FMEA is a qualitative reasoning approach best suited for reviews of mechanical and electrical hardware systems. The FMEA technique (1) considers how the failure modes of each system component can result in system performance problems and (2) ensures that appropriate safeguards against such problems are in place. A quantitative version of FMEA is known as failure modes, effects, and criticality analysis (FMECA).
Brief summary of characteristics
Most common uses
Limitations of FMEA
Although the FMEA methodology is highly effective in analyzing various system failure modes, this technique has four limitations:
Examination of human error is limited. A traditional FMEA uses potential equipment failures as the basis for the analysis. All of the questions focus on how equipment functional failures can occur. A typical FMEA addresses potential human errors only to the extent that human errors produce equipment failures of interest. Misoperations that do not cause equipment failures are often overlooked in an FMEA.
Focus is on single-event initiators of problems. A traditional FMEA tries to predict the potential effects of specific equipment failures. These equipment failures are generally analyzed one by one, which means that important combinations of equipment failures may be overlooked.
Examination of external influences is limited. A typical FMEA addresses potential external influences (environmental conditions, system contamination, external impacts, etc.) only to the extent that these events produce equipment failures of interest. External influences that directly affect vessel safety, port safety, and crew safety are often overlooked in an FMEA if they do not cause equipment failures.
Results are dependent on the mode of operation. The effects of certain equipment failure modes often vary widely, depending on the mode of system operation. For example, the steering system on a vessel is of little importance while the vessel is docked and is unloading cargo. A single FMEA generally accounts for possible effects of equipment failures only during one mode of operation or a few closely related modes of operation. More than one FMEA may, therefore, be necessary for a system that has multiple modes of operation.
Source: USCG Risk-based Decision-making (RBDM) Guidelines.
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