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Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a risk assessment tool that evaluates the severity, occurrence and detection of risks to prioritize which ones are the most urgent.

The two most popular types of FMEAs are Process (PFMEA) and Design (DFMEA). Each category has a scoring matrix with a 1-10 scale:

  • Severity of 1 denotes low risk to the end customer, and a score of 10 denotes high risk to the customer
  • Occurrence of 1 denotes low probability of the risk happening, and a 10 denotes a very high probability of the risk happening
  • Detection of 1 denotes a process that will likely catch a failure, and a 10 means the process will likely not catch a failure.

After scoring of each category is complete for each risk, the three scores are multiplied together (Severity x Occurrence x Detection) to determine the Risk Priority Number (RPN). The RPNs are sorted from largest to smallest, and actions are taken on the top risks in order to reduce the overall risk.

Another way of viewing FMEA is as an inductive reasoning single point failure analysis and is a core task in reliability engineering, safety engineering and quality engineering. Widely used in development and manufacturing industries in various phases of the product life cycle, a successful FMEA activity is important in identifying potential failure modes based on experience with similar products and processes.

Benefits derived from a properly implemented FMEA effort are considerable, such as:

  • Early identification of single failure points (SFPS)
  • Provides a documented uniform method of assessing potential failure mechanisms
  • It’s an effective method for evaluating the effect of proposed changes to the design and operational procedures on mission success and safety
  • It provides criteria for early planning of tests
  • Provides a basis for in-flight troubleshooting procedures and for locating performance monitoring and fault-detection devices

Want to know more about FMEA? Tonex offers FMEA Training, a 2-day course that covers the procedures, tools and methods on how to identify potential modes of failure prior to the launch of  a new product/system or modifying an existing one.

And there’s more. Tonex offers nearly three dozen other courses in Root Cause Analysis Training. For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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