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Risk identification tool, process quality assessment


The development of industry and the introduction of technologies of the Industry 4.0 class leads to a reduction in the total number of operations in production. At the same time, the complexity and variability of the processes, on the contrary, increases.

In such conditions, it is critically important for the enterprise to develop an effective risk management strategy. It is based on specialized analytical methods that help:

– track and record equipment malfunctions;

– determine the fundamental causes of failures;

– find potential errors and predict breakdowns;

– assess the readiness to confront emerging threats;

– to minimize the consequences of failures for all aspects of the business.

The FMEA method (Failure Mode and Effect Analysis) effectively solves such problems. It has been successfully used since the middle of the last century: first for the needs of the defense and aerospace industries, and later in all areas related to the creation of complex products or hazardous production.

FMEA principles

The essence of the Failure Mode and Effect Analysis method lies in the name itself.

Failure Mode – the study of situations in which something can fail. These can be either already discovered defects or potential reliability problems. Qualitative and quantitative failure analysis helps to get an objective picture of the success of the processes.

Effect Analysis – study of the consequences of detected failures. In the short and long term, the impact on all end-to-end business processes is assessed. Such analysis helps to improve the speed of response to failures and minimize their consequences.

The subject of analysis can be not only a single object (piece of equipment, structural component or product sample (Design FMEA)). The method is successfully used to identify shortcomings in the organization of multilevel processes (Process FMEA). This could be supply chain management or an asset maintenance plan.

The practical side of FMEA is the ranking of failures and errors to prioritize the likely causes of failures. Based on this rating, a preventive action strategy is developed and implemented.

Method structure

FMEA analysis is a systematic cyclical process that consists of several sequential steps:

  • Dividing the process into separate stages, and the product into separate components.
  • Determination of possible failure modes for each subject of analysis.
  • Determine the possible consequences of a failure on process parameters or product characteristics.
  • An assessment of the severity of the consequences of failure on a scale from 1 to 10.
  • Identifying the fundamental causes of failure.
  • An estimate of the frequency of failure on a scale of 1 to 10.
  • Define detection modes, controls and failure prevention tools.
  • Evaluation of the difficulty of detecting and controlling failure on a scale from 1 to 10.
  • Failure ranking based on the Risk Priority Number (RPN).
  • Create a preventive action plan for failures with the highest RPN.
  • Appointment of responsible persons, implementation of a preventive action plan, updating the RPN.
  • Risk Priority Number is calculated according to the formula:

RPN = severity of consequences x frequency of occurrence x difficulty of detection and control.

The result of the FMEA analysis is presented in the form of a table.

RPN = severity of consequences x frequency of occurrence x difficulty of detection and control.

The result of the FMEA analysis is presented in the form of a table.

Effect of use

FMEA is a powerful and reasonably accurate risk assessment tool. The method is based on a structured approach to improving the quality of operational processes, products or services. In the course of research, the analytical group determines the possible options for failures, quantitatively evaluates the likelihood of their occurrence and the severity of the consequences.

When should you use the FMEA method? Analysis of failure modes and consequences brings the greatest value to the enterprise in several scenarios:

– development and implementation of a new process, product or service;

– modification of an existing process, product or service;

– deployment of quality functions (Quality Function Deployment, QFD);

– updating plans and management tools;

– creating a strategy for improving specific KPIs.

FMEA is particularly effective when combined with Predictive Maintenance. According to McKinsey, in-depth process analysis, combined with optimization of maintenance and repair plans, can reduce equipment startup time after an emergency shutdown by 90%. This is critical for the chemical and food processing industries, which are losing millions to interconnected asset downtime.

Analytics tools

We described how FMEA Failure Analytics is used to optimize MRO. But for such a useful tool to become part of a reliability management strategy, the integration of FMEA functionality into the architecture of the global IT system of the enterprise is required.

Manual bounce ranking and risk prioritization in stand-alone spreadsheets is a waste of work. Access to input data becomes more difficult, the speed of reaction to refusals decreases, but, most importantly, analytical results are not recorded for future use. End-to-end management of business processes in such conditions is out of the question.

Platforms such as SmartEAM already include a module for FMEA analysis. This ensures a seamless interaction between digital failure detection and maintenance planning tools.

A centralized approach to analytics enhances business readiness to withstand emerging threats. And what is even more important, it brings the enterprise closer to the implementation of automated risk management technologies.

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