Functional failure mode and effects analysis (FFMEA)

What is FFMEA?

Functional failure mode and effects analysis (FFMEA) is used to identify potential failure modes and their effects on product performance. FFMEA helps you identify and prioritize design changes to reduce the risk of failure.

The purpose of FFMEA is to:

  • Identify all possible failures and their consequences in each system component or assembly, including the effects of operational errors resulting from human error or misuse, wear-out, aging, etc., and the consequences of such failures.
  • Estimate the probabilities for the occurrence of each failure mode.
  • Rate each severity level according to one or more criteria (e.g., cost).
  • Prioritize corrective action based on an assessment of the impact on customer satisfaction if a failure occurs.

Who uses FFMEA?

Functional failure mode and effects analysis is used by:

  • Product developers to identify a potential problem before the product is released to manufacturing.
  • Manufacturers to ensure that their processes are robust, cost-efficient, and meet customer requirements.
  • Suppliers who need a way to manage their performance in relation to their customers’ requirements.
  • Engineers for quality assurance purposes or failure analysis purposes, FFMEA can help them understand how different parts of a design might fail, how much it would cost to fix that failure, and whether or not there are risks associated with fixing it (for example, if there’s a high chance that fixing it will cause more damage).

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Where is FFMEA used?

Functional failure mode and effects analysis (FFMEA) is often the first step in an overall risk assessment or risk management plan. It’s used in:

  • Product development: A FFMEA helps engineers determine whether their designs are safe and effective while they’re still in the design stage of a new product's life cycle.
  • New product information: A FFMEA can also be conducted by suppliers before they send products with inherent risks to consumers so that companies take appropriate safety measures before shipping out any potentially dangerous goods.
  • Process improvements: In addition to being used at various stages during the manufacturing process, FFMEAs can help companies improve their processes by identifying potential problems—and how best to correct them—before those problems actually occur on production lines or in other parts of business operations.

What are the process steps to conduct FFMEA?

  1. Identify the product's function
  2. Identify the failure mode and effects
  3. List the failure modes and effects (FMEA)
  4. List the potential causes for each failure mode
  5. List the potential effects for each failure mode
  6. List any controls that could be used to prevent or mitigate these failures from occurring and/or their effects from being realized in products, processes, services, or systems (i.e., prevention) or identify what corrective actions should be taken when a failure has occurred (i.e., detection)

What are some of the advantages of using FFMEA?

There are several benefits of using the family of failure mode and effects analysis, and by using FFMEA you can:

  1. Identify potential problems before they occur.
  2. Examine the root cause of a problem.
  3. Develop a plan to prevent future failures.
  4. Identify critical areas of the product or system that need special attention such as areas where there are many interrelated complex functions, or products or processes with high failure rates because they have not been used before. These products or processes may have an unknown history or heavily utilized systems where frequent breakdowns are expected, due to wear and tear on components within those systems.
  5. Evaluate the effectiveness of your design by comparing it against similar designs that you know work well in environments like yours.

What are some of the disadvantages of using FFEMA?

Although FFEMA can be advantageous, it also has some clear disadvantages. FFEMA can be time-consuming, particularly if it's your first time using it. It also runs the risk of not being integrated effectively, which makes it extra important to get buy-in from the team so that they’ll be invested in completing FFMEA tasks and finding root causes for failures.

FFMEA can be applied to any type of product development

Functional failure mode and effects analysis is a powerful technique that can be used in various industries that create any kind of product. FFMEA provides valuable insight into a product's potential failure modes and it helps identify solutions or improvements for the product.

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