FMEA / FMECA: The Definitive Guide (2020)

Mar 19, 2020


This is the definitive guide to FMEA / FMECA in 2020. 

In this comprehensive guide we’ll cover:

  1. FMEA / FMEA Definition
  2. The value of FMEA / FMECA at the operational / maintenance stage
  3. When to perform FMEA / FMECA
  4. How to Perform an FMEA / FMECA Process
  5. Factors that determine a successful FMEA / FMECA outcome
  6. FMEA Software
  7. More and more……

So if you want to refresh your FMEA knowledge, this article will be a useful resource for your FMEA learning and workshops.

Ready? Let’s dive in and make your FMEA projects SMARTER, FASTER, BETTER👍!

FREE eBook Download: FMEA / FMECA Guideline


What is FMEA / FMECA

The Value of FMEA / FMECA

When to Perform

How to Perform

Success Factors

FMEA Software

What is FMEA / FMECA? 

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a reliability engineering methodology that has been widely applied in many organisations across various industries. It systematically identifies and analyses the possible failure modes of each equipment and component, ranking and prioritising each failure based on its impact and its probability of occurrence.

Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) takes the FMEA process one step further. It looks at the likelihood and criticality of each failure mode, allowing for a more accurate and robust analysis.


Why Performs FMEAs at the Operation and Maintenance Stage? 

Many of us have simply inherited the asset and maintenance strategies we have. And we have inherited all the defects and reliability problems with it. FMEA / FMECA is not just useful within the design phase of the equipment or process, it also guides the maintenance and reliability team’s most effective efforts.

Benefits of implementing FMEAs at the operation/maintenance stage:

1) Determine the optimum value-added maintenance tasks

Using FMEAs on installed equipment that is already operational can pre-empt or proactively mitigate the failures. By identifying the potential and actual failure modes of the assets, we can then understand the risks and impact associated with the failures.

FMEA is the backbone in developing maintenance strategies, such as Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM), Predictive Maintenance and a carefully planned Preventive Maintenance Plan. By understanding all the failure modes, we can ultimately determine the optimum maintenance strategies or actions to prevent these failures from occurring with a high level of assurance.

2) Improve the long-term reliability and the cost of ownership

FMEA is not a one-off method, it should be maintained throughout the life cycle of the asset. The primary purpose of an equipment maintenance plan is to minimise the impact of unplanned events on safety, asset productivity and the environment. Through a living FMEA program, organisations can reach maintenance plan goals, enhance continuous improvement, reduce the asset life cycle cost and eventually improve and sustain the long-term reliability of the asset.


When to Perform FMEA / FMECA?

Do any of the following statements resonate within your organisation?

  • “We have a concerning number of underperforming assets” 
  • We are undergoing a significant change in the operating context or asset component configuration”  
  • “We need to refine our maintenance plans”  
  • “We need to improve our asset performance, but our budget and schedule is tight” 

If any of these statements sound familiar your business could benefit from conducting an FMEA / FMECA. We can assist you in revitalising your organisation’s approach to understanding the performance of your assets that are causing you to feel the pain.

How to Perform an FMEA Process?

There are 13 steps that you can take to implement an FMEA process. In the blog “The Quick Guide to Perform an FMEA Process“, we created a one-page infographic to show the entire process, which you can utilise for your next FMEA workshop.

Generally, an FMEA process has 3 stages:

Preparation Stage

The FMEA / FMECA team should determine:

  • who should be involved,
  • what resources are available to you, and
  • what the FMEA/FMECA scope is.

Diagnosis and Analysis Stage

The team needs to identify and fully understand:

  • the potential failure modes and their causes,
  • the failure mode cause frequency,
  • how the failure mode cause can be detected, as well as
  • the effects of failure on the asset, process or product.

Subsequently, the team will set priorities for corrective actions based on FMEA RPN.

Action and Maintenance Stage

The team performs corrective actions and most importantly, they should document FMEA / FMECA data in a living library that is maintained throughout the asset life cycle.

Quick links: Click Here to get a simplified FMEA template. 

What factors can determine a successful FMEA / FMECA outcome?

Though FMEA is gaining widespread acceptance and recognition because of its inherent benefits, not every organisation gets uniformly great results. A successful application of FMEA can be determined by many external and internal factors.

For example, the FMEA project will not succeed if the organisation neglects these 4 essential factors:

  • the team lacks a sound knowledge of FMEA fundamentals,
  • the team fails to make proper preparation for the FMEA procedure,
  • the team does not understand and avoid some common mistakes, and/or
  • there is no skilled FMEA facilitator to guide and support the team.

Among these 4 factors, the FMEA facilitator is significantly crucial to determine a successful outcome. In order to deliver true valueadded to the FMEA process, the facilitator must be trained and experienced in the fundamentals of FMEAs and the skills of facilitation. 

FMEA Software

Conducting FMEAs does not really need special software, you can simply use a paper form or an Excel spreadsheet to record your data. However, when a good software tool is used, the FMEA team can build powerful FMEA libraries which helps to reach their maximum performance level.

In HolisticAM, we use ReliaSoft XFMEA to facilitate FMEA team workshops/meetings and data management. This tool is praised for its ease of use while offering highly configurable analysis and reporting capabilities.

XFMEA establishes consistency throughout your organisation’s FMEA process and makes it easy for multiple users to cooperate on the analyses.


Based on our past experience, these are questions the clients frequently asked about FMEA / FMECA.

How much time does it take to conduct an FMEA / FMECA?

The time it takes to conduct an FMEA /FMECA study depends on the scope of the study and the level of preparation done. With a well-defined and “reasonable” scope coupled with a comprehensive set of (organization-specific) customised ranking scales, a team can complete an FMEA study (up to the point of identifying action plans to be developed) in hours. Conversely, if the scope is “too” broad and if custom ranking scales have not been developed, the study may take several. 

It is worth noting that we need to consider FMEA as a living program and sustain it throughout the life cycle of the asset. By continuously adding the newly identified failure modes to the FMEA library, we can extract the maximum value from an FMEA study. 

Who performs an FMEA / FMECA?

An FMEA / FMECA should be performed by a team, NOT one individual. The team should include representatives of all the functions impacting the product, asset or the process under study.

The best size for an FMEA team is 4 to 6 people. It’s difficult to successfully conduct an FMEA study with less than 2-3 people and more than 6 might stall the process.

Additionally, a trained and experienced FMEA facilitator is needed to lead the FMEA team to success. 

What are the limitations of an FMEA / FMECA?

FMEA / FMECA  is a value-adding activity, which may take some time to drill down into the details of a product design or process. The outcome of an FMEA can only be as “good as the team”. If the team does not fully understand potential failures that may occur or corresponding effects of potential failures, related risks will not be recognized. 

Thus, to make FMEAs more effective and fruitful, organisations should make comprehensive preparations before starting an FMEA study.  

How Can HolisticAM Help

why choose our FMEA / FMECA service

HolisticAM has extensive experience in conducting both FMEA / FMECA methodologies. 

If you would like to discuss your FMEA projects or needs, our Asset Management and Reliability Specialists at HolisticAM are here to help!