Lessons Learned and the FMEA

We addressed the issue of the modular FMEA in a previous blog. We also suggest that the FMEA in its various guises is also a great place to capture lessons learned. In the medical, aerospace, automotive, and food industries, some kind of FMEA is a required document. Since we already must create these documents, why not leverage our work into a tool for capturing everything we have seen happen to a specific module. For example, with gauge-driving stepper motors, we could capture all failure modes seen to date. Every time a new failure mode we didn’t anticipate occurs, we can update the modular FMEA so we don’t lose the knowledge we should have gained from this negative experience—not to mention, we pull something positive out our impromptu and unexpected investment in fixing the problem

We can also apply this approach to services. We have rarely seen a service FMEA mentioned in the literature, but we see no reason why most services cannot be treated in much the same way as a Process FMEA, a common document in manufacturing. Once again, we should be able to capture lessons learned in our service FMEA.

The last thing we need to do with these documents is to pull them out and review them on a regular basis, especially with new employees who have no history with the products. By so doing, we add more value from our FMEAs by using them as a form of defect prevention program.

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