FMEAs: Your View Into the Future
If there was a crystal ball that could tell you about future problems with your products and processes, what would you be willing to pay for it?
FMEAs or Failure Mode and Effects Analysis help identify potential problems with products and processes so that you can address the issues before they happen; think of an FMEA as your crystal ball.
The highly structured steps to conducting an FMEA makes them far more effective than a simple brainstorming session on things that can go wrong. FMEA team members are forced to examine every aspect of the process or product and that can lead to some surprising discoveries. We have broken the FMEA process into 10 basic steps although they vary slightly if you are doing a Design FMEA or a Process FMEA.
Prioritize and Reduce Risks
The payout of the structured FMEA process is the RPN or Risk Priority Number. Risk is a function of the severity of a failure, the likelihood the failure will occur and the chance the failure will be detected before it occurs.
A well-conducted FMEA will identify many different ways a product or process can fail and the RPN will help determine which potential failures must (or should) be addressed and which might represent an acceptable risk.
Plan Ahead for GREAT FMEAs
FMEAs can take on a life of their own, but with good planning and preparation, they will stay focused and on task. Up front, it is important to have a well-defined scope for the FMEA. This will serve as a guide for the team to prevent scope creep. In our FMEA Resource Center we have several worksheets that will help throughout the FMEA process including a DFMEA and PFMEA Scope Worksheet.
Once the scope of the FMEA is defined it will be easy to determine who should be on the team or if the team has already been formed, if any needed members are missing. FMEAs are most productive when all team members understand the FMEA process and speak the FMEA language so it is important everyone has been trained in how to conduct FMEAs.
FMEA team members need to understand the process components and design features in order to identify potential failures. Gather necessary documents, samples and data ahead of time so they are easily accessible to the team during their meetings. Our FMEA Preparedness Worksheet will help assure you are ready for your first FMEA team meeting.
Learn more about the basics of FMEAs
FMEA Preparedness Worksheet
10 Steps to Conduct Design FMEAs
10 Steps to Conducting Process FMEAs