June 23, 2008Too often, companies learn about the existence of FMEAs (Failure Modes Effects Analysis) reactively through their customers' requests. The timing of the "reactive" introduction often results in negative first impressions and creates uncertainty in the usefulness of a proper FMEA study. If a customer is requesting documentation, perhaps the product's lifecycle is at such a stage that the core team's time is focused on other aspects of the project -- design and prototyping, preparation for manufacturing, and/or responding to an issue or complaint. Everyone is working to meet their immediate responsibilities and the FMEA is often seen as an additional task or problem. While "5 Tips to Save Time on FMEAs" advises practical ways to proactively approach FMEAs; this article explains some of the benefits of that approach.
FMEAs are documents which are intended to evolve with your project's lifecycle. The design FMEA should be started with a product's preliminary drawings; while the process FMEA should be started when the basic process flow for a product has been developed. At such an early stage, these documents may not be complete -- perhaps specifications are not yet available or customer requirements have not been finalized -- but they will quickly identify key areas for the team to focus attention as the project progresses. It is important to have these documents readily available for meetings so that as new details emerge, the FMEA may be updated. In this way, you will find your FMEA developing along side the product or process--ultimately saving you the time you would have to spend coordinating additional meetings (when team members may have moved on to other projects), recalling information, and "starting from scratch."
Time is money. So straight away, the time saved by implementing the practices above will save your company money. But there are a number of additional money-saving benefits to proactively documenting FMEA studies. The preliminary studies, for example, may highlight expenses which may be avoided or present more affordable approaches to your design or process. A successful study will ensure proper support is in place to limit defects, therefore saving the costs of repairs, replacement, reactive root cause analysis, and potentially changing a design and/or process.
Your team will begin to realize the full potential of the FMEA process as its time-saving and money-saving techniques become obvious. In addition, by updating the document regularly with the progress of the product or process lifecycle, a meeting for a brief review of the document is an easier request than one to start an FMEA study for a project which may already be running.
By identifying key areas prior to development, appropriate measures may be taken to mitigate potential risks. Also, reviewing previously documented FMEA studies or using the Library feature which comes standard with our FMEA Assistant™ software will help with brainstorming potential failure modes and control methods which may be shared by the new project and contribute to the overall robustness of the product or process.
A customer's lasting impression of your product or service is based on its quality and the your commitment to the same. Having a solid FMEA study will provide your team the support it needs while instilling confidence in your customers that due diligence has been made to ensure their needs are met--which will ultimately contribute to repeat business and your success.
The benefits of proactively completing FMEA studies can be significant! Start being proactive now by starting your FREE FMEA Assistant™ license! Click the "Request Demo" link on the left side of this page! You'll save a lot more time and money...it's guaranteed!