FMEA – Failure Mode and Effects Analysis

Definition of Failure Mode and Effects Analysis

Failure Mode

The manner in which the product/part or service does not meet the customer’s expectations

Effects Analysis

A study of the effects of failure on the function or purpose of the product/part or service The customer could be external to the company, or internal (within the company). It is considered a reliability planning tool, but it has also become a method for prioritizing alternative actions (that do not deal with failure modes), e.g., in the Six Sigma process.

FMEA is a systematized group of activities intended to:

  • Recognize and evaluate the potential failure modes and causes associated with the designing and manufacturing of a product
  • Identify actions which could eliminate or reduce the chance of the potential failure occurring
  • Document the above process.

It increases the likelihood that potential failures, and their effects and causes, will be considered prior to the final design and/or release to production. The key to the actions in this Reliability Analysis method is to plan preventive actions. A completed FMEA, which should be applied in an iterative process, contains a great deal of information about the product or process. It can be used as the starting point for later control plans, trouble-shooting guides, preventive maintenance plans, etc.

Key Things To Keep In Mind

“One of  the most important factors for the successful implementation of an FMEA program is timeliness…  Up front time spent properly completing an FMEA well, when product/process changes can be most easily and inexpensively implemented, will minimize late change crises.” AIAG FMEA Instruction Manual (3rd Edition)When going through the FMEA process, it is also important to remember to base your decisions on data, not on hunches! It should occur very early in the planning cycle.  FMEA teams will find themselves spending more time than usual early on, which will lead to leveraged savings later on. The use of data to verify the relationships between root causes and effects, to establish accurate rating criteria, and to determine effective preventive actions is one of the critical-to-success factors in the FMEA process.

Costs vs. Benefits

Lots of Tedious Work →  Increased success of implementation, & knowledge well captured by the cross-functional team.
Do not expect the up-front investigation and analysis to be quick or easy, but the extra initial work will typically provide an excellent payback.

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