Problem Solving and Continuous Improvement with FMEA

Published on: May 9, 2019
By: Murray Sittsamer

Are you treating your Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) document as a problem-solving and continuous improvement tool?

It’s not wise to view or treat FMEA as a stand-alone document.  During problem solving, FMEA can be a reference to explore which potential causes were considered in the FMEA.  After problem solving, the causes of the issue – as well as all potential causes considered – should feed back to the FMEA to ensure controls are in place to prevent or detect failure modes related to those causes.

Your FMEA should proactively drive continuous improvement projects in your company. Use it as the guide that you consult often and make FMEA come to life in the following ways. (More detail about each of these points can be found in the “Bringing FMEA to Life” videos at the end of this post.)

Treat FMEA as your Lessons Learned document

The FMEA can be the core of your problem-solving efforts because it can replace a Lessons Learned document. Why have two places to reference when you can just have one? When you incorporate what you did in problem solving into your FMEA, it becomes your Lessons Learned document to guide and reduce risk in your next program.

Recommended Actions defined during FMEA development and review should be the engine that drives your Continuous Improvement actions. Why recreate the wheel when you can use your FMEA to prioritize, act, and follow up to ensure you’re preventing problems and reducing risk internally and for your customer?

FMEA Should Drive Continuous Improvement through Risk Prioritization

Your FMEA should drive continuous improvement projects in your company.

Proactive continuous improvement projects should be prioritized from information in your FMEA. The top priority for action should be on the highest severity actions.  We want to prevent those because they are so costly. The next top priority should be where Severity is medium but Occurrence is still likely. Again, the focus should be on prevention, not only improved detection.

Taking the Next Step

Are you ready to make concrete improvements by thinking differently about using FMEA?

The Luminous Group can help.

Our “Bringing FMEA to Life” video series includes two videos that focus on FMEA as a Problem-Solving and Continuous Improvement Tool. 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 FMEA as your Hub of Information.

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.