4 Essential Factors You Must Consider for a Successful FMEA
In our last blog post, we discussed how to perform an FMEA. After understanding/ refreshing the process, the next question is: what can be done to help achieve more uniformly successful results? In other words, to have a successful FMEA, what are the essential factors that will make the time and effort invested in the project more fruitful?
In this article, we will discuss 4 essential factors that deliver the success:
- A sound knowledge of the basics of FMEA
- Proper preparations for the FMEA procedure.
- Avoid common mistakes
- 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 a successful FMEA, 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 a successful FMEA project, 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, which also lays the foundation for a successful FMEA. 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 an FMEA project successfully requires the team to understand and avoid common mistakes.
Factor 4: a skilled FMEA facilitator
While having the right experts on an FMEA team is critical to determine the success of an FMEA process, proper 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.
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 / FMECA: The Definitive Guide (2020)
- FMEA: Adding Value to Maintenance Plan Optimisation
- The Quick Guide to Perform an FMEA Process [one-page infographic]
- FMEA Facilitator: The Secret Sauce of an FMEA Workshop
FMEA Software: ReliaSoft XFMEA – facilitate your FMEA team’s work
FMEA Case Study: Optimising Fixed Plant Maintenance Strategy for a Mining Company
Document: A simplified FMEA template