5 Key Reliability Elements for Feeding Effective FMEAs

5 Key Reliability Elements for Feeding Effective FMEAs

By Sphera’s Editorial Team | April 17, 2017

We at Sphera spend a lot of time thinking about failure—and that’s what makes us so successful.

While failure tends to have a negative connotation for obvious reasons, the truth is failure is inevitable. In industry, it’s how we learn from failure and plan for its occurrence through reliability in Failure Modes and Effects Analysis, or FMEA, that matters.

Albert Einstein failed the entrance exam to the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich the first time he took the test. The second time he took it produced much better results. Even Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin recently tweeted that he “applied to be a Rhodes scholar twice and was turned down. How different my life would have been. Sometimes failure leads to great success.”

If one of the greatest minds and one of the most important astronauts of the 20th century could experience failure, then it’s no surprise that the universe is filled with unfavorable outcomes—and industry is no exception.

For instance, automobiles cannot run forever without failing in some regard—whether it’s the tires, brakes, transmission, engine, etc. Any piece of machinery or technology will eventually fail without maintenance, and most pieces of equipment have dozens if not hundreds or thousands of different components that eventually will take a turn for the worst. Even a simple aluminum can will decompose naturally in, oh, about 80 to 200 years. The question is when will your product or piece of machinery break down or start to break down, and what can you do to prepare for that inevitable consequence? Companies would be ill-advised to invest in a horseshoe and bet on luck in hopes of avoiding any potential negative repercussions from failure.

Instead, they should devote their resources toward learning more about reliability engineering and how and when the technology they use or sell is likely to fail.

Reliability is what separates the stalwart, well-established brands from the also-rans. Spherions are experts at creating quality assessment solutions to help clients understand what could go wrong and when.


Bathtub Curve

There are three distinct phases of possible failures known as the bathtub curve in reliability engineering. The first phase of a product’s life cycle is called the “infant” phase and lasts up to 18 months.

A failure early on is referred to as an “Infant Mortality” failure. During this period, failure generally occurs because of manufacturing errors, but the failure rate decreases rapidly until it gets to the second phase, known as the “Random or Constant Cause” failure period. This second phase has a low rate of failure because manufacturing errors have been addressed by this point and the product or device is statistically unlikely to break down. The final phase is known as the “Wear-Out” failure period. Once a product has been used for a long period, it eventually will start to deteriorate because of wear and tear. Thus, the chance of failure starts to increase again.

What Sphera’s experts can help you with is to design and implement the most optimized and effective Quality Risk Management software to help you better predict when your device, piece of machinery, product or what have you is most likely to fail—and how—so that your company can be prepared for this likely occurrence. After all, most products and technology have numerous ways they can break down. The question for companies is: If one “Jenga” piece of the machine gets taken out of the equation because of a failure, does the whole system come tumbling down?

Sphera offers both desktop (FMEA-Pro, FMEA-Med and FTA-Pro) and a scalable enterprise platform (Stature) for quality assessment solution incorporating qualitative, semi-qualitative and quantitative techniques such as FMEA, Failure Mode and Effect Criticality Analysis as well as various Advanced Product Quality Planning specifications such as Design Verification Plan & Report; Design Review Based on Test Results; Production Part Approval Process; Process Flow Plan; Control Plan Root Cause Analysis; Fault Tree Analysis; and Action Tracking.


5 Key Reliability Elements for Feeding Effective FMEAs

Here are five key reliability areas that our software helps companies examine to provide the most complete picture possible of potential failures within their systems.

  1. 1) Availability: Our solutions help users determine what the likelihood is that a component, product, machine, device, etc., will be able to work when called into duty at an unpredictable point in time (think of a fighter jet that could be used at any time and needs to be able to take off at a moment’s notice).
  2. 2) Dependability: Our software helps operators determine if a product or piece of equipment is likely to remain operable and capable of performing its function during the run of its mission regardless of what that mission is.
  3. 3) Failure Rate: FMEA-Pro helps users determine how many products are likely to fail in a certain amount of time. Out of 100 vehicles coming off the production line, for instance, how many are likely to have a significant wear-and-tear breakdown before 60,000 miles?
  4. 4) Failure Effect: Our products help operators assess the potential consequences of what might happen should a product or piece of machinery fail.
  5. 5) Reliability Growth: Our solutions help enable engineers to identify potential improvements in reliability much better and therefore trigger enhancements in design and manufacturing.

To learn more about how Sphera can help assess reliability issues, please contact us.

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Sphera is the leading provider of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance and risk management software, data and consulting services with a focus on Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability (EHS&S), Operational Risk Management and Product Stewardship.
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