Failure mode and effects analysis is a solid framework for studying the reliability of system, and understanding its intricacies better. It does require a special approach in order to use it correctly though, and you’ll additionally want to make sure that you’re paying attention to some factors that people commonly get wrong. Avoiding those common mistakes is one of the first steps you’ll want to take when applying FMEA to your operations, and you should take some time to properly study the problems that come up most often.
In order to run FMEA effectively, you’ll want to make sure that your approach is as simplified and streamlined as possible. Otherwise you’re going to run into severe problems sooner or later, and implementing an FMEA scheme that’s overly complex also defeats the point of running FMEA in the first place. When there are too many potential points of failure, you simply cannot trust the methodology to work correctly, and you’ll want to minimize them and ensure that everything is done as easily as possible.
2. Not taking interfaces into account
You should not only study the behavior of main components; it’s also important to look at how the different interfaces between them are working, as sometimes there will be a lot of potential for failure in those areas. Unfortunately, this is also an area that gets somewhat ignored by companies implementing FMEA in their operations, which can usually lead to significantly incorrect results from the analysis. It’s critical to ensure that every part of the system is taken into consideration and not just the ones that you see first.
3. Running FMEA too late
FMEA has to be applied regularly and in due time in order to ensure that it has an appropriate effect on your operations. If you use it as an emergency post-fix and not as something that was properly planned in advance, you’re setting yourself up for trouble, and you’re probably not going to be very happy with the outcome. The best approach is to set FMEA up in a way that it’s a standard part of your process and something that can be called upon in a standardized way, instead of having to set up each of its iterations separately.
4. Not drawing proper conclusions
The main point of FMEA is to learn something useful from the ordeal – it doesn’t make much sense to just run it once and not draw any conclusions from what you see. That’s a huge waste of resources and a good way to set your business on the wrong track as well. It’s important that you pay attention to the way you’re analyzing the results of your FMEA implementation, and prioritize learning from your past mistakes. There will always be a good opportunity to learn something new when using FMEA; the question is if you have the appropriate systems in place to actually draw those conclusions. It can take some time to come up with a well-defined system for that though, so don’t worry if you don’t have it in place right from the start.
5. Relying on inexperienced people
Last but not least, FMEA should be carried out by people who actually know what it’s about, and understand the intricate implications that it has at every step of the way. It’s okay to teach your employees new things and train new people in FMEA, but you should always have someone experienced enough on your team to handle the main parts of the work and to ensure that everyone else is performing their duties correctly. Otherwise, things will devolve into chaos before you even realize it.