Quality improvement is a systematic process aimed at fulfilling customer expectations. While there might be various theoretical interpretations, in simplicity, we can designate customer satisfaction as the main goal of quality management systems and quality improvement projects. The true extent of costs associated with poor quality often remains hidden.
To identify and eliminate these deficiencies, as well as to achieve the full potential of a company, quality improvement projects utilize tools such as:
- Quality Function Deployment (QFD)
- Statistical Process Control (SPC)
- Measurement System Analysis (MSA)
- Design of Experiments (DOE)
- Continuous Improvement (Kaizen, PDCA)
- Six Sigma (DMAIC)
- Design for Six Sigma (DMADV)
If we don’t pay sufficient attention to quality and fail to act preventively, seemingly small errors can later lead to serious consequences, ranging from high costs of poor quality products to even jeopardizing the existence of the company. An effective tool that helps us behave preventively rather than reactively is the Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) methodology.
Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA)
The subject of FMEA is the analysis of errors, their consequences, and causes with the aim of proposing corrective actions that eliminate existing or potential errors. Every overlooked error can later be associated with high costs.
FMEA can be applied not only to manufacturing processes and products but also to services, financial, social, and other processes. The result of FMEA is the adoption of effective corrective actions that reduce the risk associated with the occurrence of errors. The assigned risk number interrelates the significance of the error, the probability of its occurrence, and the probability of its detection. This allows for a comparison of individual errors and focuses on the causes that lead to error occurrence. In early June 2019, a new standard – the Handbook of Harmonized FMEA – was released, which incorporates best practices from AIAG and VDA handbooks.
Formally, FMEA and related methods are divided into categories:
- Design FMEA
- Process FMEA
- Reverse FMEA
- DRBFM (Design Review Based on Failure Mode)
Apart from the formal divisions according to the IATF, we also do:
- Project FMEA
- FMEA for Administrative Processes
- FMEA for Continuous Production
Improvement of internal quality for the supplier
Customer: Supplier of components for the automotive industry
Problem/Opportunity: Internal part quality issues due to poor surface flatness (high waste and rework rate)
Used methods and tools: Improvement process – DMAIC; Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA); Box-plot; Part topology; Hypothesis testing; Control charts
Achieved improvements: Reduction of scrap due to poor flatness by 79.8%
Reduction of scrap rate and acceleration of production times at the supplier of parts for the automotive industry.
Customer: Supplier of parts for the automotive industry.
Problem/Opportunity: Increase in the percentage of part rejections due to variability and alignment issues.
Used methods and tools: Improvement process – DMAIC; Multivariate analysis; Box-plot analysis; Histogram; Cause and effect analysis; SCAMPER.
Achieved improvements: Reduction of scrap rate to 24.1% from the original pre-project level, acceleration of heat treatment production times by 30.9%.
Reduction of scrap rate at the compressor manufacturer.
Customer: Compressor manufacturer
Problem/Opportunity: High scrap rate of rotors due to inadequate circularity.
Used methods and tools: Improvement process steps: DMAIC; Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA); Static process model; Process description and analysis (Flowchart); 5 Whys; Ishikawa diagram; Pareto diagram; Best of the Best & Worst of the Worst (BoB and WoW); FMEA analysis.
Achieved improvements: Reduction of scrap rate by 83.7%.
Project application of FMEA methodology
The FMEA methodology and its component PFMEA are a preventive method for avoiding issues in serial production, following the Slovak proverb “Measure twice and cut once.”
The automotive industry has rich experience with repeated launches of new vehicles or their facelifts. These often require significant changes and interventions in existing processes. However, in complex processes, even a small change can lead to significant disruptions for assembly lines that are also used for other products.
Thanks to skilled facilitation during FMEA workshops conducted at our customers’ facilities as part of new model launches and facelift projects, we have achieved:
- minimizing the occurrence of non-ergonomic operator positions during assembly
- avoiding potential collisions with newly deployed manipulators
- preventing mix-ups or damages to parts
- mitigating the risk of financial and reputational losses