What is the FMEA Process?

The FMEA, or Failure Mode and Effects Analysis is a process that helps defining and designing products by focusing on what might fail before releasing their final versions.

 

This process is not a closed framework.

  • Depending on the product, the company or the analyst, it can present different structures.

 

However, there are 3 main pillars, every FMEA process should have:

  • A Study of the Requirements that a product should meet.
  • Identify what could cause these requirements not to be met.
  • Preventing these causes from occurring.

 

Sometimes, companies develop FMEA processes so long and complex that they end up being totally useless.

 

Now, we’ll propose you a simple but effective FMEA framework:

FMEA Steps

The first Step is to identify what Requirements, the analyzed product should meet.

  • What makes this product perfectly fulfill the function for which it was designed.

 

Then, for each identified Requirement considered, you should study:

 

1. Potential Failure Modes: What cause a Requirement not to be met?

  • There can be different causes for different Requirements.

 

2. Potential Cause of Failure: Why do these Failure Modes occur?

  • Root Causes that cause them.

 

3. Severity: How Severe these Failure Modes are.

  • Is it a serious problem or should you not be concerned?

 

4. Probabilities: How likely are these Failure Modes to occur.

  • Probability percentage or just an estimate.

 

5. Detection: How you can detect the Root Causes causing Failure Modes.

  • The more accurate the detection, the better.

 

6. Actions: What actions have been, or will be taken.

  • Actions that eliminate the Root Causes causing Failure Modes.

 

* You’ll find an open Excel with this FMEA process and all the examples we’re about to explain in the “Operational Planning Templates” page.

FMEA framework proposed by Consuunt.

 

You’ll understand it better with a real example:

FMEA Process example

Imagine that we were designing the “first” BiC pen.

 

We want to design a Pen that meets the next Requirements:

  • Affordable.
    • It should be as cheap as possible.
  • Durable.
    • As long as you don’t lose it, its ink should last for weeks.
  • Reliable.
    • It should work perfectly no matter who uses it.

 

What would our FMEA process look like?

 

FMEA process of a Pen design.

 

Of course, the real framework would have much more entries.

  • But it can be useful for you to have an idea about what this tool looks like.

Now, you may be wondering: “Why should I care about something that has not happened yet? Why worry?”

 

Trust us: If you don’t try to foresee potential defects or “Failure Modes”, you will find them the hard way, sooner than later.

Why is the FMEA Process important?

As we mentioned before, lots of professionals try to develop FMEA processes so long and complex, that end up with a useless tool.

That is why we proposed you our simple (but useful) FMEA framework.

  • Because it is better to have a simpler tool you will use rather than a very complex one you’ll never use.

 

Being said that, developing a proper FMEA analysis can prevent you from having serious problems.

 

Without an FMEA process, you can launch a successful product, of course.

But, once your product has been launched… that’s when the big problems can start.

  • Claims.
  • Defects.
  • Increases in the prices of raw materials.
  • Manufacturing problems.
  • Your competitors can copy your product, improving it.

 

And we can assure you that, if you have serious problems once your product has been launched, you’ll wish you had not launched it.

  • Money refunds.
  • Complaints that end in trials.
  • etc.

 

And the FMEA tool can help you prevent these problems.

Now you know how important this tools is… comes the following question:

  • When should you use it?

When should you use the FMEA Process?

You should perform an FMEA process, whenever:

  • You design a completely new Product, Service or Business.
  • You have to re-design a Product, Service or Business.
  • You plan to improve a current Product, Service or Business.

 

Now, we’ll give you different examples to help you understand When and How you should use this tool:

FMEA Process examples

Everybody think that an FMEA process can only be developed within a large company… And that is false.

 

You can apply the FMEA in different Businesses for different types of products.

 

That is why we have chosen these examples:

Website building - FMEA example

 

Now, let’s imagine you are designing a new Website.

 

After careful consideration, you decide that this Site should meet the following Requirements:

  • Should be a Fast Site.
  • Should be an Engaging Site.
  • It should have no coding Errors.

 

What would your Website building FMEA look like?

 

FMEA process of a Website building.

 

As you can see in the image above, you finally decided to:

  • In order to meet the Fast Requirement:
    • Install as few Plugins as possible.

 

  • In order to meet the Engaging Requirement:
    • Check your best pages and replicate their “language, style and structure” in other publications.

 

  • In order to meet the “No Errors” Requirement:
    • You decide not to add any additional CSS or PHP code.

 

* If you don’t see the image text correctly, you can download the Excel from the “Operational Planning Templates Page.

Handmade jewelry - FMEA example

 

Now, let’s assume you are designing a new handmade bracelet.

 

After developing some sketches and research, you decide that your new bracelet should meet the following Requirements:

  • Should be strong.
  • It should have a “medium price”.
  • It should be “easy-to-clean”.

 

You then, decide to develop an FMEA process:

 

FMEA Process of a Handmade bracelet design.

 

As you can see in the image above, you finally decide to:

  • In order to meet the Strong Requirement:
    • Adopt a solid design and use strong materials.

 

  • In order to meet the “Medium price” Requirement:
    • You decide to buy a big stock of raw materials so Market price fluctuations won’t affect you so much.

 

  • In order to meet the “Easy to Clean” Requirement:
    • You decide to use just one Stone instead of 2 stones together.

 

* If you don’t see the image text correctly, you can download the Excel from the “Operational Planning Templates” Page.

Opening your own Pub - FMEA example

 

Now, let’s assume you are considering opening a Pub.

 

After thinking carefully about what your favorite Pubs look like, you end up with the next Requirements:

  • The Pub should be Profitable.
  • Your Pub must be Neighbor-friendly.
  • Your Pub should Engage with your clients.

 

Your FMEA process looks like this:

 

FMEA Process of a New Pub opening.

 

As you can appreciate in the image above, you decide to:

In order to meet the Profitable Requirement:

  • Acquire a Cost-analysis program to calculate your weekly and monthly profits.

 

In order to meet the Neighbor-friendly Requirement:

  • You decide to create an interior soundproofing terrace so your clients don’t go outside to smoke (and speak loud).

 

In order to meet the Engaging Requirement:

  • You decide to hire a Human resources company specialized in hiring waiters.

 

* If you don’t see the image text correctly, you can download the Excel from the “Operational Planning Templates” Page.

Summarizing

The Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a process that helps defining and designing Products, Services or Business activities, by focusing on what might fail before releasing their final versions.

 

Although it is not a “strictly closed” framework, there are 3 main pillars, every FMEA process should have:

  • A Study of the Requirements that a product should meet.
  • Identify what could cause these requirements not to be met.
  • Preventing these causes from occurring.

 

For each Requirement considered, you should study:

  1. Its Potential Failure Modes.
  2. Potential Root Causes of Failure.
  3. Severity of that Potential Failure Modes.
  4. The Probability of this happening.
  5. How these Root Causes can be Detected.
  6.  Actions that can or will be taken.

 

Although many companies develop extremely long and complex FMEA processes, we suggest that you develop a simpler but more useful one.

Remember: it is better to have a simpler tool you will use rather than a very complex one you’ll never use.

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