FMEA Blog

4 Essential Factors You Must Consider for a Successful FMEA

In our last blog post, we created a one-page infographic to show an FMEA process (click to download). After understanding/ refreshing how to perform an FMEA, the next question is: what can be done to help achieve more uniformly successful results? In other words, what are the essential factors in a successful application of FMEA in any organisation, and how can these bests be achieved?

In this article, we will discuss 4 essential factors that deliver the success:

  1. A sound knowledge of the basics of FMEA
  2. Proper preparations for the FMEA procedure.
  3. Avoid common mistakes
  4. A skilled FMEA facilitator

What is Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)?  

An FMEA is a process to discover the primary ways a product, asset or process can fail so that the organisation can take positive action to prevent the failures before they occur. It requires the FMEA team to identify and fully understand the potential failure modes and their causes, as well as the effects of failure on the asset, process or product.  

In summary, FMEA is an engineering analysis done by a cross-functional team of subject matter experts. 

Four Essential Factors for a Successful FMEA  

Factor 1: a sound knowledge of the basics of FMEA  

There is no substitute for learning these fundamentals [of FMEA]. – Carl S. Carlson 

Note: Mr. Carlson is a consultant and instructor in the areas of FMEA, reliability program planning and other reliability engineering and management disciplines.  

To conduct an FMEA successfully, the first prerequisite factor is a sound knowledge of the basics of FMEA. 

The facilitator must have a comprehensive understanding of the fundamentals and procedures of FMEA, and the assembled team must have a detailed understanding of the elements in order to properly perform the analysis.  

Factor 2: proper preparations for the FMEA procedure 

In addition to fully understanding FMEA fundamentals, the successful FMEA procedure requires proper preparations. Generally, it includes: 

(1) Determine the scope

The scope of an FMEA program means the boundaries that establish the issues.  

Consider what are the major elements (e.g., subsystems or components) the team will analyse? What are the interfaces between lower level subsystems or components, interfaces with the environment and/or humans, and other elements 

FMEA is a time-consuming process. A clearly defined scope that is recognised by every team member will prevent the FMEA project from suffering the effects of “scope creep”.  

(2) Visual Drawings 

Visualising the scope ensures that the FMEA team agrees on the precise extent of the FMEA, and every element and interface of the issue is under consideration.  

Depending on the types of FMEA, there are 4 commonly used diagrams: FMEA Block Diagram, FMEA Interface Matrix, Parameter Diagram, and Process Flow Diagram. 

(3) Assemble the right team 

To have an FMEA success, people are the key. Research shows that some FMEA teams fail because of inadequate team composition.  

The FMEA facilitator needs to consider: what kinds of experts should be on the team? What is the best team size? and if these subject matter experts can ensure attendance? 

(4) Establish ground rules & assumptions 

Before starting an FMEA, the team should agree on the documented ground rules and assumptions about the project.  

  • Ground rules ensure the team has an effective manner to conduct the FMEA process (e.g., meeting norms).  
  • Assumptions is the basis of an FMEA that will affect throughout the analysis. Different types of FMEA will need different assumptions. 

(5) Gather Information 

Adequate information and document preparation will save every subject matter expert’s time. Information includes bill of materials, legal and regulatory, past FMEAs, field history, technical requirements, and specification, etc.

Factor 3: avoid common mistakes

Understanding FMEA fundamentals and procedures is not enough by itself to have a successful FMEA outcome, performing a successful FMEA requires the team to understand and avoid common mistakes.  

Factor 4a skilled FMEA facilitator 

While having the right experts on an FMEA team is critical to the success of an FMEA processproper facilitation is also crucial

An FMEA facilitator provides structure to all interactions, allowing the FMEA team to function effectively and make high quality decisions. They are a helper and an enabler whose goal is to support the team so collectively they can perform with excellence.  

Summary 

There are many other factors (can be external or internal) that could influence the success in the application of FMEA. By considering these 4 essential factors before performing an FMEA, the time and effort spent in your organisation’s FMEA projects will be a more fruitful investment. 

FMEA Related Resources:

Blog:

FMEA SoftwareReliaSoft XFMEA software – facilitate your FMEA team’s work

FMEA Case StudyOptimising Fixed Plant Maintenance Strategy for a Mining Company

Document: A simplified FMEA template

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