Skip to main content

FMEA: Your Continuous Improvement Crystal Ball

When businesses are looking for areas to improve, the use of a FMEA chart can often work wonders. In some respects it is a crystal ball to help you predict where failures can happen. This is about being proactive with your continuous improvement projects rather than trying to pick up the pieces when something goes wrong!


FMEA stands for Failure Mode and Effects Analysis.

Basically, it gets you to look at individual elements of a process so that you can think about where the process can 'fall over'. It can also be used for products; looking at which components will fail.



The image above (click to enlarge) shows an example FMEA worksheet you could use.

For each failure mode (of each element) that could fail you determine the potential effects and the related root cause(s).

Once this has been done you get to score each failure mode in terms of its:

  • Severity (how much damage it can cause should it happen)
  • Occurrence (how likely it is to happen)
  • Detection (how obvious it is when it does start to happen)

Each of the above is scored from 1 - 10, with 10 being the worst outcome.

All three scores are then multiplied to give you the Risk Priority Number (RPN).

The sheet is then sorted by the RPN value, from high to low.

The items at the top of this list are the ones to go to work on first.


If you haven't used the FMEA approach before it is certainly worth trying out; it may even help you to form your 2014 improvement plans.

Enjoy.


Giles Johnston
Author of 'Business Process Re-Engineering', a practical plan to improve business performance.

Popular posts from this blog

The Kaizen Checklist is here!

Do you want to get better results from your Kaizen programme? Improve your business results quickly with my downloadable kit (including guidebook, workbook and templates) for only $39. Are you looking for a sustainable way to identify and implement improvements across your business? Practical improvement strategies The Kaizen Checklist is a downloadable kit that you can use with your management team to develop a system that suits your business and allow you to quickly implement Kaizen effectively at your place of work. This works great if you use it as the centre piece of your own internal workshop. The kit includes a 40 page guidebook, a workbook, four appendices and three templates. All parts of this kit are designed to get you up and running as fast as possible. If you are unfamiliar with Kaizen, let me stress that this is a simple improvement philosophy that is so much more than just  ‘a Japanese word for continuous improvement’. I’ll cover what it rea

Take the pressure off! Using the Y-curve with your Kaizen improvements

Do you feel under pressure when you have to make changes happen in your business? It can be scary when we try something that we have never done before. I remember thinking to myself 'how on Earth am I going to figure this out?' on many occasions. I think the last time was a few weeks ago! Years on from becoming reasonable at the art of change I am still faced with the same dilemma. It is scary and it is clear to me why so many people shy away from making change happen. It is natural to get stuck in this oscillation. On one hand you need to make change happen; the business needs the improvement benefits. On the other hand you don't want to screw up... Last week I was talking to a young engineer that I am mentoring. He was paralysed. Changes were not happening at all. There was always some early promise with his projects and then, as completion (and judgement day) loomed, progress would evaporate. The engineer asked me for my views on this  during a recent conversati

Kamishibai Boards

Available to purchase here. Some tools are incredibly simple to use, and also deliver some amazing results. Kamishibai boards are a great example and are superb when you want some visual control over routine tasks. By the way Kamishibai is pronounced "come-e-she-bye" in case you were wondering! As simple as you could want it, a Kamishibai board is a T-card system that has red cards glued to green cards (so that each T-card has a red side and a green side). The red cards are for the incomplete tasks, where as the green cards symbolise that the work has been done. See the photo below of a board in use. On the red side of the card you write the name of the task that needs to be completed, and if appropriate you can include details of how the task is to be completed. This is not expected to replace standard operating procedures, but can be a good opportunity for an aide memoire. The boards can be organised for daily, weekly and even monthly cycles. They are g