In one of my previous entries, “Strength of FMEA Process in the Analysis,” I emphasized the significance and benefits of both perceiving and creating the FMEA as an analysis worthy of our time and energy. This only happens when the analysis delivers value.

Where’s the Value?

“Value may also be expressed as a straightforward relationship between perceived benefits and perceived costs: Value = Benefits / Cost.”

I became more keenly aware of the real meaning of value during my tenure as a 6Sigma Master Black while employed at an automotive Tier-1 supplier. When 6Sigma and Design for 6Sigma (DFSS) were initially rolled out, I signed up to become a master-level practitioner.  In our training, we were taught the methodologies and how to implement the tools to deliver product and process improvements by completing formal “projects.” Everything had to be a full-on project.  I didn’t recognize initially that success would only come in the long term if we could deliver real value to those who we were enlisting to do all these projects.

When we required man-weeks of effort to do a complete “by the book” project, we inherently made the project participant’s work-lives harder because they couldn’t’ get their other work done. Instead of making their lives easier, we made them harder by imposing these “improvement” projects on them.  We failed to deliver value consistently because we were focused on delivering projects for ourselves (a false customer) instead of really focusing on what our customers (the engineers) needed. We demanded a LOT of investment with no perceived benefit delivered to the customer.  Completed projects and claimed dollar savings weren’t helping those who were investing the time. The engineers and their managers lost interest fast and the fanfare for 6Sigma faded quickly as a result.

Fortunately, the candle didn’t go completely out. A small number of us broke through the mold of what we were told was the “right-way” and recognized that the tangible benefits came to the engineers when we could help them through short, strategic activities instead of cookie-cutter projects. When we just focused on helping them deliver their work product faster – with less variation, and with fewer failures occurring late in the development process- instead of focusing on completing our 6Sigma projects, they finally started to see real value!

So what does this have to do with FMEAs?  We need to look closely to assess what real value we are offering with our FMEAs and ask to whom  we are delivering it.  Is it a false customer? There are a lot of real customers who can benefit from the FMEA. By asking and answering “who are those customers and what do they need?” – THAT’s where we find the opportunity to deliver value! As design-engineering performing a DFMEA, how can you use it to actually help you deliver a better product with less risk? How can you make sure it’s been performed in a way that really helps the manufacturing engineers perform a better PFMEA and, thus, ensure a robust process? You deliver it on time and via an efficient methodology. You make sure the failure modes are covered by preventive design rules and guidelines, the design analysis is inclusive of robust-engineering noise factors and influence factors, the appropriate range of parts have been tested, and the analysis is performed with appropriate tools (software) to support these results.

Our focus as APiS North America is to help you deliver this value to your internal and external customers.  Our training doesn’t just show you the buttons and knobs in the cockpit, we help you become the pilot that can fly the plane!  Carry on!


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