Quick Guide to Failure Mode and Effects Analysis


Customers place a lot of faith in companies that their delivery of a product is virtually problem-free. However, sometimes adversity arises and quality and reliability suffer. In an article for iSixSigma, George Forrest elaborates on why “failure mode and effect analysis” (FMEA) can help prevent any unforeseen circumstances from occurring.

So what exactly is this magic instrument, FMEA? This tool is qualitative, systematic, and often produces its result in a spreadsheet. It indicates where things may go wrong and helps to anticipate the likelihood of failures. FMEA is utilized across a plethora of industries and is one of the best tools of its kind.

The first step of the FMEA process is to gather the group of people with the right knowledge. Include everyone from leaders to potential customers; they all have unique insight. While brainstorming potential failures, keep in mind Murphy’s Law. Identify both the potential problems as well as the potential causes.

The FMEA process uses a three-pronged approach to assess problems:

  1. What is the severity of the problem on the customer?
  2. What is the anticipated frequency of the problem occurring?
  3. How easily is the problem able to be detected?

The group needs to think about each of these aspects and assign it a level of severity (a number between 1 and 10). Once this is completed, they can calculate the risk priority number (RPN) by using this formula: RPN = severity x occurrence x detection.

After all of the failures have been assessed and an RPN is agreed upon, the group will then rank the problems in descending order based upon the final RPN. This ranking indicates the level of priority for each potential problem. There is not necessarily a set threshold that needs attention, but it is important to be informed.

Following the prioritization of the problems, the group’s final task is to develop some solutions. After these actions have been implemented, the group should continue to meet periodically to reassess failures and prevent problems from arising.

You can read the original article here: http://www.isixsigma.com/tools-templates/fmea/quick-guide-failure-mode-and-effects-analysis/


About Author

Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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