Paper on the issues with mtbf published in the Spring 2011 issue of the RMSP Journal.
MTBF is widely used to describe the reliability of a component or system. It is also often misunderstood and used incorrectly. In some sense, the very name “mean time between failures” contributes to the misunderstanding. The objective of this paper is to explore the nature of the MTBF misunderstandings and the impact on decision-making and program costs.
Mean-Time-Between-Failure (MTBF) as defined by MIL-STD-721C Definition of Terms for Reliability and Maintainability, 12 June 1981, is
A basic measure of reliability for repairable items: The mean number of life units during which all parts of the item perform within their specified limits, during a particular measurement interval under stated conditions.
The related measure, Mean-Time-To-Failure (MTTF) is define as
A basic measure of reliability for non-repairable items: The total number of life units of an item divided by the total number of failures within that population, during a particular measurement interval under stated conditions.