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Failure Mode and Effect (Criticality) Analysis in DAB

What process or business case can ECLIPSE be applied to?

The ECLIPSE suite, whilst designed specifically to meet ECSS standards, can be used for any kind of business case or process. Within this influence article we will focus on Failure modes, effects (and criticality) analysis (FMEA/FMECA).

FMEA and FMECA are important in space projects and programs and are addressed specifically in the Space product assurance – Dependability Standard ECSS-Q-ST-30-02C – Failure modes, effects (and criticality) analysis (FMEA/FMECA).

Why are FMEA/FMECA performed?

The Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and Failure Mode, Effects, and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) are performed to systematically identify potential failures in:

  • products (functional and hardware FMEA/FMECA);
  • or processes (process FMECA)

and to assess their effects in order to define mitigation actions. The failure modes identified through the FMEA are classified according to the severity of their consequences. The FMECA is an extension of FMEA, in which the failure modes are classified according to their criticality.

How is FMEA/FMECA currently treated on space projects?

The FMEA/FMECA is an effective tool in the decision-making process, provided it is a timely and iterative activity. Late implementation or restricted application of the FMEA/FMECA dramatically limits its use as an active tool for improving the design or process.

To date, many companies manage FMEA/FMECA through Office tools such as MS Excel and or MS Word and store them in their document management system, or equivalent share drives. Some projects have used self-built applications. However, as has been noted in my other influence articles, the data may fall into the “silos of information” by not being integrated into other key processes, which can lead to reduction in project efficiencies and reduced quality of the design or process.

What issues can this treatment cause?

Whilst many projects will implement ECSS quality standards to address the process, the lack of centralization or dedicated software and the usage of Office tools to record such important data sets is subject to the weakness of any process: human mistakes. Lack of configuration control using office files, time spent locating correct FME(C)A, lack of integration to other quality and RAMS processes and limited or no audit all point to potential inefficiencies, project delays or uncertainties within projects, which space projects can ill afford.

How can ECLIPSE support the management of FMEA/FMECA?

Within the ECLIPSE suite is a module called DAB – Database Application Builder. This module allows users to build their own applications/databases to treat records of any nature and assign users in a secure manner on a record by record basis.

DAB users can build data tables to meet the DRD worksheet forms in Annex of the ECSS-Q-ST-30-02C standard. DAB also allows users to apply various report templates for outputs and even use the calculation capability of DAB against metadata fields to process the criticality levels.

Process wise, using the Tree Metadata each lower level FMEA can be related and applied to the system FME(C)A’s in an interactive manner, allowing for traceability to the System Hierarchy. Once generated, each record can be assessed to define mitigation actions within the AIM (Action Item Management) Module.

Lastly, the ability to apply relationships to other processes or records in ECLIPSE such as RISKs, NCR’s, Lessons Learned & Alerts, to name a few, brings a greater value to the overall project ability to deliver all EIDP items from within one system, the outcome being a core centralized and efficient project or program.

FMEA/FMECA Application features:

  • Configurable tree metadata to link items to products or program phases
  • Configurable metadata to meet ECSS DRD of tables and reports
  • Numerical and Calculation metadata fields for criticality calculations
  • Ability to relate FME(C)A records to each other and to other processes
  • Action Management allowing ability to track and define the mitigation actions to be applied
  • Ability to perform updates and audit changes
  • Dashboard; statistics and reporting
  • Relationship creation with other ECLIPSE processes such as NCR’s, RISKs, RIDs, etc.
  • E-mail notification integration

This article was written by Andrew Coe.

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