Quality Progress - May 2017 - 39

Potential failures of FMEA

Conducting an FMEA sometimes can be more challenging
than what is inferred from the instructions. Consider the
partially completed entry from an illustrative FMEA shown
in Table 1. Nearly everybody is familiar with the process
of driving and "staying in your lane," which has become a
metaphor to describe the avoidance of overreaching one's
own bounds.
One important failure mode while driving on a two-lane
undivided highway is when a car from the opposite lane
crosses over into your lane. Potentially, this can cause a
head-on collision at 55 mph. There are several potential
causes for this failure mode, one of which is driver distraction. In many cases, the only process control is visual
identification using the painted yellow line between lanes.
Usually, such detection provides more anxiety than consolation to customers of the highway.
Even when presented to groups that have the necessary
skills to use the FMEA tool independently, the RPN results
can vary significantly. These observations might indicate
the tool depends on the prerequisites of clear standards,
meaningful instructions, effective training and the participation of process subject matter experts.
You might perform an FMEA to identify failure modes
related to conducting an FMEA. Such analysis immediately
suggests a potential failure mode related to inadequate or
incomplete FMEA documentation.
There is a chance the team might omit potential failure
modes, their potential effects on particular key customers
and potential causes. The potential effect this might have
on the organization is unrecognized or unmitigated risk
because the FMEA team might fail to recognize particular
key process risk and thereby fail to take appropriate action.
Potential causes for this failure mode are listed in Table 2.
Insufficient customer focus is one mechanism of failure
that might cause inadequate FMEA documentation. When
an embedded operation focuses too much on the end user,
for example, you can lose focus on the customer at the next
stage of operation.
It can be problematic when a team is willing to deliberate
at length about the needs of an end user with no actual
data from that voice of the customer (VOC) while simultaneously dismissing the needs of the next operation step
when firsthand VOC data is within walking distance.
Improper identification of the mechanism of failure is
another potential cause of inadequate FMEA documentation. Causes should be described in terms of something
that can be corrected or controlled. Ambiguous phrases
should be avoided.
The absence of a solution is not a cause. "Forgetting

TA B L E   2

Potential FMEA tool failure modes
(Not intended to be a complete list)

Potential failure
mode

Potential effect
of failure

Inadequate
or incomplete
FMEA
documentation
(failure to be
comprehensive)

Unrecognized
and
unmitigated
risk

Potential cause
Insufficient customer focus
Improper identification of the
mechanism of failure
Severity is scored based on
failure mode (incorrect) rather
than effect of failure (correct)
Subjective correlation of
severity with occurrence and/
or detection

Inaccurate RPN
value (failure to
be accurate and
objective)

Occurrence is scored based
on effect of failure (incorrect)
rather than mechanism of
failure (correct)
Unmitigated
risk

Probability of detection is
overestimated
Detection score is based on an
ambiguous customer
Subjective correlation of
detection with occurrence
Detection score is improved
by using more visual
inspection alone
Detection score is improved by
using random quality checks

FMEA = failure mode and effects analysis

one's sunglasses," for example, is not a mechanism of
failure when a car from the opposite lane crosses over into
your lane. "Environment" is not an adequate description
because it is too vague. Specifically, "sun glare" can be a
valid cause, but not the lack of sunglasses, for which there
is a potential solution.
Performing an FMEA or using the FMEA tool also suggests a potential failure mode related to inaccurate RPN
values. There is a chance any particular Sev, Occ or Det
ranking might be inaccurate, which can result in an inaccurate RPN value.
The potential effect this might have on an organization
is unmitigated risk because the FMEA team might underestimate a particular key risk and fail to take appropriate

qualityprogress.com ❘ May 2017

QP 39


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - May 2017

Seen and Heard
Expert Answers
Progress Report
Mr. Pareto Head
Field Notes
Mind the Gaps
Solid Footing
Are These the Same?
New Tricks for an Old Tool
Innovation Imperative
Experience More
Career Coach
Statistics Spotlight
Standard Issues
Marketplace
Footnotes
Back to Basics
Quality Progress - May 2017 - intro
Quality Progress - May 2017 - cover1
Quality Progress - May 2017 - cover2
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 1
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 2
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 3
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 4
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 5
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Seen and Heard
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Expert Answers
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Progress Report
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Mr. Pareto Head
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 10
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 11
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Field Notes
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 13
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 14
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 15
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Mind the Gaps
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 17
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 18
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 19
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 20
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 21
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 22
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 23
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Solid Footing
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 25
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 26
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 27
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 28
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 29
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Are These the Same?
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 31
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 32
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 33
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 34
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 35
Quality Progress - May 2017 - New Tricks for an Old Tool
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 37
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 38
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 39
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 40
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 41
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 42
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 43
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Innovation Imperative
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 45
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 46
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Career Coach
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 48
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 49
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Statistics Spotlight
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 51
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 52
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 53
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Standard Issues
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 55
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 56
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 57
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Marketplace
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 59
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Footnotes
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 61
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 62
Quality Progress - May 2017 - 63
Quality Progress - May 2017 - Back to Basics
Quality Progress - May 2017 - cover3
Quality Progress - May 2017 - cover4
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