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Navigating the Complex World of Asset Risk Analysis

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fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis
fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis asset risk analysis

FMECA (Failure Modes, Effects, and Criticality Analysis) is a methodical approach that organizations employ to evaluate the potential failure modes of critical assets and systems. This methodology goes beyond traditional Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) by incorporating criticality assessment, making it an invaluable tool for identifying, prioritizing, and mitigating potential failures.

To ensure optimal performance, longevity, and safety of assets, it is important to understand their potential failure modes, the consequences of those failures, and the criticality of each failure mode. FMECA offers a structured framework to achieve just that, helping organizations minimize downtime, reduce maintenance costs, enhance safety, and improve overall operational efficiency.

This article highlights how  CMMS software seamlessly integrates with FMECA, streamlining data management, work order scheduling, and preventive maintenance, ultimately enhancing the FMECA analysis process. This integration fosters greater efficiency and empowers organizations to make more informed decisions about asset maintenance and reliability.

Key Components of FMECA

fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis failure modes

1. Failure Modes

In FMECA, the term "failure modes" refers to the various ways in which an asset or system can malfunction or deviate from its intended function. These failure modes are classified and thoroughly analyzed to understand their causes and potential impacts.

fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis effects

2. Effects

The "effects" component involves a detailed examination of the consequences or outcomes that may result from each identified failure mode. These effects can range from safety hazards and environmental concerns to operational disruptions and financial implications.

fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis criticality

3. Criticality

Criticality assessment involves assigning a criticality score to each failure mode based on factors such as safety, environmental impact, operational downtime, and financial repercussions. The criticality score helps prioritize actions, ensuring that resources are directed toward mitigating the most critical issues first.


FMEA, or Failure Modes and Effects Analysis, is a systematic approach used to identify potential failure modes of a system, product, or process and assess the consequences or effects of those failures. FMEA primarily focuses on identifying and prioritizing failure modes based on their severity, occurrence, and detectability, resulting in a Risk Priority Number (RPN) for each failure mode. It is a valuable tool for risk assessment and mitigation.

The Key Differences Between FMECA and FMEA are:

  • Emphasis on Criticality in FMECA: In FMEA, the primary focus is identifying failure modes and their effects. While severity assessment is a critical component, it is often limited to evaluating the consequences of failure. FMECA, on the other hand, emphasizes the criticality of each failure mode. Criticality takes into account factors beyond just severity, such as the impact on safety, the environment, operational continuity, and financial aspects. This enhanced focus on criticality distinguishes FMECA from FMEA.
  • The Inclusion of Criticality Analysis in FMECA: While FMEA identifies potential failure modes and their effects, FMECA takes the analysis a step further by assigning criticality scores to each failure mode. This scoring process considers multiple factors to determine how critical a particular failure mode is to the overall system or operation. The inclusion of criticality assessment is a defining feature of FMECA.
  • Enhanced Risk Assessment in FMECA: FMEA primarily focuses on risk assessment based on severity, occurrence, and detectability. FMECA, however, provides an enhanced risk assessment. By factoring in criticality, it provides a more comprehensive evaluation of risk, allowing organizations to prioritize maintenance efforts based on the overall impact of a failure mode, including its potential consequences and broader implications.

When Should You Use FMEA vs. FMECA

  • FMEA: FMEA is appropriate when you need to identify potential failure modes and understand their effects on a system, product, or process. It is effective for assessing and prioritizing risks, with a focus on severity, occurrence, and detectability. Use FMEA when a basic risk assessment is required or when resources and time constraints are limited.
  • FMECA: FMECA should be used when a more comprehensive analysis is needed, especially in scenarios where failure modes may have significant safety, environmental, operational, or financial consequences. If the impact of a failure mode extends beyond just its direct effect, FMECA provides a more suitable framework for risk assessment and mitigation.


FMECA is a systematic and step-by-step process, beginning with identifying the asset or system under analysis. Once the scope is defined, the process unfolds as follows:

  • fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis system and component identification
    Step 1:

    System and Component Identification

    The first step in the FMECA process is clearly defining the scope of the analysis. This involves identifying the system, subsystems, and components under consideration. Defining the scope is important as it sets the boundaries for the analysis, ensuring that all relevant components and associated functions are included. It prevents both over- and under-analysis, allowing resources to be allocated effectively.

  • fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis failure modes identification
    Step 2:

    Failure Modes Identification

    During this step, analysts brainstorm and identify all potential failure modes that could occur within the defined scope. This involves considering all possible ways in which a component or system might fail. It's essential to examine all failure modes to ensure no critical issues are overlooked.

  • fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis effects analysis
    Step 3:

    Effects Analysis

    Once failure modes are identified, the next task is to assess the effects of these failures. Analysts consider how each failure mode would impact the system, process, safety, environment, and other critical aspects. This involves a detailed examination of each failure's immediate and downstream consequences.

    Severity assessment assigns a severity rating to each failure mode based on the potential impact of the failure. This rating helps prioritize failure modes and focus on those with the most significant consequences.

  • fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis criticality assessment
    Step 4:

    Criticality Assessment

    In this step, criteria are established to evaluate the criticality of each failure mode. Criteria may include safety impact, environmental impact, operational downtime, and financial consequences. By defining these criteria, organizations can assess the holistic criticality of a failure mode.

    Each failure mode is assigned a criticality score, often on a numerical scale. These scores are determined by evaluating the failure mode against the predefined criteria. Criticality scores help in ranking failure modes in order of importance and in prioritizing maintenance actions.

  • fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis risk prioritization
    Step 5:

    Risk Prioritization

    Criticality scores obtained in the previous step are used to prioritize maintenance and mitigation efforts. Failure modes with higher criticality scores indicate greater risks and require more immediate attention. This prioritization ensures that resources are allocated where they can have the most significant impact on asset reliability and safety.

  • fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis mitigation strategies
    Step 6:

    Mitigation Strategies

    Based on the risk prioritization, organizations develop strategies to mitigate the identified risks. These strategies may include preventive maintenance, design improvements, redundancy, and other actions to minimize the likelihood and consequences of failure modes. Developing and implementing these strategies is a proactive approach to managing risk and enhancing asset reliability.

  • fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis documentation and reporting
    Step 7:

    Documentation and Reporting

    Detailed records of the identified failure modes, their effects, criticality scores, mitigation strategies, and the rationale behind decisions should be maintained. Documentation ensures traceability, provides a basis for decision-making and serves as a reference for future analysis and audits.


FMECA is essential for asset management because it provides a structured approach to understanding and managing asset reliability and maintainability. Its significance lies in:

  • Reducing downtime and operational disruptions
  • Minimizing maintenance costs by focusing efforts on critical areas
  • Enhancing safety and mitigating potential hazards
  • Increasing the overall efficiency and longevity of assets
  • Facilitating informed decision-making and resource allocation


fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis manufacturing


The manufacturing industry relies on machinery, production processes, and assembly lines to ensure product quality and meet production targets. FMECA plays an important role in maintaining operational excellence within manufacturing. Here's how:

  • Optimizing Equipment Reliability: In manufacturing, FMECA helps identify potential failure modes in these critical assets, enabling proactive maintenance to prevent costly breakdowns and downtime.
  • Improving Product Quality: FMECA assesses how failure modes can affect product quality. By addressing potential issues before they occur, manufacturers can maintain consistent product quality, meet industry standards, and avoid costly recalls.
  • Enhancing Safety: Safety is paramount in manufacturing, and FMECA helps identify failure modes that may pose safety risks. By addressing these issues proactively, manufacturers can create a safer work environment for their employees.
  • Resource Optimization: With FMECA, manufacturers can allocate resources more effectively by focusing maintenance efforts on the most critical assets, thus reducing overall maintenance costs.
fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis healthcare


In healthcare, FMECA is a critical tool for maintaining patient safety and the effectiveness of medical equipment and processes. Its applications include:

  • Medical Device Reliability: FMECA is used to assess the reliability of medical devices, such as infusion pumps, X-ray machines, and diagnostic equipment. Ensuring the reliability of these devices is essential to patient care.
  • Patient Safety: By identifying potential failure modes and their effects, healthcare providers can minimize risks to patient safety. This includes mitigating the risk of medical errors, equipment malfunctions, or process failures.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Healthcare organizations must adhere to strict regulations and standards to ensure patient safety. FMECA is an important tool for demonstrating compliance with these regulations.
  • Emergency Response: In emergency situations, reliable medical equipment is important. FMECA helps healthcare facilities ensure that critical life-saving equipment, such as defibrillators and respirators, is in optimal working condition.
fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis aerospace


The aerospace industry involves intricate and highly critical systems where the failure of a single component can have catastrophic consequences. FMECA is integral to maintaining the safety and reliability of aerospace operations:

