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FMEA moderator: How to conduct a successful risk analysis

Even the best products and processes have the potential for failure and risks. In order to identify, evaluate and minimize these risks, the Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is an indispensable method according to the AIAG&VDA standard. However, behind every successful FMEA is an important player who has a decisive influence on the success of the process: the FMEA moderator.

In this blog article, you can find out what tasks an FMEA moderator takes on and what is important in moderation to ensure that an FMEA is effectively implemented in a company and optimally supported by the employees.

The role of the FMEA moderator

Conducting an FMEA is not just about implementing and applying methods and tools: An FMEA can only be truly successful if everyone involved is constructive and committed to the process. The FMEA moderator therefore has a central function and combines many roles: He leads the meetings, has a sound knowledge of quality management and the FMEA method, coordinates important work steps and, as a motivator and mediator, ensures that the selected team can work together effectively in a pleasant and appreciative working environment.

In addition to specialized knowledge, an FMEA moderator needs methodological knowledge and moderation skills. They need to know how to lead and motivate a team and resolve conflicts. What is important in FMEA moderation can be learned in special training courses. Moderation cards are often used to guide you through the process in a structured manner. Many companies have their own FMEA moderators, but there are also independent moderators who can be called in to carry out an FMEA.

Well prepared for FMEA moderation

As with all important projects, good preparation is essential for success. Not only the FMEA, but also the FMEA moderation requires thorough planning. It is therefore important for the moderator to have all the important information and key data available in advance so that they can prepare themselves, draw up a schedule and compile the basic information for the FMEA team:

  • For which product or process should the FMEA be carried out?
  • What specific objectives are to be achieved?
  • What are the deadlines?
  • Who is a member of the team?

The optimal composition of the FMEA team

A mix of experts, knowledge and experience are the ingredients that an FMEA moderator needs for an effective FMEA team. Who exactly is on the team depends on the individual requirements and the purpose of the FMEA. The FMEA moderator is responsible for ensuring that the composition of the team fits and that employees from all relevant areas such as design, production, process management, quality assurance and customer service are represented. This ensures that the FMEA is viewed and evaluated with comprehensive expertise and from different perspectives. Risks can be identified and effective measures can be developed to minimize risks and avoid failures. Selecting the right participants is therefore immensely important for the success of the entire FMEA.

The FMEA moderator creates the conditions for good cooperation

When carrying out an FMEA, heads can start to smoke. The FMEA moderator keeps calm and ensures that the team members treat each other with respect. It is important to establish clear rules of conduct at the start of the process, which the participants should adhere to. Everyone should be able to express their opinions, ideas and concerns openly. Criticism is of course always constructive! Nevertheless, disputes cannot always be avoided: This is where the moderator's moderation skills are particularly in demand, mediating between the parties and even settling disputes if necessary. The better, more open and appreciative the cooperation, the more efficiently the team works and the better the results of the FMEA process.

The right time management for the FMEA process

Carrying out an FMEA is complex and time-consuming - even individual meetings can take up a lot of time. Effective time management is therefore of great importance. The FMEA moderator creates a schedule for the entire FMEA with a time frame for individual steps and ensures that meetings are structured and targeted. He or she plans space for discussions and the exchange of ideas and intervenes to steer discussions if they get out of hand and are no longer targeted.

The relevant steps for creating an FMEA

The implementation of an FMEA is based on the recommendations of the AIAG&VDA standard. The guideline of the two industry associations enables suppliers in Europe and North America to create a standardized FMEA business process using a variety of methodological tools. The overall goal is to create a precise, comprehensive and robust FMEA that meets all customer requirements. In order to guide the selected team through the process with confidence, a good and competent FMEA moderator requires a great deal of specialist and methodological knowledge. According to the AIAG&VDA standard, the following seven steps are relevant:

Step 1: Planning and preparation

Thorough preparation is the key to the success of an FMEA. The moderator must understand the project (product or process) to be analyzed, define the specific objectives of the FMEA and assemble the team accordingly.

In order to create a transparent basis that leads to an efficient and precise analysis, the FMEA moderator takes care of the following tasks in advance and provides the selected team with the relevant results:

  • Project plan
  • Project description
  • Existing findings (lessons learned)
  • Definition of the scope of analysis

Step 2: Structure analysis

In the second step, the relevant elements of the system must be recorded. The FMEA moderator coordinates the tasks and ensures that the system structure is clearly defined. He supports the team in visualizing the scope of the analysis and guides the precise examination of relationships, interfaces and interactions. Through this active moderation, he helps to ensure that the structural analysis is carried out precisely and thus creates a solid basis for the subsequent risk assessment.

