The annual Reliability and Maintainability Symposium (RAMS) was held in Palm Harbor, Florida, Jan. 26-29. RAMS is a weeklong conference that allows Reliability and Maintainability (R&M) practitioners from around the world to exchange knowledge, ideas and new technology.
“This is one of the few conferences where professionals can get together, see new technology, network and share lessons learned with other R&M professionals,” said R&M Technical Discipline Lead Richard Stutts.
The theme for 2015 was “Unleashing R&M Knowledge.” Approximately 20 NASA representatives attended the conference. Many also attended the NASA “splinter session” on Jan. 26.
“Ever since I’ve been going, I try to find all of the NASA representatives and get together for an hour or hour-and-a-half session,” said Stutts. “We discuss the current activities at the centers and any R&M issues, concerns, or points of interest that the center employees would like to discuss.”
One of the topics covered in the splinter sessions was creating more opportunities for on-the-job training, to supplement the online training available in SATERN and the Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) Technical Excellence Program (STEP).
“A few of the younger people were talking about more opportunities to do hands-on and on-the-job training,” said Stutts. “For example, there’s a FMEA [Failure Mode Effects Analysis] course for methodology, but they were thinking it would be nice to do a workshop, where experienced engineers could work with them to get a little more ‘hands-on’ experience in some of the tools and techniques covered in the STEP curriculum.”
RAMS provides a number of tutorials, presentations and papers on R&M that allow R&M professionals the opportunity to share their experiences. NSC Director Alan Phillips sat on the RAMS Advisory Board panel, and NASA R&M Technical Fellow Dr. Fayssal Safie and NASA Safety and Assurance Requirements Division Director Dr. Frank Groen both presented papers at this year’s symposium.
Safie’s paper, “Reliability and Probabilistic Risk Assessment — How They Play Together,” explains the differences between Reliability and Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA).
“The paper discusses how they play together, how they fit together, how they compare,” said Safie. “It’s something that our community needs. A lot of people get Reliability and PRA mixed up; they think they’re all the same. This paper looks at PRA as a system risk assessment process, while Reliability is a design engineering discipline that deals with loss of function.”
The paper was presented as an agency webinar on May 11.
Groen’s paper, “A Vision for Spaceflight Reliability: NASA’s Objective-Based Strategy,” laid out a new paradigm for R&M methods and techniques that would adapt to evolving development and design processes. The paper was co-authored by R&M Manager John Evans and Risk Analyst Anthony Hall (Information Systems Laboratory).
“There’s been an effort in the R&M discipline to capture the R&M design considerations for spacecraft. A good understanding of those considerations is really important, especially as our development processes and technology are changing. By understanding the considerations and motivations of what we do, we have a greater opportunity to be innovative and adapt to new situations,” said Groen.
RAMS 2016 will be held Jan. 25-28 in Tucson, Arizona. For more information, visit www.rams.org.