What Is The Difference Between FMEA & RCFA?
Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a methodology aimed at anticipating equipment failure by proactively identifying all potential failure modes of the various parts of a system. It identifies the effects the failures can have on the system and provides a maintenance strategy to avoid the failure and/or mitigate the effects of the failure on the system. Conversely, Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA) is the process for pinpointing the root cause(s) of a specific failure to determine what corrective action(s) must be implemented to alleviate or reduce the probability that the problem will recur due to the same root cause(s).
FMEA – Failure Modes and Effects Analysis
FMEA focuses on identifying failure modes existing within the structural design of an asset or system and how those failure modes effect operations. A failure mode is the way a system, process, or piece of equipment can fail. The more complex the asset, the larger the number of failure modes.
Often, this analysis will also assess the criticality of the risk associated with the failure modes through the use of Failure Mode Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA). The difference between FMECA vs FMEA is that the latter incorporates criticality analysis with a more quantitative risk determination.
Asset failure is expensive, and the sooner a potential failure is uncovered, the less it will cost to remedy. The benefit of FMEA is it strives to identify all likely failure modes. By proactively discovering failures during development, FMEA offers lower costs solutions and more options for mitigating risk.
SAE J1739 provides a standard for FMEA and gives general guidance in the application of the methodology.
The Two Categories of FMEA
Design FMEA (DFMEA) is the systematic approach used in product development to improve quality and reduce potential risks of failure. As new products are designed, or existing designs are modified, design failures can be unintentionally introduced. Using DFMEA, potential failures are identified early in the process. Detecting failures before production leads to significant cost savings compared to countermeasures in later design phases.
Process FMEA (PFMEA) is the structured methodology used to discover potential failures within processes. Similar to DFMEA, PFMEA focuses instead on detecting failures caused by changes in a process as compared to a new or updated product design. A Process FMEA should be applied when:
- A new process or technology is launched
- A process is unchanged but introduced into a new operating environment
- A current process is modified or updated