Many repairable systems degrade with time and are subjected to time-varying loads. Their characteristics may change over time considerably, making the assessment of their performance and hence their design difficult. To address this issue, we introduce in this paper the concept of flexible design of repairable systems under time-dependent reliability considerations. In flexible design, the system can be modified in the future to accommodate uncertain events. As a result, regardless of how uncertainty resolves itself, a modification is available that will keep the system close to optimal provided failure events have been properly characterized. We discuss how flexible design of repairable systems requires a fundamentally new approach and demonstrate its advantages using the design of a hydrokinetic turbine. Our results show that long-term metrics are improved when time-dependent characteristics and flexibility are considered together.

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