Step 3: Function analysis

In the function analysis, the third step of the FMEA, the moderator ensures that all team members have a clear idea of the functions of the system to be analyzed. Together with the team, the FMEA moderator identifies and documents the various functions of the product or process. The focus is on the overall functionality, the precise allocation of requirements and features to the individual functions and visualization using function networks or trees. This ensures a comprehensive and precise functional analysis which, like the structural analysis, forms the basis for the subsequent risk analysis.

Step 4: Failure analysis

The fourth step is to identify possible causes of failures. The FMEA moderator asks the team to name all conceivable faults. In doing so, he encourages creativity and uses the wide range of experience of the participants to ensure that no potential risks are overlooked. He documents the identified failures and creates failure chains with which the causes and effects can be systematically recorded. By visualizing the failure correlations - for example using failure networks - he makes the connections between the various failures transparent and seamless.

Step 5: Risk analysis

Once the defects have been identified, they must be assessed. The moderator ensures that the FMEA team assesses the risks objectively using assessment scales. The following two key categories are relevant for this:

  1. prevention measures to minimize the cause of an failures.
  2. detection actions used to discover causes of failures or defects.

The FMEA moderator is responsible for assigning the appropriate actions and thus creates the conditions for the identified causes of failure to be controllable. He then supports the FMEA team in evaluating the significance, occurrence and detection of each failure chain and thus helps to precisely analyze the risk at hand.

Step 6: Optimization

The next step is to develop and monitor risk mitigation actions. Together with the FMEA moderator, the team identifies additional improvement measures aimed at reducing or eliminating risks. The moderator ensures a clear assignment of responsibilities, sets deadlines and status for the implemented actions and monitors the implementation and documentation of the actions. In addition, he supports the reassessment of the risk to ensure that the actions taken are effective and increase safety, which ultimately contributes to increasing customer satisfaction.

Step 7: Documentation of results

In the final step, the moderator ensures that all work steps, decisions and results of the FMEA are documented carefully and in a structured manner. This includes creating a detailed report plus an executive summary, presenting the scope of the FMEA and recording B/A/E evaluation tables and other relevant information. On the one hand, this facilitates communication with others in the team: employees who were absent from a meeting can easily understand the results. On the other hand, proper documentation is also of great benefit at a later date: results can be tracked at any time and actions to mitigate risks can be reviewed.

The FMEA moderator also identifies and documents lessons learned, monitors the implementation of actions and evaluates their effectiveness for the continuous improvement of risk prevention. He presents the results to management circles, the board, customers and suppliers in order to promote understanding of FMEA throughout the company.

How FMEA software efficiently supports moderators

The use of professional FMEA software simplifies the implementation of elaborate and complex processes enormously and provides structure and an overview - thus simplifying the tasks of the FMEA moderator.

  • Good FMEA software enables structured input of information that simplifies the process of identifying possible failures, causes and effects.
  • Predefined templates and drop-down lists support the moderator in selecting relevant information.
  • Task priorities (AP) and other assessments can be automatically defined and calculated based on the data entered.
  • FMEA software makes it easy to manage and version FMEA documents.
  • The software makes it possible for several team members to work together - even if they are in different locations.
  • Those responsible can define actions directly and adapt changes to the FMEA. Action tracking is uncomplicated and possible at any time.
  • Professional FMEA software can store historical data and support the moderator in analyzing trends and recurring problems. This enables continuous improvement of the FMEA process.
  • High-quality FMEA software generates alerts and notifications that inform the moderator of FMEA updates, upcoming reviews or critical changes.
  • With the help of FMEA software, the moderator can create customized reports to inform different target groups in an understandable way.
  • Graphical representations and diagrams help to visualize complex information.

Conclusion

The importance of an FMEA moderator goes far beyond the mere moderation of an FMEA team and significantly determines the success of effective risk analysis and minimization. An FMEA moderator has specialist and methodological knowledge as well as strong interpersonal skills that help them to motivate team members and create a productive working environment. They are responsible for the composition of the team, guiding it through the FMEA process and ensuring that all relevant steps are carefully documented. As a competent moderator of a dedicated team, he plays a decisive role in identifying potential risks at an early stage, taking preventive action and thus continuously improving the quality and safety of companies' products and processes. Professional FMEA software is a supporting tool for the FMEA moderator, helping them to identify potential failures, causes and their effects. Good software paired with the experience and expertise of the FMEA moderator are therefore the best prerequisites for the successful implementation of an FMEA.

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