2010 Prognostics & System Health Management Conf., Macau, China, Jan. 12-14, 2010.

Physics-of-Failure Approach for Fan PHM in Electronics Applications

Hyunseok Oh1, Michael H. Azarian1, and Michael Pecht1,2

1. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
2. Prognostics and Health Management Center, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, P.R. China



Fans have been a widely accepted solution for the thermal management of electronics equipment. A fan is a critical component that affects the performance of expensive systems such as telecom equipment, power supplies, and server computers. The failure of a fan can lead to intermittent or catastrophic failures of the target system. There is a growing interest in prognostics and health management (PHM) of fans in the electronics industry.

A physics-of-failure (PoF) based PHM approach allows the assessment and prediction of reliability under the actual loading conditions. The PoF approach for fan PHM is based on failure modes, mechanisms and effect analysis (FMMEA). FMMEA of brushless direct current (BLDC) fans was conducted considering expected application load conditions. The causalities between failure causes and modes of BLDC fans were demonstrated focusing on each failure mechanism. The prioritization of potential failure mechanisms was performed with the estimation of risk priority numbers. Life expectancies of fan ball bearings based on two potential failure mechanisms, including fatigue and lubricant deterioration, were calculated and compared to each other.

Advantages and disadvantages of the PoF based PHM approach are discussed. A potential application of the PoF based PHM approach to improve fan qualification is addressed. Challenges, including predicting overstress failures and re-estimating reliability after design upgrades, are also addressed.

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