Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

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Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a tool to identify potential failures in products, processes, or equipment and determine the effects of those failures. The purpose of FMEA is to prevent or reduce the risks associated with failure. By using FMEA, businesses can ensure that their products and processes are as reliable as possible and minimize the chances of costly mistakes. FMEA is a valuable tool for any business looking to improve product reliability and safety.

What is Failure Mode and Effects Analysis?

FMEA is a procedure where you determine and record all potential equipment faults to forecast how they would affect overall output. It builds a maintenance action plan from the ground up by identifying the parts that are most prone to failure. Effective preventive maintenance and predictive maintenance plans depend heavily on FMEA.

An FMEA looks for any materials, manufacturing, or systems that deviate from best practices while examining the possible effects of unanticipated failures on the remainder of the facility. In this manner, as businesses map out failure modes through their detrimental repercussions, the root cause will be simpler to discover.

The Different Types of Failure Mode and Effects Analysis

There are different types of failure mode and effects analysis, but they all share the same goal: to identify potential equipment failures and their effects. These are the most common types of FMEA:

  • Process FMEA focuses on the manufacturing process and identifies potential failure modes that could occur during production.
  • Design FMEA focuses on the equipment design and identifies potential failure modes that could occur due to design flaws.
  • Functional FMEA focuses on the equipment operation and identifies potential failure modes that could occur due to incorrect use or maintenance.

Each type of FMEA has its benefits and drawbacks, but all three can be useful tools for equipment designers and operators.

FMEA vs. FMECA: What is the Difference?

FMECA stands for failure mode, effects, and criticality analysis. FMEA and FMECA are both risk analysis tools that you can use to identify potential failure points in an asset before it is put into service. However, both methods have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choice of which tool to use depends on the specific needs of the asset you are analyzing. FMEA is typically used during the design phase of a project, while it is more common to use FMECA during the operational phase.

FMECA is a top-down (functional) or bottom-up (hardware) method of risk assessment. It links the following components of a failure chain: Effect of Failure, Failure Mode, and Causes/Mechanisms. This approach is inductive, or data-driven. When performing FMECA, you rank different assets by their risk profile according to a failure mechanism, effects, and criticality analysis. This allows you to form a failure chain using the elements of your FMECA model through the mechanism or root cause. Maintenance reliability, which identifies the cause of an occurrence and assigns these modes to various probabilities, is also at the center of asset criticality.

Why is Failure Mode and Effects Analysis Important?

Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) includes a vital step in creating FMEAs. Failure mode and effects analysis can assist you in identifying, avoiding, or reducing any risks connected to the discovered failure, serving as a systematic means of enhancing quality goals and process dependability. The ideal approach is to prepare for breakdowns in advance of them happening.

An FMEA aims to accomplish three primary things:

  1. Use planned maintenance and standard operating procedures to lower the probability of common and critical failures to avoid future breakdowns.
  2. When an asset fails, shorten response times, minimize downtime, and enhance health and safety.
  3. When there is no emergency, give preventive and corrective maintenance priority.

How to Perform Your Own Failure Mode and Effects Analysis

1. Identify asset components.

Keep records of all asset parts that might fail or deteriorate. A bottling line, for instance, might have gearboxes, motors, sprockets, bearings, and nozzles. Work down from the most important equipment you have first. If you don’t already have them, this is an excellent moment to establish asset hierarchies and explicit naming rules.

2. Determine possible failure modes.

It’s time to determine the probable failure mechanisms of those components. If a single component has more than one failure mode, such as contamination, corrosion, or misalignment, list them all.

3. A list of possible negative effects.

Describe the outcome of a failure and how it affects productivity and worker safety. List likely failure outcomes. For instance, a misplaced bearing might cause a line to shut down for three hours or more while you lose 1,800 units.

4. Severity rating.

It assesses how it will affect both production and safety. It is rated from 1 to 10, with 1 denoting a low effect occurrence and 10 denoting a high impact one. When a tire blows out on a car, for instance, it may cause minor steering problems at moderate speeds, but a rupture at high speeds is much riskier.

5. Cite potential causes.

Include any explanations as to why a failure might have happened. For instance, a rusted bearing could occur as a result of insufficient lubrication, mislabeled materials, or unclear instructions.

6. Calculate the predicted frequency.

This gauges how frequent a failure mode is. You grade predicted frequency on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 denoting an uncommon occurrence and 10 denoting one that happens frequently.

7. List the current process controls.

Make a record of all the safeguards put in place to stop or catch a failure. Weekly preventive maintenance checks, parts replacements every month, and the use of sensors to identify dangerously high vibration levels are a few examples of process controls.

8. Detection score.

This value indicates how simple it is to identify a problem before it results in complete failure. It is rated from 1 to 10 on a scale, for instance, a cracked windshield would receive a 9 because it’s challenging to predict as it is frequently brought on by unforeseen circumstances.

9. Risk priority number (RPN).

Determines the failure types with the greatest impact and the greatest ability to be avoided. Multiply the severity, frequency, and detection scores to obtain the RPN.

10. Determine recommended action.

Establish a plan for reducing the likelihood of failure or increasing the chances of early detection. This can include increasing the frequency of preventive maintenance on a component or investing in condition-monitoring equipment.

The Bottom Line on Failure Mode and Effects Analysis

Failure mode and effects analyses are not a quick remedy or a tool for troubleshooting. It is an ongoing process to minimize the effects of failure when you cannot avoid it. FMEA serves as a planning tool as well as a defense against the danger of safety and monetary loss. Although it takes a lot of work to create FMEAs, they will pay for themselves in the long run by making it easier to plan, avoid reactive maintenance, and monitor team progress.

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