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Identifying Potential Failures Early in the Design

Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is an analysis technique
that facilitates the identification of potential design problems by examining the
effects of lower level failures on system operation. It can be used to analyze the
hardware, functions, interfaces or any other aspects associated with the design.
The intent of this type of FMEA analysis is to focus on improving the design
itself, as opposed to looking at or analyzing the manufacturing process.

Design FMEAs should be scheduled and completed concurrently as an integral
part of the design process. Ideally, this analysis should begin early in the
conceptual phase of a design, when the design criteria, mission requirements
and performance parameters are first being developed. To be the most
effective, the final design should reflect and incorporate the analysis results and

Even though it is recommended that the FMEA be performed early-on in the
design process, it is not uncommon to also use FMEA after a system is built. In
this case, a design FMEA can be helpful in order to assess existing risks using
this same systematic approach. The results or recommendations can lead to a
prioritized list of enhancements that would be considered for future designs.
Below is a sample timeline from Mil-Std-1629A, which is common when
performing a FMEA or FMECA on military programs.
rocket launch
FMEA Timeline
The analysis team can use either a qualitative or quantitative approach when
performing the Design FMEA, and the assessment criteria and outputs can be
tailored to meet your customer's needs. The FMEA team can also use either a
top's down approach or a bottom-up approach depending on what works best
for them. The diagram below depicts both of these approaches.
FMEA Approaches
This page is meant to merely introduce you to the concept of Design FMEA.
For detailed examples and a more in-depth discussion on this topic, please
take advantage of some of the resources on our
FMEA Examples page. Also, a
functional FMEA approach can be very effective for evaluating designs.
fmea fmeca

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