Given the voluntary nature of ruggedness testing, how should it be conducted, and how relevant are the results of that testing?
For the most parts, testing is performed as described in the United States Department of Defense’s “Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests,” commonly known as MIL-STD-810G. In some areas, testing is done in accordance with a variety of different standards, such as IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), ANSI/ISA and others. By far the most often mentioned is the MIL-STD-810G.
So what, exactly, is the MIL-STD-810G? As far as its scope and purpose go, the document says, “This standard contains materiel acquisition program planning and engineering direction for considering the influences that environmental stresses have on materiel throughout all phases of its service life.” Minimizing the impact of environmental stresses, of course, is the very purpose of rugged design, so using the MIL-STD-810G as a guide to accomplish and test that makes sense.
How does the MIL-STD-810G go about its mission? In the document’s foreword, it says that the emphasis is on “tailoring a materiel item’s environmental design and test limits to the conditions that the specific materiel will experience throughout its service life, and establishing laboratory test methods that replicate the effects of environments on materiel, rather than trying to reproduce the environments themselves.”