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Facilitation is the Key to Successful FMEAs

By Robert Smith , October 19, 2017

The Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a versatile risk management tool that has been around for several decades, first used by the US Armed Forces in 1949. It started gaining popularity in the 1960’s with its use in the aerospace industry during the Apollo missions. FMEA has been called the “swiss army knife” of risk management. FMEA is focused on problem prevention, rather than problem solving. It is used to identify the factors that can lead to failure and recommend mitigation strategies to prevent failures or detect the early onset of failures.

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Need for FMEA

FMEA is a method designed to identify and understand potential failure modes, their causes, failure mechanisms, effects, and current preventive and detective controls. It is then designed to help assign a relative risk priority ranking, recommend actions to reduce or eliminate the associated risk, and verify results of these actions. Below is a typical FMEA Process Flow:

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FMEA is at the heart of several risk management processes, such as Design for Reliability (DfR), Hazard Analysis, Product Development, Process Improvement, and Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM), to name a few of the more common uses. FMEA is used in conjunction with other risk management tools, such as Process Flow Diagrams, Fault Tree Analysis, Five Whys Root Cause Analysis, and RCM to address issues. The FMEA process can become an invaluable risk management tool if the process is led by a skilled FMEA facilitator.

FMEA Facilitator – The Key to Successful Outcomes

The FMEA process is a cross-functional, team-based activity that has the potential to harness the passion and energy of the employees involved, if the effort is led by a skilled FMEA facilitator. FMEA teams need a person with strong team leadership and facilitation skills that has extensive experience with performing FMEAs.

What makes an effective FMEA facilitator? Facilitation is about providing structure, organization, and leadership to enable the team to do their best thinking and reach the best outcomes. A facilitator needs to lead the team through the process to achieve high-quality results that provide value-added actionable solutions that mitigate these risks. The FMEA facilitator is not a passive role. The facilitator must be confident and proactive in their approach. The facilitator is often a reliability or quality engineer that brings his or her own subject matter expertise when it comes to helping the team resolve risk and quality related problems.

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Active listening skills, understanding probing questions, conflict management, assertivenesss, and effective problem-solving skills are all critical competencies for an effective facilitator. The FMEA facilitator must be trained and experienced in the various methods of applying the FMEA process depending on the scope and objective of the analysis. The FMEA facilitator must also be a skilled trainer to ensure the team fully understands “failure” from the perspective of functions, failure modes, effects, causes, failure mechanisms, and controls.

In order to have a fully effective FMEA process, you need an experienced and skilled FMEA facilitator. Without this key role the FMEA process may never reach the most valuable outcomes and may not effectively resolve high-risk FMEA issues. CAI can help. Click below to contact Dan Miller, Global Director of Asset Management and Reliability.

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Topics: Asset Management and Reliability, Asset Performance Management, Risk-Based Approach, Maintenance