Can You Predict the Possibilities?
Understanding the power and potential of the FMEA tool is crucial. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to predict the future? If you follow a path, under a given set of circumstances,you should be able to predict the outcomes of that adventure. Almost feels like watching the weather segment of the 6 o’clock news. You see a trained professional telling you what the temperatures will be, the cloud cover and whether or not you need an umbrella. All of that prediction is given to you over a 5 or 7 day period. Business professionals tend to predict outcomes in the same manner. They look at superficial data and then, based on their gut instinct and a touch of optimism, they predict the outcomes of their process. In both scenarios, we usually end up getting caught in the rain — when everything said, we would be basking in the sunshine of success.
Seeing Success With The FMEA Tool
The FMEA Tool (Failure, Modes, Effects, Analysis) is a powerful tool available to a Lean Six Sigma practitioner. The tool is extensively used where a safety critical environment exists, such as the aerospace or automotive industry. The tool allows a team the ability to design quality and safety into processes or products on the front end of the environment, eliminating potential problems before they occur. There are three key questions the FMEA tool is built around:
- Severity: What are the consequences of failure?
- Occurrence: What is the likelihood of failure?
- Detection: How likely is it that the failure can be detected before reaching the customer or causing a safety issue?
Answering these questions and the using the tool to project the possibilities will empower a business to make better decisions about a process or a product.
This is done through a ranking system, where each question is ranked from 1-10, with 1 being the least risky, and 10 being the most risky.
- Severity: 1 = no impact to customer, 10 = hazardous effect on customer
- Occurrence: 1 = never happens, 10 = happens over 50% of the time
- Detection: 1 = Failure catch every time, 10 = failure never caught
Each ranking is multiplied across the 3 questions, to come up with a Risk Priority Number (RPN). For example, a failure might get a Severity ranking of 5, an Occurrence ranking of 3 and a Detection ranking of 6, for a total RPN of 90 (5 x 3 x 6). You can learn more about FMEA, and watch a summary video in our Six Sigma DMAIC Training Curriculum.
Enjoying the Benefits
Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a process or product that you have complete confidence in every aspect of, inception to final delivery? If you look at aerospace, they cannot afford to have errors or issues. One problem, no matter how small, can create catastrophic results for the customer or the employees. The product must be perfect in every way, during every step of the process to the final product. Your business can expect that same level of predictive accuracy when you apply the FMEA appropriately.
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John Hartwell says
Thank you for the article, FMEA is actually important tool for risk management of design and production. Even though ranking system and criteria is depend on each organization, occurrence level that happens over 10% of the time should be consider 10, 50% is too high.