FMEA and FMECA: Failure Mode, Effects (and Criticality) Analysis

Understanding failure modes and building a living FMEA program to optimise your maintenance strategies and prevent failures from occurring with assurance.  

What are Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) & Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis (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 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 FMEAs?

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. 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. And 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 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, in the blog post “4 Essential Factors You Must Consider for a Successful FMEA”, we mentioned that the FMEA project will not succeed if:

  • 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. 

What can HolisticAM help with your organisation’s FMEA projects? 

Specialist FMEA / RCM Reliability Capability  

HolisticAM is structured to accommodate all requests of any size or complexity. Our specialists offer a powerful combination of industry expertise, subject matter mastery and dedication to delivering excellence for your FMEA projects.

Make your FMEA projects agile 

HolisticAM has extensive experience in conducting both FMEA and FMECA methodologies. We have an extensive FMEA Enterprise Library that lists thousands of components with known functions and failure modes. This enables us to offer a streamlined process for Asset FMEA application, which allows for rapid implementation of your projects.  

Provide fit-for-purpose solutions to suit your unique needs

We understand that all sites have variation in operating conditions and requirements, so we don’t apply a one-size-fits-all approach to building your maintenance strategies. We use our component FMEA library to build the base case and then apply your sites unique situation to determine risk profile, frequency, trade requirements etc. 

Offer ReliaSoft software for simplicity, speed and replication

As the exclusive representative in Australia and New Zealand of ReliaSoft Software, we offer good relational database software, such as XFMEA, to optimise your FMEA projects.

With the help of a software tool, you can establish consistency among your organization’s FMEAs, build a “knowledge base” of lessons learned from past FMEAs, generate other types of reports for FMEA data (e.g. Top 10 Failure Modes by RPN, Actions by Due Date, etc.) and/or track the progress and completion of recommended actions. 

Prepare you for your future FMEA projects 

We do not just focus on meeting your present needs for your FMEA workshops but provide support to get you ready for your future projects. We have experienced workshop facilitators to lead and enable the full potential in the team. Also, we offer FMEA training to foster your FMEA team competencies. 

Time to unlock the full potential of your FMEAs!

If you would like to discuss your FMEA projects or needs, don’t wait! Book an FMEA phone call with our FMEA specialist!

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 software 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.


Build your living library of FMEAs

XFMEA provides for the ability to centralise your FMEAs in one location and maintain connections or relationships between analyses. It helps you to easily find, filter, re-use, and manage your living library of FMEAs. As a result, you can streamline the process in developing asset management strategies.

Integrate with other ReliaSoft synthesis applications

XFMEA is part of the ReliaSoft Synthesis platform. The centralized FMEA library is accessible with any of ReliaSoft’s other Synthesis-enabled applications: Weibull++ for life data analysis, ALTA for accelerated life testing data analysis or BlockSim for system analysis.


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

How much time does it take to conduct an FMEA?

The time it takes to conduct an FMEA 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) customized 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?

An FMEA 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?

FMEA 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.