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The first step in a reliability optimization process is to make a reliability assessment for each component in the system. If this assessment is made in a qualitative way, by grouping together components with the same reliability, and establishing a prevalence order among groups, is there a way to decide which components have the greatest Birnbaum measure without computing the exact value of this measure? In this paper, three relations between components are introduced and studied, and it is proved that they are useful for selecting the components that have the biggest effect on the system reliability in the sense of Birnbaum. An algorithm that uses the results in the paper to select these important components is also provided.