Calculate Your Asset Health with Mean Time to Failure (MTTF)

    In today's competitive landscape, maximizing the efficiency and reliability of non-repairable assets is crucial for any organization. How can we predict the lifespan of these assets and make informed decisions to reduce downtime and maintenance costs? Enter Mean Time to Failure (MTTF), the answer to this pressing issue.

    Unraveling the concept of MTTF, delving into its importance and exploring strategies to optimize it can help you extend the life of your assets and gain better control of your equipment’s repair schedule. A few key points to keep in mind are:

    • Mean Time to Failure (MTTF) is a key metric for cost-effective asset management and reducing unplanned downtime.
    • Factors such as operating conditions, usage patterns, environmental conditions and installation quality can affect MTTF.
    • Strategies like using quality replacement parts, preventive/predictive maintenance & leveraging maintenance software are essential for maximizing MTTF performance.

    Demystifying Mean Time to Failure (MTTF)

    A technician inspecting a mission critical asset to inform preventive maintenance schedules

    Mean Time to Failure (MTTF) is an important maintenance measure. It is used to quantify the average time a non-repairable asset operates until it fails. MTTF is invaluable for understanding and improving maintenance strategies, as it can inform preventive maintenance schedules and reduce the likelihood of system failures. It is a widely used concept in reliability engineering, particularly for non-repairable assets such as light bulbs, fan belts and conveyor belt rollers.

    But why is MTTF so crucial for optimizing maintenance strategies and what sets it apart from other failure metrics? Let's dive deeper into the importance of MTTF and its application to non-repairable assets.

    The Importance of MTTF

    MTTF is essential for assessing and optimizing maintenance plans. By gauging the average lifespan of a non-repairable asset, MTTF allows us to streamline preventive maintenance scheduling, recognize potential reliability issues and monitor reliability enhancement. Understanding MTTF can lead to significant cost savings and improved asset management, as it helps minimize reliance on reactive maintenance and unplanned downtimes.

    Moreover, MTTF can be utilized to pinpoint potential reliability areas of concern, evaluate the reliability of a device or asset and monitor reliability improvement. By calculating MTTF, we can make informed decisions on when to replace or service components, ensuring smooth operation and minimizing unexpected failures.

    Non-Repairable Assets and MTTF

    For mission-critical systems, MTTF is employed to monitor the performance of non-repairable system components and estimate their operating time before failure. It is important to differentiate MTTF from Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF). While MTTF focuses on non-repairable assets, MTBF applies to repairable assets. Non-repairable assets are components or parts that are inexpensive or easily replaceable, such as fan belts, transistors or conveyor belt rollers, which become less effective with use.

    Maintenance strategies for non-repairable assets can be fundamentally divided into three categories: run-to-fail maintenance, preventive maintenance and condition-based maintenance. Each type of maintenance has its advantages and disadvantages. By understanding the MTTF of these assets, we can devise tailored maintenance strategies that ensure a longer period of smooth operation and cost-effective asset management.

    Calculating MTTF: A Step-by-Step Guide

    To calculate MTTF, you need two pieces of information. The first is the total hours of operation and the second is the total number of assets in use. Once you have these two values, simply divide the total hours of operation by the total number of assets in use. For example, if a system has been operational for 10,000 hours and has 10 assets in use, the MTTF would be calculated as 10,000/10 = 1,000 hours.

    However, certain factors can affect the accuracy of the MTTF calculation, such as environmental conditions, installation quality and comparison to similar assets. Let's explore these factors in more detail to ensure a better understanding of how to accurately calculate MTTF.

    Factors Affecting MTTF

    MTTF is influenced by various factors, including total hours of operation, total number of assets in use, age, operating conditions and usage patterns of the asset. It is important to note that MTBF does not take into account planned maintenance. Environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity and dust, can also significantly affect the MTTF of an asset.

    Furthermore, the quality of installation plays a pivotal role in determining the MTTF of an asset. Inadequate installation can result in premature asset failure, affecting the overall MTTF. Comparing the MTTF of an asset to similar assets can provide valuable insights into potential issues and areas for improvement.

    Example Calculation

    Consider an example of MTTF calculation for bearings in a manufacturing facility. Suppose we have five bearings with lifespans of 45, 50, 35, 40 and 47 hours. By taking the average of these hours and dividing it by the number of bearings, we can calculate the MTTF as (45+50+35+40+47)/5 = 43.4 hours. This value gives us a good baseline to compare with similar assets and identify areas for improvement.

