Engineering failure analysis has made rapid strides in recent years, progressing from analysis of a breakdown after it has happened to proactive prediction of an imminent failure months before it takes place. Simultaneously, analytical instruments are becoming portable and smart, with the ability to predict failure and perform analysis on the field.
“Engineering failure analysis plays a vital role in the quality control, design improvement and safety of assets,” says Frost & Sullivan Technical Insights Research Analyst Vishnu Sivadevan. “Additionally, it drives greater reliability of devices and is an efficient tool to maintain as well as manage aging infrastructure, thereby reducing asset lifecycle costs and maximizing return on investment.”
The quest to decrease downtime is a major driver for failure analysis technologies. Industries are constantly looking to achieve the elusive ‘zero downtime’, but many of them are unable to do so using existing failure analysis devices. This is driving the development of highly advanced techniques such as predictive failure analysis and intelligent maintenance systems that could help companies achieve nil downtime, reduced labor costs and enhanced safety.
Advances in information technology have played a big part in enhancing the reliability of assets. The introduction of innovative software that uses computations to process sensor signals has helped condition monitoring systems transform into predictive warning systems.
Developments in sensor technology have also contributed significantly to enhancing the capabilities of predictive failure analysis techniques. Sophisticated wireless sensors, for instance, have enhanced real-time monitoring to the extent that it can even be carried out in previously inaccessible locations.
A good case in point is the monitoring of tire pressure in automobiles. Since sensors can be easily placed in such ‘difficult’ locations, this not only opens up new failure analysis opportunities, but also helps improve operators’ safety.
The use of corrosion sensors in monitoring aging infrastructure and assets is also on the rise, with optical fiber corrosion sensors being specially developed for use in many applications such as monitoring civil structures and aircraft frames.
Emerging real-time oil analysis technologies developed for machines are also taking in-situ predictive failure analysis to the next level, allowing a continuous monitoring of oil to gauge the machine’s health. This is a great improvement on earlier methods of oil analysis, wherein oil samples had to be taken to the laboratory for testing.
However, the greatest progress in failure analysis has been in the area of semiconductors, where the increasing miniaturization is driving improvements in analytical techniques and instruments. At the same time, this decrease in size is proving to be quite a challenge for analytical instruments.
“The reduction in size and form factor of electronic devices has caused the accommodation of more components in unit space, leading to miniaturization and pushing the capabilities of analytical instruments to the limits,” says Sivadevan. “As these devices get smaller, higher resolution and precision sensing capabilities are required in analytical instruments.”
For instance, semiconductor components require a range of analytical instruments to assess failure. The capabilities of all these instruments have to keep pace with the technology roadmap of semiconductors. Essentially, failure analysis devices are enabling technologies for the advancement of semiconductors. The development of new electronic package technologies is driving fault isolation, imaging and physical failure analysis techniques.
Engineering Failure Analysis – A Technology Assessment is part of the Automation and Electronics (D914-TI) vertical subscription service, and analyzes various technologies that form an integral part of predictive and post-mortem failure analysis systems. It focuses on major emerging failure analysis techniques as well as on analytical techniques and instrumentation. Executive summaries and interviews are available to the press.
If you are interested in an analysis which provides manufacturers, end users, and other industry participants with an overview, summary, challenges, and latest coverage of Engineering Failure Analysis – A Technology Assessment – then send an e-mail to Tori Foster – North American Corporate Communications at tori.foster[.]frost.com with the following information: Full name, Company Name, Title, Contact Tel Number, Contact Fax Number, E-mail. Upon receipt of the above information, an overview will be e-mailed to you.
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