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October 21, 2014

What is FMEA exactly?

Filed under: Food for thought for friends — Alec @ 1:21 pm

FMEA is a very common acronym in the manufacturing world that stands for Failure Mode Effects Analysis. It is a design, manufacturing and quality tool used to determine the robustness of design, processes of a product as well as the process to determine the probability of success. This can also be used as a tool to regularly improve the process. An FMEA rates three items: the severity of the potential failure, the probability that it will occur, and the probability that we will detect the issue prior to shipping the product. All three of these metrics are rated on a 1 to 10 scale, with 1 being insignificant, and 10 being extremely bad. The multiple of these three creates a number referred to as Risk Priority Number (RPN).

Using the concept of FMEA and RPN we are able to look at a lot of everyday events in life and business. We often worry about some things that have a very low probability of occurrence. Of course, if the consequences are extremely severe, we may want to take a second look. Let’s use a common example,-flying in an airplane. Crashes are very severe, yet at the same time the probability is extremely low. In fact, these crashes have the lowest chance of any other form of transportation.

Rather we should focus on the few vital things that have a higher probability of occurrence and are moderate in the severity of consequence. And then utilize the detection part, or measurement part as a check or assurance that it will not happen.

In conclusion: focus on the vital few instances whose risks are considered low severity and make sure you have some detection on controls with severe consequences.

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