  • Aircraft Maintenance: FMECA is used extensively in aircraft maintenance, including engines, avionics systems, and structural components. By identifying and addressing potential failure modes, airlines, and aerospace manufacturers ensure safe and reliable flight operations. 
  • Space Exploration: Space missions demand the utmost reliability. FMECA is applied to space vehicles and their components to ensure that astronauts and equipment are protected from the harsh conditions of space.
  • Compliance and Certification: FMECA helps aerospace organizations comply with stringent industry regulations and safety standards. It is essential for achieving certification and regulatory approval for new aerospace technologies.
  • Cost Reduction: By addressing potential failure modes before they lead to costly in-flight failures, FMECA contributes to substantial cost savings.


fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis design phase

Design Phase

FMECA is often initiated during the design phase of an asset's life cycle. This early application of FMECA is important for several reasons:

  • Proactive Risk Mitigation: By conducting FMECA during the design phase, potential failure modes and their effects can be identified and addressed before the asset is even constructed or put into operation. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of expensive modifications or redesigns later in the asset's life cycle.
  • Cost Reduction: Detecting and rectifying design flaws early on is far more cost-effective than addressing issues after the asset is operational. FMECA helps designers make informed decisions that reduce long-term maintenance and operation expenses.
  • Improved Safety: Early identification of safety-critical issues in the design phase can prevent accidents and ensure that assets are safe for operation.
  • Optimized Reliability: Incorporating FMECA into the design process allows engineers to design assets with reliability in mind, enhancing overall asset performance.
fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis maintenance and operation phase

Maintenance and Operation Phase

During the asset's operational phase, FMECA continues to be a valuable tool for asset management. Its application in this phase includes:

  • Preventive Maintenance: FMECA helps in the development of preventive maintenance schedules based on the criticality of potential failure modes. Maintenance teams can proactively address issues, reducing unplanned downtime and extending the asset's life.
  • Continuous Improvement: Regular FMECA assessments can lead to continuous improvements in maintenance and operational processes. As new data and insights become available, adjustments can be made to further optimize asset reliability.
  • Resource Allocation: FMECA ensures that resources are directed towards the most critical areas, improving cost-effectiveness and operational efficiency.
fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis retrofit and improvement phase

Retrofit and Improvement Phase

As assets age and technology evolves, they often undergo retrofitting and improvement. FMECA plays a critical role in these phases:

  • Efficiency Enhancements: During retrofit and improvement, FMECA is used to identify areas where asset efficiency can be enhanced. This might involve upgrading or replacing components, systems, or processes to better align with current industry standards and technological advancements.
  • Risk Reduction: FMECA assists in evaluating the impact of retrofitting or improvements on potential failure modes and effects. This ensures that changes are made with a clear understanding of their consequences, mitigating risk.
  • Asset Lifecycle Extension: FMECA can help extend the life of an asset by optimizing its performance and reducing the frequency of failures. This can be particularly valuable in situations where investing in a new asset is cost-prohibitive.


FMECA (Failure Modes, Effects, and Criticality Analysis) is not a solitary endeavor; it's a collaborative process involving various organizational stakeholders. Identifying these stakeholders and understanding their roles and responsibilities is critical to the successful execution of FMECA analysis.


Stakeholders Involved in FMECA Analysis

Maintenance Professionals

Maintenance professionals are responsible for the day-to-day upkeep and management of assets. In the context of FMECA, maintenance professionals contribute their intimate knowledge of asset behavior, maintenance history, and operational insights. Their real-world experience is invaluable when identifying potential failure modes and their effects.

Reliability Engineers

Reliability engineers are often the driving force behind FMECA initiatives. They possess specialized knowledge in asset reliability and are responsible for designing and overseeing reliability programs. These professionals guide the FMECA process, ensuring it adheres to best practices and industry standards. They bring expertise in data analysis and risk assessment to the table.

Quality Assurance Teams

Quality assurance teams ensure that products and processes meet the highest quality and safety standards. In FMECA, they contribute by assessing the effects of potential failures on product quality and safety. Their expertise in quality control and risk mitigation is essential in determining the criticality of failure modes, particularly when it comes to compliance with regulatory standards.


Roles and Responsibilities of Each Stakeholder

Maintenance Professionals

Maintenance professionals are responsible for:

  • Providing historical maintenance data and insights.
  • Identifying failure modes based on their practical experience.
  • Collaborating with other stakeholders to develop and implement mitigation strategies.
  • Executing day-to-day maintenance tasks as per FMECA recommendations. 

