Explained: FMEA

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What is FMEA?

FMEA or Failure Mode and Effect Analysis is a tool for identifying potential problems, their impact and preventing them from occurring.

Why I should use FMEA

  • FMEA is used to help anticipate what could go wrong with a product or process and the effects of those failures
  • FMEA helps to identify the possible causes of failures and the likelihood of failures being detected before they occur
  • FMEA is a good way to analyse potential reliability problems early in the development cycle, making it possible to take quick action and mitigate failure. This also enables failures to be designed out and reliable, safe and customer pleasing features to be designed in
  • FMEA has the potential to reduce service failures, warranty costs, safety failures, product liability claims and reduces the need to conduct tests of expensive prototypes

When to use FMEA

FMEA can be used at any stage from design and manufacturing to testing and installation.

How to complete FMEA

  1. The people with the right experience with the product or process under examination should be involved to find potential failure modes. These should include the designers and engineers if possible. Customers and suppliers could be considered for alternative viewpoints
  2. Brainstorm – all the components, functions, processes and systems that could possibly fail to meet the required quality level must be identified. The effects and possible causes must also be identified and explained. All the information should be put into a spreadsheet along with details about the product or process under examination, the date of the FMEA meeting and those who are in attendance
  3. An FMEA uses three criteria to assess a failure, the team will need to assess the failure modes on a scale of 1-10 (1=Low, 10=High) for each of them:
    • The probability of each failure occurring – rank the probability of a failure occurring during the expected lifetime of the product or service (1 – Not likely to occur, 10 – Inevitable)
      • The seriousness of the effect of the failure – this encompasses what is important to the industry, company or customer including safety standards, legal, production continuity, loss of business and damaged reputation (1 – Low impact, 10 – High impact)
      • How easily the failure can be detected – the difficulty of the failure being detected before the product or system is used (1 – Very likely to be detected, 10 – Not likely to be detected)
  4. Calculate the criticality index, this indicates the relative priority of each failure mode: C = P x S x D
  5. The team should now adjust the FMEA spreadsheet to list failures in descending criticality order. This highlights the areas where corrective actions should be focused.
  6. Once the priorities have been agreed, recommended corrective actions for reducing the probability of each failure mode occurring or improving the detection of them should be determined. Responsibility for the corrective actions and target completion dates should be set.
  7. Once corrective actions have been completed, the team should meet again to reassess each failure mode to see if they have reduced the risk, if not, alternative corrective actions may be required.

We hope this has helped explain FMEA in simple terms for you, if you are looking for a deeper explanation, please feel free to contact us for more assistance!

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