Failure Mode Effect Analysis FMEA

What Is Failure Mode Effect Analysis?

The use of Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) techniques helps to drive improvement in manufacturing and supply chain and the methodology is now also used in risk management and service industries as a structured method of identifying failures in a process and quantifying the effect of these on the overall success of the operation.

  • Failure Modes is the ways in which something could fail such as errors or defects in a process or product. These errors can be potential or actual.
  • Effects Analysis is the process of studying the consequences of the discovered failures.

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What Is the Purpose of the Failure Mode Effective Analysis?

Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is one element of the Six Sigma Lean Methodology.

The Six Sigma route to quality control emerged in the 1980s as Motorola searched for a robust quantitative approach that would drive high variability out of their manufacturing processes and thus improve the reliability of their products. The term Six Sigma refers to a methodology and a culture of continuous quality improvement.

The Six Sigma goal is to squeeze out process variability until the process produces just 3.4 defects per million activities. This reduces waste and hence saves money whilst improving customer satisfaction.

What Are the Principles of Failure Mode Effect Analysis?

The FMEA process is conducted in a step by step fashion because each step builds on the previous one as you work through the analysis process. FMEA is done in seven stages, each one carefully designed to make the analysis quick and effective:

  1. Assemble FMEA team and review the process in question for potential failures
  2. Determine the severity ranking of each failure
  3. Determine the occurrence ranking of each failure
  4. Determine the detection ranking of each failure
  5. Assign a Risk Priority Number (RPN) and prioritise for action
  6. Take action and review the process
  7. Re-rank the RPN

Each element of the process is reviewed and any potential problem area or weak links prone to failure are identified and described. These areas are then rated according to three criteria on a 1 – 10 scale.

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