One method to achieve this is through Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and its extension, Failure Mode, Effects, and Criticality Analysis (FMECA). By systematically identifying potential failure modes and their effects before they occur, FMEA and FMECA provide a structured approach to mitigate risks and enhance maintenance strategies.

Difference Between FMEA and FMECA

FMEA – Failure Mode and Effects Analysis

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a proactive approach to identify and prioritize potential failure modes in a system, product, or process. It involves evaluating the severity, occurrence, and detectability of each failure mode to determine its impact and likelihood of occurrence. By analyzing these factors, organizations can focus their efforts on addressing high-risk areas before they escalate into costly issues.

FMECA – Failure Mode, Effects, and Criticality Analysis

Building upon FMEA, Failure Mode, Effects, and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) adds an additional dimension by incorporating criticality into the analysis. In addition to identifying failure modes and their effects, FMECA ranks them based on their criticality, considering factors such as safety, environmental impact, and regulatory compliance. This allows organizations to prioritize their maintenance efforts more effectively, focusing on mitigating the most critical risks first.

Performing an FMEA

Assemble cross-functional team

One of the initial steps in performing an FMEA is to assemble a cross-functional team comprising members from various departments such as design, manufacturing, quality, and field service. By bringing together diverse perspectives and expertise, the team can comprehensively assess potential failure modes and their implications across the entire lifecycle of the product or process.

Map out product/process steps

Once the team is assembled, the next step is to map out the steps of the product or process under analysis. This involves identifying inputs, outputs, and interfaces at each stage to gain a thorough understanding of the system’s functionality and potential failure points. By visualizing the workflow, the team can pinpoint areas where failures are most likely to occur and prioritize their analysis accordingly.

Brainstorm potential failure modes

With the process mapped out, the team engages in a brainstorming session to identify potential failure modes for each step. This involves considering various scenarios and circumstances that could lead to failures, ranging from mechanical breakdowns to human error or environmental factors. By exploring a wide range of possibilities, the team ensures comprehensive coverage of potential risks and vulnerabilities.

Analyze effects of each failure

Once potential failure modes are identified, the team analyzes the effects of each failure in terms of severity, occurrence, and detectability. Severity refers to the impact of the failure on the system, process, or end-user, while occurrence assesses the likelihood of the failure happening. Detectability evaluates the ease of detecting the failure before it causes significant harm or disruption. By systematically evaluating these factors, the team can prioritize their mitigation efforts based on the level of risk posed by each failure mode.

Transitioning to an FMECA

Rank failure modes by Risk Priority Number (RPN)

In transitioning from FMEA to FMECA, the team ranks the identified failure modes based on their Risk Priority Number (RPN). RPN is calculated by multiplying the severity, occurrence, and detectability scores assigned to each failure mode, resulting in a numerical value that represents the overall risk associated with that particular failure. By prioritizing failure modes based on their RPN, the team can focus their attention on addressing the most critical risks first, thereby maximizing the effectiveness of their maintenance efforts.

Prioritize issues based on RPN

Once the failure modes are ranked by RPN, the team prioritizes their mitigation efforts accordingly. This involves allocating resources and developing action plans to address the highest priority issues first, ensuring that critical risks are addressed in a timely and effective manner. By focusing on mitigating the most significant risks upfront, organizations can minimize the likelihood of costly failures and disruptions in their maintenance operations.

Using CMMS to Enhance FMEA/FMECA

Centralized failure mode data

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) can enhance the FMEA/FMECA process by providing a centralized platform for storing and managing failure mode data. By consolidating information in a single repository, CMMS enables easy access to historical data, facilitating trend analysis and continuous improvement efforts.

Automated RPN calculations

CMMS can also automate the calculation of Risk Priority Numbers (RPNs) based on predefined criteria, streamlining the analysis process and reducing the potential for human error. By automating repetitive tasks, CMMS frees up valuable time for maintenance professionals to focus on more strategic activities, such as root cause analysis and proactive maintenance planning.

Standardized analysis process

Furthermore, CMMS can standardize the FMEA/FMECA analysis process by providing templates, workflows, and best practices for conducting assessments. This ensures consistency and repeatability across different projects and teams, enhancing the reliability and validity of the results generated.

Reporting and analytics

Finally, CMMS offers robust reporting and analytics capabilities that enable organizations to track key performance indicators (KPIs), monitor trends, and identify areas for improvement. By leveraging real-time data and insights, organizations can make informed decisions about resource allocation, risk mitigation strategies, and long-term maintenance planning.


In conclusion, FMEA and FMECA provide a systematic and proactive approach to identify and mitigate potential failures in maintenance operations. By assembling cross-functional teams, mapping out processes, analyzing failure modes, and prioritizing mitigation efforts, organizations can minimize the risk of costly downtime and disruptions. Additionally, leveraging CMMS technology can enhance the effectiveness of FMEA/FMECA by centralizing data, automating calculations, standardizing processes, and providing actionable insights for continuous improvement. By adopting these methodologies and tools, organizations can optimize their maintenance strategies and ensure the reliability and performance of their assets.

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