Reliability Engineers

Reliability engineers take on the following roles and responsibilities:

  • Leading the FMECA analysis process.
  • Providing technical expertise in assessing criticality and risk.
  • Collaborating with maintenance professionals to translate findings into actionable maintenance plans.
  • Ensuring that FMECA aligns with organizational goals and industry standards.

Quality Assurance Teams

The roles and responsibilities of quality assurance teams include:

  • Evaluating potential effects of failure modes on product quality and safety.
  • Contributing to the criticality assessment process by assessing compliance with quality standards and regulations.
  • Collaborating with maintenance and reliability teams to develop strategies that uphold quality and safety standards.

Importance of Collaboration in FMECA Analysis

Collaboration among these stakeholders is the cornerstone of successful FMECA analysis. Each group brings its unique perspective and expertise to the table, creating a holistic and well-rounded approach to asset reliability and maintenance. The importance of this collaboration can be summarized as follows:

  • Comprehensive Understanding: Collaboration ensures that FMECA considers all facets of asset performance and reliability, from practical maintenance issues to regulatory compliance and quality standards.
  • Efficiency: Stakeholders working in tandem can streamline the FMECA process, making it more efficient and cost-effective. Maintenance professionals, reliability engineers, and quality assurance teams can work together to prioritize maintenance activities and resource allocation. 
  • Safety and Compliance: The involvement of quality assurance teams guarantees that safety and compliance aspects are given due consideration, reducing risks associated with product quality and safety.
  • Holistic Solutions: Collaboration results in well-rounded mitigation strategies that address not only technical issues but also quality, safety, and regulatory concerns.
  • Continuous Improvement: Collaboration fosters a culture of continuous improvement, where feedback from various stakeholders contributes to refining and optimizing asset management strategies.


The integration of CMMS with FMECA analysis is a powerful synergy that can significantly enhance the effectiveness of both methodologies. Here's how CMMS complements the FMECA process:

fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis data integration

Data Integration

CMMS systems can house a wealth of data related to assets, maintenance history, work orders, and inventory. Integrating this data with FMECA analysis ensures that the FMECA process is grounded in real-world asset information, leading to more accurate and relevant results.

fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis asset identification

Asset Identification

CMMS software assists in clearly defining the scope of FMECA by identifying all relevant assets and their components. This is essential for ensuring that the FMECA analysis covers the entire asset landscape.

fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis preventive maintenance data

Preventive Maintenance Data

CMMS stores preventive maintenance schedules and tasks information. By aligning this data with FMECA analysis, organizations can proactively address potential failure modes through scheduled preventive maintenance, reducing the risk of failures.

fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis work order history

Work Order History

CMMS systems capture historical data on work orders and maintenance activities. This historical data can be analyzed with FMECA results to understand the effectiveness of past maintenance efforts and fine-tune future strategies.


  • Asset Data Management: CMMS systems provide a central repository for asset data, including equipment specifications, maintenance history, and condition monitoring data. This data can be easily accessed and integrated into FMECA analysis, enhancing the accuracy and relevance of the analysis.

fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis asset data management

  • Work Order Management: CMMS simplifies work order management by streamlining the creation, assignment, and tracking of maintenance tasks. When aligned with FMECA analysis, this ensures that the prioritized maintenance actions are executed efficiently.

fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis work order management

  • Preventive Maintenance Scheduling: CMMS allows organizations to schedule preventive maintenance tasks based on asset criticality and the findings of FMECA. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of potential failure modes and extends the life of assets.

fmeca failure modes effects and criticality analysis preventive maintenance scheduling



Learning from past failures and taking corrective actions can help organizations prevent recurring issues, thereby improving equipment reliability. Regular reviews and iterations of the FMECA analysis, incorporating fresh data and experiences, maintain the analysis's relevance and alignment with the evolving asset landscape. Investing in training and knowledge sharing fosters a culture of continuous improvement, equipping the workforce with the expertise to refine their FMECA practices. Leveraging technology and staying up-to-date with industry best practices, benchmarking, and audits contribute to the effectiveness of FMECA, enabling organizations to make informed decisions and optimize their asset management strategies. Furthermore, incorporating feedback mechanisms from the workforce and conducting regular assessments provide insights for fine-tuning FMECA processes. Embracing these principles ensures that FMECA remains a dynamic and valuable tool, contributing to sustained asset reliability, safety, and efficiency.