How to do a FMEA Step-by-step with Example


Knowing how to face challenges is essential to achieve success in any business. In order to prevent situations that are a threat to any of the business processes, it is important to have tools that help to make the correct decisions and necessary measures in case a problem arises. FMEA is a method that helps prevent failures or risks in order to combat them before they happen.

We understand by failures any type of error or defect that may affect both the client and the company. These faults can be possible and real, and an analysis of the causes is necessary.

The FMEA method, also called Failure Mode and Effect Analysis, It was developed in the United States in the late 1940s by the nuclear and aerospace industry, specifically by NASA. Currently it continues to be one of the most effective tools to reduce failures and prevent problems from the design, allowing you to prioritize tasks and enable strategic controls on time.

Processes can fail at any time and that is why it is important to identify where the potential problems or possible errors are, so you can create strategies to prevent them. In this article we will tell you how to do a FMEA step by step that can help you anticipate any failure in your processes; We will also show you an example of FMEA applied so that you know how to use it in your business.

What is an FMEA for?

The FMEA method serves to prevent situations that put at risk the design and processes of products or services of an organization, so you can establish detection measures that will prevent these situations from happening or advancing.

This tool is very useful to minimize risks and potential failures that can generate waste, defects or harmful consequences for customers. The analysis of these failures is designed to identify, prioritize and limit these problems. The application of this method brings the following concrete benefits:

  • Improve the quality of products and services.
  • Increase customer satisfaction.
  • Mitigates potential risks in product and service design and processes.
  • Generate low-cost solutions.
  • Optimize process performance.
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For these reasons, the FMEA methodology serves to avoid dire consequences due to inadequate performance in business processes.

1. Design FMEA

This type of method is implemented in the product design as a prevention procedure to detect any problem or failure. It allows to anticipate a solution as a forecasting method for any unforeseen event. It explores the possibility of a product malfunction that can be derived from various factors from its inception.

When to implement a design FMEA

  • When you are designing a new product or service.
  • When you are redesigning an existing product or service.

2. FMEA of processes

This type of FMEA is used to detect problems in production processes in order to prevent any difficulties that may arise for workers who are involved in a process. Thanks to this methodology, it is possible to discover failures that affect the quality of products or services, customer dissatisfaction and the safety effects for employees derived from the processes.

When to implement a process FMEA

  • Before developing control plans for a new or modified process.
  • When planning the strategies for a process.
  • To analyze failures of an existing process.
  • During any manufacturing or assembly production process.

3. FMEA of systems

This method is applied to software and allows to analyze and prevent any problems related to these technological systems. In this way, it is possible to act before a failure occurs and allows maintenance to be carried out on time.

When to implement a systems FMEA

  • When functions are carried out in software.
  • When user interface maintenance is performed.

The methodology to carry out a FMEA method varies depending on each organization, despite the fact that the process is based on the same principles. Quality and reliability must be continuously improved and reviewed to achieve the best results. For this example of how to make a FMEA we have selected the processes that are carried out in a restaurant. Here are the steps to perform FMEA applied to this example:

1. Select a process

We will do an analysis of the process that takes place in a restaurant from the reception of the client until he is taken to his assigned table. For this it is important to generate a diagram of the steps that this service covers.

2. Assemble the specialized team

Create a work team of professionals who have specialized knowledge about the processes, the product or service and the needs of the clients. Once the team is assembled, it will be essential to create a checklist that can concentrate the documents that contain information on previous failures, the process flows, as well as the characteristics of the products and services.

3. Identify the flaws and their scope

At this point, it is important to know what are the expectations of the product, service, process or system that are had by the clients and the company, as well as consider what is the magnitude of the failures in case they happen.

  • First determine what can go wrong in one of the stages; For example, at the registration stage there may be an error in the assignment of customer preferences and a table may be awarded in an area that is not to your liking.
  • Assesses what could be the consequence or effect of this failure, that is, within the degree of customer dissatisfaction, what could be the consequences of this failure in the process.
  • Assign a severity number for said failure: it will allow you to timely follow up on actions.

4. Identify the causes of failure

Once the effects of the failures have been identified, it is time to do the following:

  • Ask yourself what may be the causes of this error, be it a glitch in the registration software or a human mistake.
  • Assign a number according to the level of occurrence of this problem.
  • It classifies the level of the frequency with which they occur or the ease with which they can be detected. This will allow you to take preventive actions starting with those that have a higher degree of priority.
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5. Locate prevention controls

Once you have identified the causes of the problem, it is important to recognize:

  • What are the current prevention controls that are in place to avoid it, if any exist.
  • If there is not, then it is important to mention it. This will later serve to create new opportunities for improvement in the process.
  • Assign a number according to the degree of detection of each fault.

6. Calculate the NPR

The Risk Priority Number (PRN) is the value that establishes the priority of the failures or problems through the multiplication of the values ​​assigned to the degree of occurrence of the failures, their severity and their detection. The result obtained determines the priority with which the problems that have been identified must be addressed.

7. Detects the level of risk of failure

According to the results obtained, you can locate the level of risk of the failures that you have identified to establish the priority:

8. Execute preventive and corrective actions

If there is no established control to prevent failures, it is important to propose a specific action that helps reduce risks and take appropriate actions to avoid these failures in the process. For it:

    • It establishes the necessary tests, procedures or mechanisms that allow these failures to be avoided or reduce the possibility of their occurrence, even before they reach the customer.
    • Execute the preventive and corrective actions that you have proposed and that help you eliminate or prevent localized failures in the processes. Once you have executed the actions, recalculate the risks to verify that they have been permanently eliminated or if it is necessary to assign other actions.
    • Manager
    • Receptionist / Hostess

Now that you have all the necessary elements to use this tool, start implementing it in your company and observe the improvements it provides to the performance of all your processes.

Jerry Gordon

About Jerry Gordon

Webmaster, nature and tech lover. Jerry manages the day-to-day operations at DigiToolsadvisor. He loves enjoying his free time, but most of all, trying new tools to master.