Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a structured analytical tool used by an organisation, business unit, or cross-functional team to identify and evaluate the potential failures of a process. This tool helps to establish the impact of the failure, identify and prioritise the action items with the goal of alleviating risk. It is a living document that should be initiated prior to process of production and maintained through the life cycle of the product.
In other words, FMEA is often the first step of a system reliability study. It involves reviewing as many components, assemblies, and subsystems as possible to identify failure modes, and their causes and effects. For each component, the failure modes and their resulting effects on the rest of the system are recorded in a specific FMEA worksheet or tools. AMCO Integrity is developing its own RCA and FMEA tools and will be available end of this year for the analysis.
FMEA and FMECA effort are as follows:
- It provides a documented method for selecting a design with a high probability of successful operation and safety.
- A documented uniform method of assessing potential failure mechanisms, failure modes and their impact on system operation, resulting in a list of failure modes ranked according to the seriousness of their system impact and likelihood of occurrence.
- Early identification of single failure points (SFPS) and system interface problems, which may be critical to mission success and/or safety. They also provide a method of verifying that switching between redundant elements is not jeopardised by postulated single failures.
- An effective method for evaluating the effect of proposed changes to the design and/or operational procedures on mission success and safety.
- A basis for in-flight troubleshooting procedures and for locating performance monitoring and fault-detection devices.
- Criteria for early planning of tests.
There are several times at which it makes sense to perform a Failure Mode and Effects Analysis:
- When you are designing a new product, process or service
- When you are planning on performing an existing process in a different way
- When you have a quality improvement goal for a specific process
- When you need to understand and improve the failures of a process
In addition, it is advisable to perform an FMEA occasionally throughout the lifetime of a process. Quality and reliability must be consistently examined and improved for optimal results.