Thinking organizations like fault tree analysis (FTA) because it’s a logical, graphical diagram that organizes the possible element failures and combination of failures that lead to the top level fault being studied.
There are numerous ways any product could fail. Fault tree analysis permits an organization’s team to think through and organize the sequences or patterns of faults that have to occur to cause a specific top level fault.
The top level fault may be a specific type of failure such as a car that won’t start, or it may be focused on a serious safety related failure, such as the starter motor overheats starting a fire.
A complex system may have numerous FTAs that each explore a different failure mode.
There are considerable benefits to using FTA such as highlighting the important elements of system related to system failure. The FTA process may lead to a single component or material that causes many paths to failure, thus improving that one element may minimize the possibly of many failures.
An FTA can also expose system behavior and possible interactions. FTA allows the examination of the many ways a fault may occur and may expose non-obvious paths to failure that other analysis approaches miss.
FTA is especially useful for creating a graphical aid for system analysis and management. Managers have been known to like graphics, and for a complex system, fault tree analysis helps to focus the team on critical elements.
The starting point for a fault tree analysis diagram is the failure itself. From that top event onwards, the diagram should grow following a logical sequence – until you determine root cause.
The fault-tree analysis diagram applies Boolean logic. It employs symbols to represent each event that might have caused or contributed to the breakdown, including external and conditioning events. The gate symbols (“and,” “or”) that connect them establish the relationship between input and output events.
Want to learn more? Tonex offers Fault Tree Analysis Training, a 2-day course that teaches participants how fault tree analysis (FTA) is used in system engineering and analysis practices such as reliability, maintainability and safety.
FTA is a common method for safety assessments and probabilistic risk assessments (PRAs). A PRA is a systematic approach to risk and reliability analysis, which estimates risk, the likelihood of failure, and the magnitude of the consequences.
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