Accelerated Life Testing or its better-known counterpart ALT, is basically the process of testing a particular product under extremely harsh conditions to identify the product’s potential failure points and other limitations within a very short span of time.
For Example, A cell phone manufacturer might conduct the following ALT test to gauge the product’s failure points.
- Dropping the phone from different heights, and also dropping different objects on the cell phone
- Keeping the phone under different temperature, cold or hot and test its quality
- Checking the call quality after exposing its heavy amount of dust.
In order to understand accelerated life testing, one needs to understand the concepts of reliability and mean time between failures aka MTBF
This is the probability that the product will perform the same functions under specified conditions. Eg. The reliability of software would the software’s ability to deliver the same output after ‘n’ number of tests.
Mean Time Between Failures
MTBF is the average time between subsequent failures. It basically defines how reliable a particular product is.
So as we said, life testing the process of testing a particular product under extremely harsh conditions to identify the product’s potential failure points and other limitations within a very short span of time. It helps us understand and improve the reliability of a particular product. It also helps establish the strong and weakest features of the product.
Life testing was once used to determine the failure time of a particular product. If the failure time was too long, then the product was analyzing time, redesigning time and its release time in the market were all delayed.
In a world where customers prefer to change with the drop of a hat, consumers might not notice a product that takes such a long time to be available in the market wherein they have multiple options to choose from. The product development teams need to reduce the cycle time, and accelerated life testing does just that with great efficiency.
The results of this test are sent for analysis, and based on this analysis the product is either modified or redesigned to meet customer expectations.
There are 2 types of ALT
- Usage Rate Acceleration aka Compressed Rate acceleration– The time taken to failure is advance while everything else is managed at a normal pace.
- Over Stress Acceleration – A stress level higher than the normal operating condition is used.
The objective of Accelerated Life Test
- Identify the qualitative feature
- Quantify the characteristics
There are many advantages to doing Accelerated Life Testing
- It helps identify the life of a product which is useful when marketing for the said product or predict its future demand
- It can help in the improved design quality of the product or formulate a new product development cycle altogether.
- With reliability and MTBF, the user can know the warranty cost and plan.
Accelerated life testing can be a costly endeavor and needs to be carried out carefully. It is advised to use qualitative testing first to identify failures and then move to quantitative testing to save costs.