FMEA: Adding Value to Maintenance Plan Optimisation

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is not a new tool in engineering analysis. Commonly applied within the design phase of the equipment or process, FMEA also has a fundamental function in maintenance plan optimisation. It helps to identify and prioritise the failure modes with the biggest impact, so that the organisation can create more value in maintenance management. 

What is Maintenance Plan Optimisation?

Maintenance Plan Optimisation is “a process to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the maintenance process” and ensuring the maintenance being conducted is value adding.

There is a difference between maintenance effectiveness and efficiency: “Effective maintenance addresses and reduces the consequences of specific, probable failure modes. Efficient maintenance is value-added tasks conducted using the least labour, downtime, and materials required to complete the task.”

By looking at this definition, we can get a clearer picture of the purpose of maintenance plan optimisation, it is to ensure that maintenance is adding value to the overall life of an asset or the system. It involves looking at each maintenance task and determining:

  • Whether optimising this maintenance task is really needed (i.e., whether the process is value-added), and
  • Whether it will have the effect on the overall performance that it is intended to have.

What is FMEA and its Function? 

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is not a new process. It is a qualitative reliability engineering method that can be applied to prioritise and avoid failures triggered in various asset life cycle phases such as design, manufacturing, installation, and operation. The best practice is to carry out specific FMEA for each asset life cycle such as DFMEA, PFMEA and SFMEA (Design / Process / System FMEA).

The image below shows steps in the entire process (you can also check out our one-page FMEA Process infographic):

It helps your organisation:  

  • Systematically analyse the possible failure mode of each equipment and component, 
  • Identify the possible failure cause and the failure mode frequency,  
  • Inspect how easily the possible failures can be detected, as well as  
  • Expect the resulting consequences of the failure mode effect on quality, safety, health and environment and asset performance.  

FMEA has been widely adopted in many ways for various purposes. By understanding the modes of failure and the effects that have on an asset or the system, it can contribute to improved designs for products and processes, resulting in higher reliability, better quality, increased safety, enhanced customer satisfaction, and reduced costs.  

What Role does FMEA Play in Maintenance Plan Optimisation?

So what benefits can FMEA bring to maintenance plan optimisation? When the organisations decide to optimise their maintenance plan, one question they need to solve is how can the organisation begin to determine which maintenance tasks are adding value? The answer lies in FMEA process. 

FMEA process and its tool plays an important role in developing and optimising maintenance strategy for assets. It’s the backbone of many maintenance strategies: Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM), Predictive Maintenance and a carefully planned Preventive Maintenance Strategy.

Incorporating FMEA in maintenance plan optimisation can help organisations identify and prioritise the failure modes with the biggest impact. It saves time and costs while adding more value.

To Sum It Up…

Considering an FMEA as one of the first steps in the maintenance optimisation should become common practice, which helps your organisation get true value out of the maintenance management.

Related Resources:


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

Case StudyOptimising Fixed Plant Maintenance Strategy for a Mining Company

Document: A simplified FMEA template

Subscribe to our bimonthly newsletter to stay up-to-date! If you need any advice/ training on FMEA, our team at HolisticAM are here to help!

👉 Learn more about FMEA

👉 Learn more about maintenance optimisation