    Calculating MTTF is essential for making informed maintenance decisions, anticipating potential failures and optimizing the lifespan of non-repairable assets. By understanding the factors that impact MTTF, we can more accurately predict the performance of our assets and take necessary measures to ensure their longevity.

    Strategies for Improving MTTF

    The ultimate goal of monitoring MTTF is to maximize it, thereby enabling organizations to reduce expenditure on replacement parts and minimize unscheduled downtime. Several strategies can be employed to increase MTTF, such as using quality replacement parts, implementing preventive and predictive maintenance and testing new assets on an engineering project. By leveraging these strategies, we can improve the reliability and performance of our non-repairable assets and cut costs.

    We’ll take a look at these strategies in more detail and understand how they can contribute to a higher MTTF.

    Quality Replacement Parts

    Using quality replacement parts plays a significant role in improving MTTF. Components constructed by reliable manufacturers can serve as a substitute for the original parts without any potential issues. Generally Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts are more reliable and have a longer lifespan than aftermarket parts. Investing in quality replacement parts not only prolongs the lifespan of an asset but also decreases the likelihood of unexpected failures.

    To ensure the highest level of performance and durability, it is essential to source replacement parts from qualified professionals and reputable manufacturers. This investment will pay off in the long run by reducing maintenance costs and increasing the MTTF of your assets.

    Preventive and Predictive Maintenance

    Preventive and predictive maintenance are crucial strategies for improving MTTF. Preventive maintenance involves conducting regular maintenance tasks on equipment to avoid potential breakdowns. On the other hand, predictive maintenance is a data-driven approach that anticipates when maintenance is needed, instead of relying on historical data and best practices. Both approaches aim to detect and address potential issues before they occur, thereby decreasing the chance of breakdown and increasing Mean Time to Failure.

    By implementing preventive and predictive maintenance organizations can ensure the smooth operation of their non-repairable assets and maximize their MTTF. These strategies not only help prevent unexpected failures but also contribute to cost savings and improved asset management.

    maintenance manager describing a maintenance metric like Mean Time to Failure (MTTF)

    A technician replacing a part with a quality replacement part

    A technician calculating MTTF using a formula

    A technician scheduling maintenance tasks for inventory control

    Other Key Failure Metrics in Reliability Engineering

    While MTTF is a crucial metric in reliability engineering, it is not the only one. Other key failure metrics include Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) and Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF). Understanding these metrics, along with MTTF, can provide a comprehensive picture of an asset's performance and help organizations make informed maintenance decisions.

    Let's take a closer look at these other key failure metrics and how they differ from MTTF.

    Mean Time to Repair (MTTR)

    Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) is a failure metric that quantifies the amount of time taken to repair an asset and return it to its full functional capacity. MTTR measures the average time taken to identify the cause of asset failure and effect a repair, allowing maintenance teams to respond promptly to unplanned downtimes and restore asset functionality. Total Maintenance. Time is used to calculate the MTTR. It is divided by the Number of Repairs.

    While MTTR focuses on the time required to repair an asset, MTTF calculates the average time before a non-repairable asset ceases to function. Both metrics play an essential role in maintenance decision-making and help organizations optimize their maintenance strategies.

    Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF)

    Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) is another metric used to quantify the expected operational duration of an asset before its failure. MTBF is determined by dividing the total operational time by the number of failures. While it may seem closely related to MTTF, MTBF is applicable to repairable assets, whereas MTTF applies to non-repairable assets.

    Understanding the differences between MTTF, MTTR and MTBF is crucial for making informed maintenance decisions and optimizing the performance of both repairable and non-repairable assets. By leveraging these key failure metrics organizations can reduce downtime, cut maintenance costs and improve overall asset reliability.A technician and a maintenance team discussing failure metrics in front of an image showing the mean time to failure graph for inventory management system

    Leveraging MTTF for Inventory Control and Maintenance Planning

    MTTF can be a powerful tool for inventory control and maintenance planning. By leveraging MTTF organizations can optimize their preventive maintenance schedules, reduce the risk of breakdowns and enhance their preventive maintenance plans. This, in turn, helps in inventory control by reducing maintenance costs and ensuring that materials do not remain in the warehouse for extended periods.

    Let's explore how MTTF can be utilized for inventory management and scheduling maintenance tasks.

    Inventory Management

    Inventory management is the process of ordering, storing, utilizing and selling a company's inventory, to have the right products in the right place at the right time. Proper inventory control can contribute to improving MTTF by preventing overstocking and ensuring that materials do not remain in the warehouse for extended periods.

