Feasibility Study on the Fault Tree Analysis Approach for the Management of the Faults in Running PCR Analysis

PCR 과정의 오류 관리를 위한 Fault Tree Analysis 적용에 관한 시범적 연구

  • Lim, Ji-Su (Department of Food Science and Technology, Dongguk University) ;
  • Park, Ae-Ri (Department of Food Science and Technology, Dongguk University) ;
  • Lee, Seung-Ju (Department of Food Science and Technology, Dongguk University) ;
  • Hong, Kwang-Won (Department of Food Science and Technology, Dongguk University)
  • Published : 2007.12.31


FTA (fault tree analysis), an analytical method for system failure management, was employed in the management of faults in running PCR analysis. PCR is executed through several processes, in which the process of PCR machine operation was selected for the analysis by FTA. The reason for choosing the simplest process in the PCR analysis was to adopt it as a first trial to test a feasibility of the FTA approach. First, fault events-top event, intermediate event, basic events-were identified by survey on expert knowledge of PCR. Then those events were correlated deductively to build a fault tree in hierarchical structure. The fault tree was evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively, yielding minimal cut sets, structural importance, common cause vulnerability, simulation of probability of occurrence of top event, cut set importance, item importance and sensitivity. The top event was 'errors in the step of PCR machine operation in running PCR analysis'. The major intermediate events were 'failures in instrument' and 'errors in actions in experiment'. The basic events were four events, one event and one event based on human errors, instrument failure and energy source failure, respectively. Those events were combined with Boolean logic gates-AND or OR, constructing a fault tree. In the qualitative evaluation of the tree, the basic events-'errors in preparing the reaction mixture', 'errors in setting temperature and time of PCR machine', 'failure of electrical power during running PCR machine', 'errors in selecting adequate PCR machine'-proved the most critical in the occurrence of the fault of the top event. In the quantitative evaluation, the list of the critical events were not the same as that from the qualitative evaluation. It was because the probability value of PCR machine failure, not on the list above though, increased with used time, and the probability of the events of electricity failure and defective of PCR machine were given zero due to rare likelihood of the events in general. It was concluded that this feasibility study is worth being a means to introduce the novel technique, FTA, to the management of faults in running PCR analysis.


  1. Hong, K. W. (2006) Rapid detection method for foodborne pathogens-PCR. Safe Food. 1, 16-23
  2. Schneegass, I. and Kohler, J. M. (2001) Flow-through polymerase chain reactions in chip thermocyclers. Molecular Biotech. 82, 101-121 https://doi.org/10.1016/S1389-0352(01)00033-2
  3. White, B. A. (1993) In PCR protocols: Current methods and applications. Humana press inc., New Jersey
  4. Lee, K. H., and Lee, D. H. (1990) An approximate approach for computing fault-tree probabilities. J. KSQC. 18, 25-32
  5. Lee, W. S., Grosh, D. L., Tillman F. A. and Lie, C. H. (1985) Fault tree analysis, methods, and applications-a review. IEEE Trans. Reliability. 34, 194-203 https://doi.org/10.1109/TR.1985.5222114
  6. James, J. J., Reynaldo, F. Jr. and Reva, R. (2001) Fault tree analysis for exposure to refrigerants used for automotive air conditioning in the united states. Risk Analysis. 21, 157-170 https://doi.org/10.1111/0272-4332.211098
  7. Bertolinia, M., Rizzia, A. and Bevilacqua, M. (2007) An alternative approach to HACCP system implementation. J. Food Engineering. 79, 1322-1328 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfoodeng.2006.04.038
  8. Kaiser, B., Gramlich, C. and Foster, M. (2007) State/event fault trees-A safety analysis model for software-controlled system. Reliability Engineering & System Safety. 92, 1521-1537 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ress.2006.10.010
  9. Jung, W. D. and Hwang, M., J. (1997) Safety and reliability assessment for nuclear power plants. J. Korea Safety. 12, 143-152
  10. Vesely, W. E. and Goldberg, F. F. (1981) In Fault tree handbook. U.S. Nuclear regulatory commission
  11. Ortmeier, F. and Schellhorn, G. (2007) Formal fault tree analysis-practical experiences. Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science. 185, 139-151 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.entcs.2007.05.034
  12. John, R., Yan, Li and Landers, T. L. (1996) A modified bathtub curve with latent failures. Microelectronics and Reliability. 36, 217-220
  13. Huang, C., Y. and Chang, Y., R. (2007) An improved decomposition scheme for assessing the reliability of embedded systems by using dynamic fault trees. Reliability Engineering & System Safety. 92, 1403-1412 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ress.2006.09.008
  14. Serra, J.,A., Domenech, E., Escriche, I. and Martorell, S. (1999) Risk assessment and critical control points from the production perspective. Inter. J. Food Microbiology. 46, 9-26 https://doi.org/10.1016/S0168-1605(98)00168-8