The Many Benefits of Performing a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis

Understanding why something went wrong is the first step in fixing it and preventing it from happening again. On the factory floor, this process is called Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA). It’s a core tool among lean Six Sigma evangelists and a useful approach for defining problems. A well-executed FMEA yields insight into the nature of a problem, how to fix it, and how to avoid it in the future.

The basics of failure modes

FMEA is a step-by-step process that identifies, qualifies, and remediates a manufacturing problem. The evaluation is thorough, considering all possible reasons for failure. As its name suggests, it’s primarily a two-part approach. Failure Mode is the identification of potential causes and defects; Effects Analysis is the study of what caused those failures and how to fix and prevent them.

The FMEA process is extremely granular and complex, varying in the number of steps based on the scope of the problem. A basic FMEA approach considers all angles of a problem and potential solutions from start to finish, like so:

  • Identify the function or process failure
  • Describe the nature of the failure
  • Identify the impact of the failure
  • Qualify the severity of the failure
  • Examine the frequency of the failure
  • Identify a detection mode for the failure
  • Qualify the difficulty or ease of detection
  • Assign a risk priority
  • Identify recommended actions for remediation
  • Assign responsibility for action
  • Set a target date for failure resolution
  • Describe the actions taken
  • Qualify the outcome of the remediation

Like all lean manufacturing processes, FMEA utilizes a controlled framework to ensure consistency, clarity, and accountability.

The benefits of FMEA

Executing a thorough FMEA yields widespread benefits for factory managers that go beyond solving the immediate problem of defective machinery. Some of the core benefits include:

  • A well-documented FMEA process identifies and contextualizes the failure, providing insight into the scope of its effects.
  • The framework of an FMEA process provides a uniform approach to identifying any and all problems with machinery or processes.
  • Data gleaned from an FMEA process provides information necessary for early identification of future, similar problems.
  • The qualifiers present within an FMEA approach form a method for evaluating changes and the urgency of action.
  • The outcome of an FMEA procedure provides all the information and tools for improving SOPs and maintenance approaches.
  • Information learned during the FMEA forms the foundation for planning future evaluations.

From new processes to unanticipated malfunctions of equipment, FMEA is both a preventive and reactive tool for improving factory maintenance. Systematically working through failures and understanding their effects puts maintenance managers in a better position to facilitate excellence within their proactive maintenance schedules.

Start using FMEA to your advantage

Every maintenance manager should be using FMEA to diagnose and resolve equipment problems. From an evaluative standpoint, nothing provides more crucial information for improving the total maintenance of machinery. From a lean manufacturing standpoint, having the rigid framework of an FMEA process decreases time and errors during the diagnosis and resolution process. Overall, the benefits of FMEA speak for themselves.

Relying on a robust, comprehensive FMEA approach as part of ongoing improvements to your maintenance program is the best way to identify, evaluate, remediate, and prevent equipment problems now and in the future.

If your FMEA approach has uncovered the need for specialized maintenance, you can always count on the professionals at Global Electronic Services to assist you. Contact us for all your industrial electronic, servo motor, AC and DC motor, hydraulic, and pneumatic needs — and don’t forget to like and follow us on Facebook!

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