FMEA: Your Hub of Information

Published on: April 16, 2019
By: Murray Sittsamer

Is your Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) document a stand-alone effort, or is it connected to your planning and risk-reduction process? Or put another way:  Are you primarily complying with a customer or internal requirement, or are you actually benefiting from the activity?

Treating the FMEA as a Hub of Information is an important strategy to ensure a process of continuous improvement and ongoing quality assurance.

The following are three ways to think about FMEA that makes it a living document, makes it central to an ongoing process of planning to prevent problems, and supports your business goals. (More detail about each of these three points can be found in the “Bringing FMEA to Life” videos at the end of this post.)

1 – Treat FMEA as critical to Advanced Quality Planning and Continuous Improvement

Treating FMEA as part of a bigger picture of advanced quality planning and continuous improvement is critical to prevent costly problems. As FMEA becomes your organization’s Hub of Information, you are better positioned to achieve “right the first time” implementation for a design or process. The more iterations you have applying ‘FMEA-thinking’ the better you’ll get at identifying and lowering risks. Of course, the initial FMEA should start very early in your planning process. 

2 – FMEA Should Define Tools, Gages, and Instructions

During the planning process, FMEA should help your team define part fixturing, tools, sensors and gages that will prevent or detect problems. This thinking employs your FMEA as an action prompt, allowing you to prevent problems and waste, rather than reacting afterwards. This applies in various ways:

Drives design of equipment, tools, sensors, etc., and desired operator action on the plant floor

Drives changes to the design process to engineer out problems and risks

Reduces (even prevents) costs of scrap, rework, complaints or even worse

3- Drive the Content of Key Documents

As the Hub of Information, FMEA should be driving other documents within your organization. The detection controls and prevention controls defined in an FMEA go directly into your Design Validation Plan or Process Control Plan. They also populate the details of Inspection Plans, Preventative Maintenance Plans, Standardized Work, and Training Programs.

Those plans should not be ‘copy & paste’ from prior programs, but rather done for a reason … to prevent or detect problems related to the product or process at hand.  If you don’t want to do too much (which is waste) or too little (risk exposure), use prior programs as a reference but drive the work to be done based on the discussions and risk controls that are in your FMEA.

Taking the next step

Are you ready to shake things up by thinking differently about using FMEA?

The Luminous Group can help.

Our “Bringing FMEA to Life” video series includes three videos that focus on FMEA as a Hub of Information. Rich Nave and I share our insights on how your organization can better implement and benefit from FMEA to reduce costs and improve customer scores. Other themes in the 10-video series deal with the People Side of FMEA, FMEA as Preventive Thinking, and Problem Solving for Continuous Improvement.

The Luminous Group wants to make it easier for companies to start this change in thinking.  If you’d like to learn more, please contact us.