What is a FRACAS or DRACAS – Part 1

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Written by
James Latham


If you’re a seasoned reliability professional, and you are already familiar with FRACAS/DRACAS, then you may want to skip to the follow-on blog “What is a FRACAS or DRACAS – part 2”.

In the world of Reliability Engineering, the DRACAS (or FRACAS as we will soon see) is the corner stone of a reliability program. In this article, I would like to give a brief introduction to these systems and why they are so important.

Why collect data?

The 1970’s saw the birth of the Information Age, and 50 years later we are entering the golden age of data.

With vast amounts of data being collected, we all need to know how to manage it correctly, which will allow us to eventually leverage this data to help improve our business’.

Data driven decisions are becoming common place in industry, and failing to keep up with this trend will likely results a competitive disadvantage. Managing data is quite literally a requirement in 21st century engineering, so why not do it properly and use it to your advantage?

To step into this golden age of data, there are three key things we need to start doing:

  • Collect data correctly
  • Store data correctly
  • Learn how to leverage this data

A simple diagram shows the hierarchical relationship of these points:


From the diagram we can see that in order to leverage your data, you must store it correctly, and in order to store your data, you must be collecting the data correctly (and collecting the correct data).

In this article I will be giving an overview of what a FRACAS/DRACAS is. In a separate article I will delve into each of these points in more detail, showing you how a FRACAS/DRACAS helps you progress through these 3 stages.

Ultimately, I would like to understand how do we collect, store and leverage our data in world of failure reporting.


Within Reliability Engineering, a critical facet of data collection is the ongoing capture and review of failure records. Speaking generally, these records may include test data, warranty records, and maintenance reports of products and systems. This data can lead to an insightful knowledge base that “should” form one of the foundations of your reliability program.

The system of ongoing collection and review of records is commonly known as a FRACAS:

Failure Reporting Analysis and Corrective Action System

This is sometimes referred to as a DRACAS (Data Reporting Analysis and Corrective Action System).

Strictly speaking, the scope of a DRACAS extends beyond failures to include additional data. To keep things simple, I’ll stick with the term FRACAS, but the following information is applicable to DRACAS as well, as the fundamental principles are same.

The FRACAS is a combination of 2 things:

  • A FRACAS process.
  • A platform to facilitate this process.

1. FRACAS process

The details of a FRACAS process may vary from company to company, but typically it has the following structure, starting at the “Reliable Equipment” stage at the top:

Note that I have mapped on the “Collection” and “Leverage” stages.


2. FRACAS Platform

The second part of your FRACAS is the platform, helping to facilitate the process, but also helping to correctly store the data. The importance of the second stage will depend on the scale of your operations, and therefore your IT platform could be as simple as an Excel file to start with, through to a database solution, such as SAS, SAP, Maximo etc.

However, for enterprises investing in their reliability programs, a preferred solution is a centralized database with specific FRACAS capabilities for recording, analysis, tracking and reporting.

One such offering is ReliaSofts’ XFRACAS. This is a web-based solution, allowing users to access your FRACAS system via a website. This greatly simplifies scalability (no client installation required), whilst simultaneously giving you total control over user permissions and access. This is because the website and database are installed on your own centralized servers.

Below is an illustration of how XFRACAS works, with our multiple user devices on the left, and our IT infrastructure on the right.

Once the data has been stored correctly, you not only have immediate reporting and basic analysis capabilities, but you open to door to advanced reliability analysis such as Life Data Analysis, Reliability Growth Analysis and RAM Simulations, allowing you to quantify reliability. We will look into this in more detail in a separate article.


In this article we first introduced the concept of staying competitive by collecting, storing and leveraging your data. We then went on to explain that a FRACAS/DRACAS is one common approach in Reliability Engineering to achieving this. Finally, we described the two components that make up this system; the process and the IT platform to run it on.

In the next article we will look in more detail how a FRACAS/DRACAS helps you collect, store and leverage your data. We will also look at some of the major roadblocks that exist when implementing a FRACAS/DRACAS.



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