    By understanding the MTTF of non-repairable assets organizations can make informed decisions on which parts to carry in inventory and when to carry them. This not only helps in optimizing inventory levels but also contributes to reducing maintenance costs and improving asset performance.

    Scheduling Maintenance Tasks

    Scheduling maintenance tasks is of great importance as it guarantees that all maintenance activities are completed in a timely fashion and the required resources are available when needed. The process of scheduling maintenance tasks involves planning organizing and coordinating all activities that need to be completed by a maintenance department, including routine maintenance, repairs, replacements and inspections.

    By leveraging MTTF organizations can devise maintenance schedules that ensure a longer period of smooth operation and cost-effective asset management. This includes determining when maintenance tasks will be carried out, assigning tasks to technicians and monitoring progress to ensure timely completion.

    The Role of Maintenance Software in Maximizing MTTF

    Maintenance software is essential in optimizing Mean Time To Failure (MTTF) by tracking and scheduling maintenance activities, preventing failures and providing data for analyzing trends and recognizing potential problems. Some of the benefits of utilizing maintenance software include a centralized platform for tracking and scheduling maintenance tasks, delivering alerts and notifications when tasks are due and optimizing the maintenance process.

    In this section, we will explore how maintenance software can be leveraged for predictive analytics and enhanced communication among maintenance teams to maximize MTTF.

    Predictive Analytics

    Predictive analytics is the utilization of statistical techniques to examine current and historical data to form estimations regarding future occurrences and performance. It allows businesses to recognize potential events and opportunities before their occurrence. Some of the advantages of predictive analytics include identifying potential risks and opportunities in advance, facilitating proactive steps to minimize risks and capitalize on opportunities and optimizing operations and decreasing costs.

    Maintenance software can be employed to provide predictive analytics, which can detect potential problems before their occurrence and facilitate improved communication among maintenance teams to guarantee that any potential issues are addressed promptly. By leveraging predictive analytics organizations can identify potential failure points in a system and take proactive actions to avert them, thereby improving MTTF.

    Enhanced Communication Among Maintenance Teams

    Enhancing communication among maintenance teams is crucial for maximizing MTTF. This includes increasing the accessibility of records, centralizing maintenance communications, establishing a feedback loop and utilizing advanced communication technology to guarantee that all personnel have the necessary information to complete their tasks. 

    Effective communication also necessitates being explicit and succinct, planning, being conscious of nonverbal communication, engaging in active listening, cultivating emotional intelligence, formulating a workplace communication plan and creating a positive organizational culture.

    Maintenance software can facilitate optimizing communication among maintenance teams by providing a centralized platform for communication, enabling easy access to records and furnishing predictive analytics to assist in anticipating and averting potential problems.


    Understanding and optimizing Mean Time to Failure (MTTF) is crucial for any organization seeking to improve the reliability and performance of non-repairable assets. By leveraging MTTF, implementing strategies like quality replacement parts and preventive/predictive maintenance and utilizing maintenance software organizations can maximize the lifespan of their assets while reducing maintenance costs and equipment downtime. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Does Mean Time to Failure Mean?

    Mean Time To Failure (MTTF) is an important metric used to measure the reliability of a system. It represents an estimation of the average time a system will operate before failing.

    This is a valuable piece of information for engineers and companies alike, allowing them to anticipate necessary maintenance and replacement of components.

    What is MTTF and MTBF and MTTR?

    MTTR, MTBF and MTTF are all indicators of time in relation to a system's reliability. MTTR is the mean time to repair, while MTBF refers to the mean time between failures, and MTTF stands for mean time to fix.

    These three measurements help quantify a system's performance.

    What is a Good MTBF?

    A good MTBF is dependent on the equipment or system in question. It is important to calculate an appropriate value of MTBF for each specific piece of equipment or system, to gain a better understanding of reliability and expected performance.

    What is MTTR and MTBF Formula?

    MTTR is an acronym for Mean Time to Repair, a metric used to measure the average amount of time it takes to repair a failed component or system. MTTR is determined by calculating the total time spent repairing any issue divided by the number of times that particular issue was repaired.

    This metric is important for businesses to understand, as it can help them identify areas of their system that need improvement and can help them plan for future maintenance. It can also be used to compare the performance of different systems and components.

    The formula for MTBF in Excel is (TOT) / F, where TOT stands for Total Operational Time and F stands for the total number of failures.
    This calculation can be done by subtracting the time between two failure points from the total time the system was active to obtain TOT.


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