Did you know that early FMEA standards did not include recommendations to reduce risk? They limited the analysis to the technical risk, without making specific recommendations. The first time I am aware of that an FMEA standard added a column called “Recommended Actions” was in 1993. Thankfully, it is common practice today to include Recommended Actions in FMEAs.
But what makes for excellent Recommended Actions and what is their role in an FMEA? We’ll begin with the fundamentals.
What are FMEA Recommended Actions?
By definition, in an FMEA, Recommended Actions are the tasks recommended by the FMEA team that can be performed to reduce or eliminate the risk associated with potential cause of failure.
I’ve written two articles on the subject of FMEA Recommended Actions that are part of the FMEA Fundamentals Series. Any review should begin by reading these articles.
Why do FMEAs need to identify recommendations?
The short answer is the risk associated with the identified failure modes, effect and causes must be reduced to an acceptable level. That is what effective FMEAs should do.
What are qualities of excellent Recommended Actions?
There are at least three:
1. In most cases, when risk is high for a given failure mode and cause, multiple recommendations are needed: one to reduce the Severity risk, if possible; at least one to reduce the Occurrence risk, and possibly one to reduce risk associate with Detection.
Here are three articles on reducing Severity, Occurrence and Detection risk:
2. Recommended Actions need to be clear and specific. Examples are included in the above article, “Understanding FMEA Recommended Actions.”
3. Recommended Actions need to fix the cause and reduce the risk associated with the failure mode, effect and cause to an acceptable level. This is essential.
What are common mistakes when identifying Recommended Actions?
1. The most common mistake is to believe that because there is an entry in the Recommended Actions column, somehow that fulfills the requirement. FMEA is not an exercise in filling out a form. It is a team exercise that analyzes designs or processes, identifies risk, and takes positive action to reduce risk.
2. Another common mistake is to believe that a single action will adequately reduce risk. As covered above, multiple actions are usually needed to reduce high risk.
3. Some FMEA teams miss the opportunity to reduce Severity, Occurrence and Detection risk, all three.
Effective FMEAs use multiple well thought-out recommendations to reduce Severity, Occurrence and Detection risk to acceptable levels for all higher risk issues. This is a goal worth achieving.
The next article take up the subject of Quantitative Criticality Analysis that is used in MIL-STD 1629A. I’ll share when and why it is used, and answer the question if this technique can be used in commercial applications?