FMEA methods help to identify, investigate and effectively prevent quality problems, defects, design, fabrication and material defects in all processes and production phases. With QM and risk management, strategic company goals are concretized and implemented as sustainable FMEA measures (detection and avoidance measures) to increase and ensure quality. Regular FMEA training is one of the important FMEA measures.
Goals and Application Areas of FMEA
An FMEA such as AIAG FMEA (AIAG = Automotive Industry Action Group) identifies and prevents potential errors during production and in manufactured products. The FMEA goals are to identify weak points and errors in all processes, to increase process efficiency and reliability, and to identify and evaluate risks. The main goal of FMEA is the so important prevention of errors. Therefore FMEA measures are important, which not only effectively prevent the recurrence of a failure, but also lead to and initiate the necessary improvements and optimizations.
Errors can occur in different production phases and areas. Therefore FMEA is used in all phases relevant to product quality - from conception and design through planning, development and engineering to production, assembly and delivery. Errors can also occur during transport or during repair, maintenance and servicing. These areas are also relevant for FMEA. In order to identify and prevent errors in good time, it is important to examine the entire production and logistics chain for errors using standardized FMEA methods and to take the necessary corrective and optimization measures.
In a company, the FMEA methods are managed by the employees responsible for QM, risk management and quality assurance. The execution of an FMEA includes the following points:
- Structural analysis
- Selection of the system elements to be examined
- Error analysis
- Risk assessment based on the parameters probability of occurrence (A), significance (B), probability of detection (E)
- Corrective actions
In an FMEA training course, these tasks are approached in detail.
FMEA methods of the automotive industry
The evaluated methods of error management such as AIAG FMEA have become established in various industry-specific norms, guidelines and standards. It is a current task of the industry to align these isolated standards - i.e. to coordinate, consolidate, update, merge and unify them. The demands on quality, reliability and safety are particularly high in the automotive industry. In order to improve quality and avoid errors, the automotive industry uses industry-specific guidelines, QM methods, special FMEA software and concrete FMEA training courses to ensure quality.
FMEA standards from AIAG/VDA
The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) published a joint FMEA standard in May 2019. AIAG FMEA and VDA FMEA thus resulted in an aligned, cross-national FMEA standard for fault prevention and risk analysis in the automotive industry. VDA and AIAG have published the new standard in an FMEA manual. Based on this released manual and the corresponding guidelines, FMEA training for manufacturers, suppliers, OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and auditors is possible. The FMEA courses, seminars, trainings and events are conducted by the VDA Quality Management Center (VDA QMC), AIAG and certified partner companies worldwide.
Alignment of VDA FMEA and AIAG FMEA
Globalization and internationalization affect the automotive industry to a special degree. Not only technical standards must be valid across countries. The methods of quality assurance and the quality standards used are also checked for consistency, consolidated and standardized. The publication of the new AIAG/VDA FMEA standard takes necessary measures to eliminate different, sometimes contradictory specifications and requirements of the old VDA FMEA and AIAG FMEA standards and leads to their harmonization in the new common standard. The alignment puts the evaluated QM methods and practices of the automotive industry on a common basis. The new FMEA standard replaces the old FMEA standards such as SAE J1739 (2015) and SAE RB9 (2017) as well as the old VDA FMEA and AIAG FMEA.
In accordance with the new AIAG/VDA guidelines, FMEA is no longer regarded as a series of additional process-accompanying QM measures, but is already integrated into all production processes from design to delivery. The FMEA business process is uniformly mapped and equipped with tools based on FMEA software. The common guidelines of the new AIAG/VDA FMEA standard apply to the FMEA methods and the FMEA software used. The aim of VDA FMEA and AIAG FMEA alignment is to perform a complete FMEA according to the same uniform guidelines and to create a high level of quality based on the same international FMEA standard. FMEA alignment is a central topic of current FMEA training.
7 steps of the AIAG/VDA FMEA
A distinction is made between the old 5-step FMEA and the 7-step FMEA according to the new AIAG/VDA FMEA manual. The new 7-step procedure model includes the following stages:
- Delimitation of the system / system element / area / process to be considered (scoping)
- Structural analysis of the element under consideration (system, construction / design, process)
- Assignment of functions to the system element (functional analysis)
- Identification of causes, effects and correlations (error analysis)
- Risk analysis and risk assessment (measure analysis of the actual state)
- Optimization and improvement (change measures target state)
- Documentation and presentation of FMEA results "actual vs. target" (from steps 1 to 6; basis for decisions)
- Advantages of special FMEA software when performing an FMEA
A software specialized for FMEA knows the procedure, steps, tasks, objectives and methods as well as the basic valid standards, guidelines and requirements of an FMEA analysis. The software actively supports the responsible QM staff and makes an FMEA analysis better, faster and more efficient than they could do it manually. With FMEA software, the quality of an FMEA analysis is improved so that FMEA tasks are no longer limited to the formal completion of forms, tables and questionnaires. FMEA software is used to collect and analyze data, document the defects identified in the processes and communicate the results to the responsible departments in a clear and presentable form (as graphs, diagrams, tables, reports).
An FMEA software saves effort, costs and time, solves FMEA tasks automatically, quickly and intelligently, improves the FMEA-own processes and thus contributes to the prevention of errors and improvement of production processes and product quality. The FMEA software must know the current FMEA standard used in the company and be suitable for or specialized in the respective industry. The FMEA software must be flexible and configurable in order to cover all specific needs of the company and meet the expectations of quality assurance. The flexibility of the software is characterized by the fact that individual solutions are also possible.
During troubleshooting, the software knows the typical sources of errors, checks the data for consistency, performs correct data processing and delivers correct FMEA results. The software increases motivation, supports creative work of the QM personnel and helps to increase product quality.
It is important to carry out FMEA investigations correctly and in accordance with current FMEA guidelines. To ensure that the responsible employees apply the current AIAG/VDA methods correctly and in accordance with standards in their FMEA analysis and present the correct results before making a decision, FMEA training for harmonized AIAG/VDA FMEA is required. During the FMEA training course, the participants receive important information about the new features of the harmonized AIAG/VDA FMEA standard and improve their QM knowledge. The FMEA training offers each participant the opportunity to completely clarify open FMEA questions and to receive a qualified expert answer from the trainer. After the FMEA training, this knowledge can be applied in a practice-oriented and correct manner during FMEA analysis in the company. An FMEA training is suitable for improving the quality assurance of a company and also for the renewal (re-certification) of DIN EN ISO 9001 certificates.
Importance of FMEA
The FMEA method offers much more than just a procedure for FMEA analysis. The method is particularly suitable for the manufacture of safety-critical products such as vehicles and car parts in the automotive industry, where increased demands are placed on safety, reliability and quality management. FMEA intervenes in all phases and processes of the entire production chain and has to continuously improve itself. Therefore the use of up-to-date industry-specific FMEA software and regular FMEA training are very important.
AIAG & VDA Failure Mode and Effects Analysis - FMEA Handbook, ISBN 978-1605343679 (2019)
PDF: Der neue Standard zur Risikoanalyse in der automobilen Lieferkette vda-qmc.de
VDA QMC - Aus- und Weiterbildungsprogramm im Qualitätsmanagement 2020 vda-qmc.de