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“UpKeep revealed we had an overage in inventory and lets us make more cost-effective decisions. It was literally the difference between $1.4 million in parts versus $500,000.”
National Reliability Manager at Rehrig
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Answered September 26 2019
Every business and industry has its own set of acronyms and the maintenance industry is no different. One acronym that most people are unfamiliar with is PFMA. However, this analysis process can be a powerful tool in many maintenance plans.
What does PFMA stand for? How does it work? And what are some of the benefits of implementing it into your company’s maintenance plans? We answer these questions and more in this article.
PFMEA stands for Process Failure Modes and Effects Analysis. It is 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 processes include all processes that need to be followed on some basis and can vary from daily to irregularity.
FMEA stands for Failure Mode Effects Analysis, which seems to be very similar to PFMEA. The main difference is that 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 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 has been created for throughout the life cycle of the particular project it is assigned to.
In essence, it’s a living company document that exists 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 it would take. 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 are able to schedule in dedicated time to accomplish this. In some companies, this may be a must in order to complete this analysis.
It is 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 can be reasonably be done. 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 that needs 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 of company risks in order of highest to lowest priority. The next step in this process is to calculate the RPNs for all processes that need checking.
This is to make sure that 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 will 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 make sure 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. Realistically, 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 just 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 that a well-run PFMEA takes into account when considering the chance of a system, process, or another 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 occurance 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 have 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 are analyzing, they are more capable of delegating the work.
This prevents leadership from having to get involved on 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 very true when it’s applied to PFMEA plans. The best of 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 that you have scheduled enough time to reach your goals. The second one is making sure that the team in question is not lagging behind.
For increased productivity, always ask people who are most involved with the processes you are 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 are ready to start updating what you currently have. While this may seem overwhelming, it is 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 UpKeep Learning Center and see what other parts of the maintenance puzzle you’ll need.
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