Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is a name given to a group of activities, which are performed to ensure that all that could possibly go wrong with a product have been identified and appropriate actions have been taken to either prevent undesirable failures or prevent the consequences of both probabilistic and deterministic failures.
In the 1960s, for the space programs (especially for the program of landing on moon), engineers were faced with the staggering consequences of potential failures that might happen to a spacecraft. Hence they created a method of forecasting all possible problems that might happen with the components used in a spacecraft. They thought beyond the normal design considerations. They imagined all the bizarre situations that can possible take place. They got together for extended and concentrated brain storming sessions to identify or recognise all such bizarre situations that might happen. even if the probability of such incidences may be ridiculously low. However, the result of this approach was a resounding success. Man landed on moon in 1969, without a problem.
But after 1969, interest in space program dwindled. As a result many engineers of NASA moved to traditional industries for their living. They carried with them their now famous and celebrated failure forecasting technique. This technique eventually came to be known as FMEA. In 1972, NAAO, a Quality Assurance organization, developed the original reliability training program, which included a module on the execution of FMEA.
Although good engineers have always performed FMEA type of analysis on their designs, most of their efforts were documented only in the form of their final parts and assembly drawings. However, repetition of past mistakes were open to possibilities. The most important reason seemed to be — people leaving the company and were unavailable to check on the new designs or unable to provide on-going education and guidance to new recruits.
This created a big problem for most industries. This was mainly because of stringent liability insurance issues besieging the companies involved in product design, development and marketing. Companies then began to address the issue with all seriousness. For example, in the 1970s, automotive industries took up FMEA as a natural tool to reduce the occurrence of failures.
Since that time, the discipline of FMEA has been spreading among the multibillion dollar companies. In turn, these large companies have been pressing their suppliers to adopt FMEA to improve the reliability of their products during the design stage of product development.
Hence, it may be stated that FMEA is a design tool aimed at reducing failures to the minimum possible level.
Keywords: FMEA, Failures, Consequences, Tool, Reliability, Design,