FMEA or Failure Analysis?
A question we frequently hear from clients and potential clients is this: Should we train our engineers in FMEA or failure analysis? It’s a good question. Let’s consider each.
FMEA is an abbreviation for Failure Modes and Effects Analysis. It’s also referred to as FMECA (an abbreviation for Failure Modes, Effects, and Criticality Analysis). The two (FMEA and FMECA) are the same thing. An FMEA (or FMECA) is usually prepared during the product or process development and implementation phase. It is designed to identify all possible failure modes of each part of the product or process, the effects of the failure, the criticality of the failure, and actions that can be taken to prevent occurrence. These analyses tend to be more general in nature than a root cause failure analysis (which I’ll explain in a moment). The idea is to identify what could go wrong (before failures occur), and incorporate appropriate actions to prevent failures from occurring. FMEA is primarily a risk management tool (and it’s a good one). We’ll have another blog up soon focused specifically on FMEA preparation, so keep an eye on this site.
Root cause failure analysis is a more focused discipline applied once a failure has occurred. Its purpose is to identify the causes of a specific failure (again, a failure that has already occurred or is recurring in a product or manufacturing process). The intent is to define the failure, identify all possible causes, objectively and systematically evaluate each potential cause, converge on the most likely causes, and then implement appropriate corrective and preventive actions. Many folks think engineers automatically (by virtue of their technical background and training) know how to analyze failures; anyone who runs a manufacturing or development effort knows this is not the case. Failure analysis is not always intuitive. It has to be done in a systematic, objective, and rapid manner to identify all potential failure causes for a specific failure, and then rapidly bore in on the actual cause. Failure to take this comprehensive approach is the primary reason many failures recur.
Engineers receive no training during their engineering undergraduate or graduate education in this critical area, and most engineers don’t know how to identify and correct root causes. We’ve taught our comprehensive root cause failure analysis training program to many companies and military organizations in Israel, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, China, Thailand, Singapore, Barbados, and the United States, and our Systems Failure Analysis text is recognized as the source document for analyzing complex system failures.
Both technologies (FMEA and root cause failure analysis) are critically important. We offer focused onsite training in both areas. We tailor our training to your specific needs; we’ll never ask a you to make your needs fit our solution. Feel free to contact us for more information at email@example.com or by calling 909 204 9984.