A Design Failure Mode Effects Analysis is an investigative summary of the potential risks during production that are identified in the design stage. From a history in aerospace engineering, FMEA applications now stretch from industries like software and manufacturing.
Allows engineers to assess risk factors before resources spent
Data is filed on a DFMEA matrix for analysis
Type of mistake-proofing to evaluate options for production
Involves 10 steps based on inductive reasoning
Failure Modes and Effects Analyses were first used by aerospace engineers at NASA in the 1960s to track rocket prototypes. During the 1970s, FMEA became more popular in other industries, like US environmental and geological projects.
Nowadays, FMEA is routinely used by quality, reliability, and safety engineering teams. The point of this process is to analyze an effects analysis in order to determine a failure mechanism – once a failure mechanism, or point of failure, has been identified, design modifications can be made to fix the errors before they are seen on the production room floor.
With a DFMEA in particular, the intended perspective is on design, and so the analysis must take place concurrently with the design and testing phases pre-production.
There are 3 other types of FMEA:
Remember the Ford Pinto, the first North American subcompact car? After the 1980s, Ford Motor Company began using FMEA reports to ensure safe design for future models.
An FMEA works using inductive – or forward – reasoning. This top-down approach works by making observations about a service or product and gradually drawing around a hypothesis to reach a final assessment.
The opposite to inductive reasoning is deductive reasoning, which is backward – or bottom-up thinking. This type of reasoning draws valid inferences and assembles these into a conclusion where the logic follows the premises.
There are ten steps of a DFMEA, and some of them seem repetitive, but are essential for uncovering minute potential failures.
RPN = Severity (of failure) × probability (of failure happening) × detection (the chance that the failure would go undetected before correction)
In almost any industry where quality is a key factor, a DFMEA can help with error prevention and greater control during assembly and production. Some of the applications of a DFMEA:
Any team wanting to assess their probable risk of failure in the production and delivery of a product or service can perform a DFMEA. They are most popularly done in the following industries:
A DFMEA report is extremely unique depending on the product and the team assessing it. One of the biggest difficulties of any FMEA is that the failure may be identified, but it cannot be fixed until the failure mechanism is also identified. There is great risk for this minor difference to lead to errors of correlation and causation.
Moreover, assigning numerical indicators to risk factors may help calculate an overall probability of failure, but may not be accurate enough in assessing the actual risk when there are concurrent failures. If there is more than one problem, then many versions of a DFMEA may be required as well as the more general root-cause analysis (RCA).
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