in Stage 1, when it can possibly heal, until the net count of impacts (valid shocks registered minus valid shocks nullified) reaches a threshold $m_1$. The system then enters Stage 2, where no further healing is possible. The system fails when the net count of valid shocks reaches another threshold $m_2 (> m_1)$. The inter-arrival times between successive valid shocks and those between successive positive interventions are independent and follow arbitrary distributions. Thus, we remove the restrictive assumption of an exponential distribution, often found in the literature. We find the distributions of the sojourn time in Stage 1 and the failure time of the system. Finally, we find the optimal values of the choice variables that minimize the expected maintenance cost per unit time for three different maintenance policies.
In Chapter 4, the above defined Stage 1 is further subdivided into two parts: In the early part, called Stage 1A, healing happens faster than in the later stage, called Stage 1B. The system stays in Stage 1A until the net count of impacts reaches a predetermined threshold $m_A$; then the system enters Stage 1B and stays there until the net count reaches another predetermined threshold $m_1 (>m_A)$. Subsequently, the system enters Stage 2 where it can no longer heal. The system fails when the net count of valid shocks reaches another predetermined higher threshold $m_2 (> m_1)$. All other assumptions are the same as those in Chapter 3. We calculate the percentage improvement in the lifetime of the system due to the subdivision of Stage 1. Finally, we make optimal choices to minimize the expected maintenance cost per unit time for two maintenance policies.
Next, we eliminate the restrictive assumption that all valid shocks and all positive interventions have equal magnitude, and the boundary threshold is a preset constant value. In Chapter 5, we study a system that experiences damaging external shocks of random magnitude at stochastic intervals, continuous degradation, and self-healing. The system fails if cumulative damage exceeds a time-dependent threshold. We develop a preventive maintenance policy to replace the system such that its lifetime is utilized prudently. Further, we consider three variations on the healing pattern: (1) shocks heal for a fixed finite duration $\tau$; (2) a fixed proportion of shocks are non-healable (that is, $\tau=0$); (3) there are two types of shocks---self healable shocks heal for a finite duration, and non-healable shocks. We implement a proposed preventive maintenance policy and compare the optimal replacement times in these new cases with those in the original case, where all shocks heal indefinitely.
Finally, in Chapter 6, we present a summary of the dissertation with conclusions and future research potential.
- Doctor of Philosophy