By Sphera’s Editorial Team | March 12, 2017

You’ve heard the expression: “Failure is not an option.” That’s all well and good, but failure is most certainly an option—even if it’s undoubtedly not a desired one—in areas such as product design, machinery and processes.

That’s where a Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, or FMEA, can help companies understand the potential risks involved if something goes awry.

But what many companies fail to understand is the concept of what a failure mode is. In other words, there are many ways things can go wrong with numerous potential outcomes.

Take a simple No. 2 pencil as an example. That common writing utensil can be broken in two in various ways: It can be chopped in half with something sharp or you could bend it upward in the middle until it snaps among a number of other possibilities.

Depending on how the pencil is broken—the cause—it could lead to a different effect from the break. In one instance, the break could be smooth so the risk is simply you’ll have to switch pencils sooner. A jagged break or snap could potentially lead to a sliver or cut.

Now write this down in bold letters and underline it: That’s just a broken pencil that we’re talking about.

Imagine how many different possible failures—small and large, high and low risk—there could be in a complex piece of machinery such as an automobile or even a space shuttle.

FMEA helps companies guard against those potential failures. As history tells us, trying to oversimplify the failure-discovery process or missing key possibilities in the analysis can lead to costly or potentially deadly events occurring.

5 Reasons Why FMEAs Are Critical Components of Mitigating Risk:

  1. They help identify potential failures that could occur.
  2. They help assess the negative consequential effects resulting from potential failures.
  3. They help evaluate the effectiveness of preventive detection controls put in place to help reduce failure occurrence levels.
  4. They help evaluate the effectiveness of mitigative detection controls put in place to minimize the severity of the impact.
  5. They help enable implementation of applicable recommendations to reduce overall risk.

Sphera has been helping companies conduct Failure Mode and Effects Analysis with its FMEA-Pro software for decades.

It’s used to help improve a business’ bottom line by implementing a consistent, standardized process to thoroughly analyze the inherent risks in product designs and manufacturing processes.