What is FMECA Analysis?

Failure mode analysis is an important part of asset management, providing a framework for anticipating, managing, and mitigating the likelihood of equipment malfunction or failure. Failure Mode, Effects, and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) is a specific form of failure mode analysis that evaluates potential failure modes, their likely impact, and how critical this impact will be on your operation. FMECA analysis makes it possible to both predict failure modes and prioritize corrective actions.

FMECA Analysis and maintenance 

FMECA is closely related to another familiar term–Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA). However, FMECA Analysis adds an important dimension to FMEA Analysis. FMEA refers to the systematic identification of potential failure modes and the qualitative assessment of their likely effects. FMECA includes these dimensions, but also incorporates a quantitative criticality analysis. FMECA analysis is a particularly useful tool for maintenance teams, as it provides an empirical basis for prioritizing maintenance activities.

Indeed, maintenance teams play a particularly critical role in FMECA Analysis. Your maintenance team is on the front line of your asset management program. This means that the input of facilities managers and maintenance technicians will be central as you identify potential failure modes, assess their likely effects, rank the criticality of these effects, and prescribe corrective actions or mitigation strategies.

In other words, your maintenance personnel will be vital in carrying out every step in the FMECA analysis process. Below, we take a closer look at some of the key concepts underlying FMECA analysis as well as the role a well-chosen CMMS can play in implementing this analysis. 

FMECA analysis: key concepts

Before we examine the steps involved in implementing FMECA, it’s important to define a few key concepts. Below, we provide concise explanations for the fundamental elements of the FMECA process

  • Failure mode refers to one likely manner in which a component, piece of equipment, or system can potentially fail.
  • Criticality assessment is the quantitative measure of the risk associated with each failure mode and is based on an analysis of both the severity and likelihood of failure in each instance. 
  • Severity is a metric that represents the impact of failure, with 10 indicating the most severe consequences, and 1 indicating the least. 
  • Occurrence is a metric that represents the probability of failure, with 10 indicating the most likely, and 1 indicating the least. 
  • Detection is a metric that represents the likelihood of discovering a failure mode before it can occur, with 10 indicating the least detectable, and 1 indicating the most.
  • Risk Priority Number (RPN) is the metric used to quantify the risk of failure and is calculated by multiplying severity, occurrence, and detection scores to rank maintenance priorities. Higher RPNs indicate higher-priority assets.

The FMECA analysis process

Now that you understand some of the key concepts underlying the FMECA process, we can take a closer look at the methodology itself. Below, we identify the steps that typically go into this process. 

  • Step 1: List relevant systems, identifying all components, equipment, subsystems, and other critical items required to power your operations. 
  • Step 2: Identify failure modes, brainstorming all potential causes of malfunction or failure to the assets identified in the first step, with direct input from maintenance teams. 
  • Step 3: Determine the effects of each failure mode listed above, with consideration to the impact of system breakdowns on productivity, safety, operational continuity, compliance, efficiency, and more. 
  • Step 4:  Assess severity, occurrence, and detection, assigning a 1 to 10 score in each of these categories, for each of the failure modes identified, where higher scores indicate greater severity, more probable occurrence, and less likely preemptive detection of possible failure modes
  • Step 5:  Calculate RPN by multiplying your Severity, Occurrence, and Detection Scores, and use this score to inform your criticality assessment. 
  • Step 6:  Perform criticality analysis, prioritizing assets and maintenance tasks based on their criticality (i.e. the RPN score calculated above). 
  • Step 7:  Mitigate failure mode risks, proposing preventive maintenance tasks, routine servicing, and/or corrective repairs to reduce the likelihood and frequency of failure.
  • Step 8:  Implement and monitor the execution of the above-proposed tasks, evaluating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) against expectations and continuously adjusting your strategy according to your findings.

The role of a CMMS in FMECA analysis

As noted above, FMECA analysis merges both qualitative and quantitative analysis so that your maintenance team can at once identify failure modes and prioritize mitigation strategies. A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) can provide the tools to streamline the risk assessment and critical failure analysis that form the basis of FMECA analysis.

