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PFMEA stands for Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis. It's an analytical process used by businesses to locate and identify possible process failures. This includes, but is not limited to, evaluating equipment, systems, and personnel processes. These include all processes that need to be followed on some basis and can vary from daily to irregularly.
FMEA stands for Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, which might seem very similar to PFMEA. The main difference is FMEA looks at potential failure modes in systems, such as operations management and product development. PFMEA works in a similar way but encompasses all processes in a business.
There are multiple benefits of using PFMEA. Many of these benefits center around alleviating risk in different ways. Perhaps the primary benefit of using this analysis method is that a great PFMEA works with the company it's been created for throughout the life cycle of the particular project it's assigned to.
In essence, it’s a living company document existing solely to reduce risk. How is this accomplished?
At first glance, the amount of effort needed to set up another system in a company may look like it’s not worth the time. However, like most analysis systems, a great PFMEA can be broken down into the following six steps.
The first step is to form a cross-functional team. This team should be designed specifically to carry out the PFMEA. It’s also good if they're able to schedule dedicated time to accomplish this. In some companies, this may be a must-have in order to complete the analysis.
It's important to define the goals of this PFMEA. Some questions to consider at this stage of the process include:
At this stage in the process, it’s good to set these goals down in writing and to make them as final as possible. This makes step three much easier in the long run.
The system of process mapping is a different subject, but the basic idea is simple. It’s a visual representation of the work needing to be done. Completing a process map for your PFMEA in progress is an important step to a smooth analysis.
An RPN (risk priority number) is a calculation to determine company risks in order of highest to lowest priority. The next step in the PFMEA process is to calculate the RPNs for all processes that need checking.
This is to make sure tasks are assigned appropriately across your team members, and that your process mapping will be followed.
Assign tasks to each team member for when, where, and how they'll check maintenance on the systems. If these tasks are not flowing out of your goals and process map, this is the time to make adjustments to your foundational documents before you go further.
Finally, the team leader needs to ensure tasks get done and rotate the schedule to whoever is most qualified. In addition, he or she updates the PFMEA and adjusts the entire process as needed.
Ideally, the cycle repeats starting at this point. However, this is the point when many teams are ready to finish the analysis and move on to other things. That temptation becomes stronger when leadership thinks the work is over.
What do PFMEA processes take into account for the long term and life cycle of a company?
PFMEA can be compared to a well-run janitorial system in a school. It’s not easily seen, and it’s easy to forget how much these systems do for personnel and users (students in the example, customers of the company in reality) every day.
Here are five factors a well-run PFMEA takes into account when considering the chance of a system, process, or other integral part of your company failing.
Let’s take a look at each one of these and how to determine them.
Severity asks the following questions:
Another factor identified by PFMEA is detection. It asks the following questions:
Next, PFMEA takes into account occurrence and frequency of a failure and asks:
PFMEA also looks at safety. Some questions to ask when considering safety:
With that information collected, a risk priority number can be calculated for each process.
The lower the RPN, the better!
Once you've created your first PFMEA, it may be hard to start the second one or to revitalize the first. Here are some tips on how to do that.
PFMEAs can be difficult to lead from time to time. One way to streamline the process is to only choose team leaders who have experience with the systems and processes in question. Since they already know what they're analyzing, they're more capable of delegating the work.
This prevents leadership from having to get involved in multiple pieces of the process. An experienced team leader is better equipped to do the job and to save everyone time.
However, the old saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link is true when it’s applied to PFMEA plans. Even the best team leaders have trouble when they have to teach their teammates from the ground up.
In order to prevent these blocks to the company’s progress, only assign tasks to people who are educated in the process, system, or asset in question.
This is important because it provides two checkpoints to keep the team’s goals realistic. The first one is making sure you've scheduled enough time to reach your goals. The second one is making sure the team in question is not lagging behind.
For increased productivity, always ask people who are most involved with the processes you're analyzing. Their input may enable your team to improve before you even start implementing your new plan.
With all this information under your belt, you're ready to start updating what you currently have. While this may seem overwhelming, it's generally easier to update existing PFMEAs than create new ones from scratch.
After an understanding of a particular process comes the harder part: moving forward. PFMEA is no different. This is simply an overview of what it is and how it can protect you and your business.
A well-built PFMEA should be only part of your overall maintenance strategy and plans. To learn more about maintaining your equipment to the best of your ability, visit our Maintenance Resource Hub and see what other parts of the maintenance puzzle you’ll need.