10.4.1 What do the terms stand for?

The term often referred to as RAMS (Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety) refers to the standards that any Total Quality Control system should have. This set of requirements will ensure that the system will be able to perform its functions under any given conditions (reliability), it will be able to be restored to its original state when maintenance occurs and it will be able to perform its required activities without losses for its entire life cycle (maintainability) without bearing any risk (safety). Availability is often omitted as it is a simple function of Reliability and Maintainability.1

RAMS analyses can be performed for the review of any system, regardless of its nature. Sectors that have been reported to be in need of RAMS analyses include the energy sector, medicine and communications. The aforementioned business sectors are in need of constant checking in order to be up-to-date with developments and guarantee prevention from possible system failures and risks. For example in the energy sector it is imperative to have stable and reliable systems, as many other business sectors depend upon it and it is characterized by interdependent activities, often having to do with human lives. Wherever such risks are present, scientific reliability, maintainability and safety of the operating systems should be the rule and not the exception.

RAMS standards clearly determine that the quality of any task and any deficits in any of the fields they represent (reliability, maintainability, availability and safety) will result in extra costs (which will be much higher than the original cost of system testing through these standards). This is where good management skills are of the essence, so as to minimize possible extra costs.2

1 Wikipedia Entry on Safety, Last Viewed September 2009.
2 Wikipedia Entry on Total Quality Management, Last Viewed September 2009.