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The Best Place for FMEA Focus

Tips For Effective Design FMEAs

No one really wants to generate hundreds of pages of output when generating a
FMEA report and even if they did, few would ever read it or make full use of all this
information.  Although some customers or contracts may require you to
perform a
Failure Mode Effects Analysis that covers every fine detail of your design, in most
cases this would not be the best use of your time. In fact, you could waste a lot of
time on parts of your system that have little or no effect on the overall functionality if
they failed, and your limited resources could have been better spent looking at
areas of your design that pose a much higher risk.
Good Areas to Focus When Performing a FMEA:

  • New hardware or functionality should be analyzed.

  • Look at any modifications to your existing design.

  • Any equipment that is being used for a different purpose or in a different
    environment than it was originally intended (e.g. a new application of existing
    technology).

  • A brand new design or new technology.

  • Anything with a history of significant field problems.

  • Wherever there may be safety concerns.
As a general rule, a great question to ask your designers, system engineers or
other members of the team:  "What concerns you most about the design?" Listen to
the answers and then make sure that your FMEA effort covers these areas. The
bottom-line is that FMEAs or FMECAs cost time and money and your limited
resources should be focused where you anticipate the highest risk.
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osprey aircraft
So, where is the best place to focus
your time and energy when performing
a FMEA? While not everyone may
agree, and there are probably other
things that could be added to the list,
here are some good areas to focus
when performing a
design FMEA. Again,
the goal is to not just do a bunch of
busy work and complete the task, but
instead, to spend our limited resources
where we can get the biggest bang for
the buck, and influence our design so
that it becomes much more robust.
MV-22B Osprey (U.S. Marine Corps photo by
Cpl. Matthew Callahan)

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