Below, we take a closer look at the role a CMMS can play in helping your organization perform FMECA analysis, as well as the benefits of leveraging a CMMS platform as compared to performing a manual failure mode analysis: 

  • Save time and reduce maintenance team workloads with automated data collection, management, and analysis
  • Minimize human error during data entry, calculation, and analysis.
  • Centralize all relevant data on one platform, improve accessibility to FMECA analysis, and integrate real-time performance metrics.
  • Leverage advanced analytics and reporting tools to foster data-driven decision-making.
  • Scale your analytical capabilities as data sets grow, systems become more complex, and organizational needs expand.
  • Maintain compliance, adhere to safety standards, and compile comprehensive documentation in anticipation of audits.

How to conduct a FMECA analysis

A Failure Modes, Effects, and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) is a systematic process that depends on the implementation of a highly structured approach. Though we’ve previewed the steps involved in FMECA analysis above, below, we take a deeper dive into this analytical process. 

Define the system and scope of FMECA

  • Identify systems, subsystems, and components to be analyzed.
  • Gather details on the intended function, operational environment, and performance of identified systems and components.
  • Assemble a cross-functional team that includes expertise in design, operations, and maintenance.

Identify failure modes

  • Brainstorm potential failure modes as a team, identifying all possible ways in which each component or subsystem can fail.
  • Incorporate historical data, maintenance records, and real-time performance metrics into this process.
  • Record and detail each identified failure mode in a systematic and structured format.

Determine effects and causes

  • Determine the potential effects of each failure mode on the relevant system, subsystem, or component.
  • Consider areas likely to be impacted by each failure mode such as safety, compliance, performance, and operational continuity.

Score severity, occurrence, and detection

  • Calculate a severity score for each failure mode using a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the greatest severity level and 1 indicating the least severity. 
  • Calculate an occurrence score for each failure mode using a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the greatest probability of occurrence and 1 indicating the least probable. 
  • Calculate a detection score for each failure mode using a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the least likely to be detected before failure, and 1 indicating the most likely. 

Calculate a Risk Priority Number (RPN)

  • Calculate the RPN for each failure mode by multiplying Severity by Occurrence by Detection (i.e. Severity × Occurrence × Detection=RPN)
  • Rank failure modes based on their RPN scores, with higher values indicating higher priority mitigation strategies.
  • Perform criticality analysis of the highest priority failure modes, preferably using a criticality matrix to identify existing safeguards, redundancies, and the overall operational impact of specific failures. 

Develop and implement mitigation strategies

  • Outline specific actions aimed at reducing the severity, lowering the probability, and improving the detection of high-priority failure modes
  • Assign responsibilities, create timelines, and initiate work order management for implementing mitigation strategies.
  • Monitor, review and improve ongoing performance of mitigation strategies using CMMS tracking tools. 

FMECA and preventive maintenance

FMECA analysis can be an extremely valuable tool for your preventive maintenance program, helping to direct the attention and effort of your maintenance personnel toward those tasks that warrant the highest prioritization and ultimately reducing the failure rate of your critical assets. 

By identifying potential failure modes, measuring their likely impact on operations, and assigning each mode a priority based on its presumed risk to your operation, FMECA analysis can form the basis for preventive maintenance scheduling, inventory management, and resource allocation.

Below, we offer some helpful tips for launching a bottom-up preventive maintenance program that takes full advantage of FMECA analysis

  • Start with a comprehensive FMECA analysis, identifying and prioritizing potential failure modes with support from a cross-functional team that includes engineers, quality control personnel, and maintenance technicians.
  • Leverage a CMMS to centralize data collection, inform analysis, and automate reporting.
  • Develop data-driven preventive maintenance plans and risk mitigation strategies with an emphasis on high-priority failure modes.
  • Incorporate condition monitoring and predictive maintenance technologies to observe real-time performance metrics, detect early signs of failure, and engage in timely intervention. 
  • Provide comprehensive training for the maintenance teams who will participate in various steps of the FMECA process as well as in the implementation of prioritized preventive maintenance tasks. 
  • Foster a culture of continuous improvement, using the insights from FMECA and the reported outcomes from preventive maintenance activities to drive ongoing enhancements.

FMECA analysis can help your maintenance team identify and address equipment and system failures before they can occur, and provide a structured roadmap for prioritizing corrective and preventive activities around these assets. 

And for a growing number of organizations, CMMS technology has become an indispensable part of this process from preparation and implementation of FMECA analysis through evaluation and continuous improvement. To be sure that you’re getting the most out of your FEMCA analysis, and your broader preventive maintenance strategy, take a closer look at Limble’s industry-leading CMMS and schedule a consultation today!

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