Failure reporting, analysis, and corrective action system (FRACAS)

What is a FRACAS?

FRACAS stands for failure reporting, analysis, and corrective action system. It’s a closed-loop system designed to help maintenance teams find, respond to, and fix the root cause of asset failure. A FRACAS is made up of three main elements:

  • Failure reporting (identifying all the ways an asset has failed and could fail)
  • Failure analysis (learning what caused asset failure)
  • Failure correction (taking steps to fix asset failure and prevent it from happening again)

A FRACAS uses the historical performance of equipment to optimize the lifecycle of that asset. That includes using a FRACAS to make decisions on how to design, operate, maintain, and dispose of an asset.

What is the FRACAS loop?

The FRACAS loop is a step-by-step process for creating and implementing a failure reporting, analysis, and corrective action system. Each step gives you a framework for reporting, analyzing, and taking corrective action on asset failure. It is a loop because these activities are constantly repeating so you can continually find, learn from, and correct failure.

The FRACAS loop is made up of five main steps:

  • Failure mode and effects analysis: A failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a list of all the ways equipment can fail, the impact of each failure, the potential causes of the issue, and what to do about it. An FMEA helps you prioritize action based on asset criticality, the impact and frequency of failure, and the resources needed to repair that failure. As you find out more about an asset’s failure patterns, you can modify your FMEAs to reflect trends.
  • Failure code creation: Failure codes are a way to quickly describe the type of asset failure that occurred. Failure codes are typically made up of three sections-component, defect, and cause. For example, a failure code on a variable speed conveyor might be: Bearing, wear, lack of lubrication. Failure codes allow you to organize, sort, and track failure types over time so you can build a plan to eliminate them.
  • Work order analysis: A work order analysis helps you spot common failures and resolve them. Analyzing your work orders requires you to look at the frequency of failure codes in work order completion notes. This allows you to understand what problem to focus on and create a baseline to measure your response against.
  • Root cause analysis: A root cause analysis (RCA) is a process for finding the reason for asset failure beyond just the immediate cause. For example, the immediate cause of bearing failure may be a lack of lubrication. But a root cause analysis will identify what caused the lack of lubrication, like unclear instructions or a lack of training. The value of a root cause analysis is in eliminating the source of asset failure so it doesn’t happen again. There are several ways to conduct an RCA, but this root cause analysis template can help you get started.
  • Strategy adjustment: The final part of the FRACAS loop is to act on all the insights you’ve collected in the previous steps. For example, you may find through a root cause analysis that the reason a bearing keeps failing is that mislabelled lubrication is being used. You may create a new labelling system and give technicians training on this new system to reduce the likelihood of this failure. You can close the loop by modifying your FMEAs to reflect your adjustments and the impact they have on asset failure.

Examples of a FRACAS in maintenance

Here are a few FRACAS examples from the world of maintenance that highlight how to use failure data to improve reliability at your facility:

  • Through a work order analysis of failure codes and a root cause analysis, you discover that equipment is breaking down when old parts are used for repairs. You also see that these failures are costing a lot in lost production. You can make a case to get a higher inventory budget to eliminate these failures.
  • An asset that rarely broke down before is failing more often and you don’t know why. A FRACAS analysis reveals the problems started three months ago when the line began using different product specs that affected the machine set-up. You can develop a new process for communicating line modifications that decrease downtime at several sites.
  • A failure report of all your work orders identifies three common types of failure codes. You only have the resources to tackle one this quarter. You examine your FMEAs, cost reports, and RCAs to find the failure with the biggest impact. This allows you to secure the budget to hire more technicians and fix the other failures.

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How to get good data for your FRACAS system

Set aside time every month to check your data and make sure all your metrics are accurate. That doesn't mean reviewing every single work order to verify them. It means conducting spot checks, looking for red flags in your data collection processes, and talking to technicians to identify where obstacles might be hampering your efforts. Some good questions include:

  • Is there any inspection or task that feels unnecessary? Remove this task, reduce its frequency, or explain why it's important.
  • Are you clear on what data to log and why it's important? Get everyone on the same page about what to measure and how.
  • Is data easy to log? If not, why? Uncover processes that made sense on paper, but don't work in practice.
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