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5 tips to save time on FMEAs
[Published: 19 May 2008]

Let's face it, Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA) documents have the ability to take up far too much of our valuable time. The popular FMEA Assistant™ software significantly helps reduce the time to create FMEA documents. However, if you do not yet have FMEA Assistant™, there are still some tips you may follow to limit the time spent on your FMEA documents.

1. Selecting your team

The document scope plays an integral role in determining the appropriate team. The FMEA document should focus on a particular product or process and only people directly involved in the product or process in the scope of the FMEA should be involved in its creation. This may include representation of the customer requirements, key disciplines involved in the product or process design and implementation, test engineering, reliability engineering, and/or quality engineering.

"The more; the merrier" is not an applicable phrase when it comes to selecting your FMEA team. Too large of a group may limit individual contributions and inspire impertinent conversations which remove focus from the task at hand and lead to longer completion times.

2. Effective Approach

The most efficient way of completing an FMEA document is to be systematic in your approach. Filling in each column before moving on helps keep your team focused on similar types of information.

To demonstrate this theory, try the following:
i. Think of 1 type of fruit
ii. Think of 1 city
iii. Think of 1 type of animal
iv. Think of 1 color
v. Think of 1 sport

Repeat the above steps (i-v) 2 more times without repeating any of your answers.

Now, try this:
i. Think of 3 types of fruit
ii. Think of 3 cities
iii. Think of 3 types of animals
iv. Think of 3 colors
v. Think of 3 sports?

The majority of participants find the latter of the two exercises easier and faster because they are able to focus their thought and responses on particular categories.

The same applies for creating FMEA documents. Start by listing the various items or process steps. This can be done quite effectively by reviewing the product diagram or process flow. Next, determine all of the failure modes for each of the previously listed items or process steps, indicating their severity as you go. Then think of all of the causes for each failure mode. Continue this system until the document is complete.

3. Focused time management

With the right team, the ideas should flow steadily. Spending too much time on a particular entry may disrupt the pace of the document and result in longer completion times. Often the cause of delays is due to a lack of available information or lack of detail. It is recommended to maintain the pace of the team by simply assigning an action to complete the information at a later time and moving on to the next entry. The FMEA Assistant™ allows for actions to be directly assigned to particular entries to facilitate this inevitable part of creating FMEA documents.

4. Regularly update your FMEA documents

Too frequently, documents are left to collect dust. By regularly reviewing and updating your FMEA documents, the time to complete the updates may be reduced. This may sound like something that is more easily corrected in theory; But in practice, there are a number of effective and efficient opportunities to review your FMEA documents--when another document for the same or similar part or process is updated, at regular review meetings, and when a change has been made to the part or process.

5. Save thinking time

There's no need to "re-invent the wheel" when brainstorming information and data to incorporate in your FMEA documents. A lot of time may be saved by reviewing documents for similar parts, products, and processes and using them as resources.

So there they are! Five easy ways of reducing the time to complete FMEA documents (even if you don't yet have an FMEA Assistant™ license). But what are you waiting for? You'll save a lot more time and money when you start using FMEA Assistant™!

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