Field tests ask about the unknown risks of future product use. They provide the first real load-response behavior in the product life cycle. This is just as useful for verifying development results as it is for condition-based and predictive maintenance. Especially for durable B2B products and fleets – such as railways, construction machinery, etc. – field tests are an essential building block for reliability and durability.
The promise of virtualization is the elimination of the complex and costly testing programs. However, development practice shows that field tests’ contributions are indispensable for numerous failure risks. The a priori known failure risks are addressed by focused tests in order to raise the components and subsystems to the highest possible degree of maturity. However, surprises in the field, resulting from novel failure mechanisms or unexpected operating load cases, are not covered. These issues require a complementary “agnostic approach”, which refrains from concrete damage mechanisms aiming at the long-term system behavior under conditions that are as heterogeneous but realistic as possible.
The long overhaul/warranty/lifetimes of B2B products cannot be covered by field tests for most failure risks. However, field tests contain a lot of information about the actual damage under realistic load conditions. Evaluate this information systematically:
For less than 10% of the test costs, these analyses provide you with an – otherwise unavailable – basis for the lifetime calculation and also for the calibration of a risk-focused fleet monitoring.
Degradation generally leads to a gradual change in the system load behavior. Damage indicators include component temperatures, system efficiency, load response, etc. Prevent unplanned outages by observing these indicators.