Failure Analysis – Methods And Steps For Carrying It Out

What Is Failure Analysis

Failure analysis is simply the process of determining why a product, equipment/component of an equipment or process failed. It involves the collection and analysis of available data to determine the root cause of the failure.

It seeks to determine the root cause of failure by looking at the characteristics and clues left behind, then sought out for corrective actions needed to prevent it.


Why Do Failure Analysis?

Reasons include:

  • To determining corrective actions for product failures
  • Improving manufacturing processes and efficiencies
  • Eliminating the risk of physical harm from product failures
  • Prevent similar failures in the future
  • Reducing financial costs associated with failure


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Methods For Carrying Out Failure Analysis

Some methods used to carry out failure analysis, include:

  • Ishikawa “fishbone” diagrams: These are causal diagrams created by Kaoru Ishikawa that show the causes of a specific event.
  • Failure modes & effects analysis (FMEA): Establishes the ways, or modes, in which something might fail.
  • Fault-tree analysis (FTA): It is a top-down, deductive failure analysis in which an undesired state of a system is analyzed using Boolean logic to combine a series of lower-level events.


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Steps To Carry Out Failure Analysis

It can be done in three (3) steps:

1. Data Collection: At this stage, information about how the device failed and when it occurred is collected and goals for the analysis set; test is also carried out on the product being analysed. The kind of test recommended here is the NDT (Non-destructive testing).

Generally, failure analysis test can be done mainly in two ways:

i) Destructive testing: Require the product to be altered in order to examine cross-sections or thermal behavior.

ii) Non-Destructive testing: Keep a product intact with no form of alteration.

2. Analyze Data Collected to Determine Root Cause of Failure: From the data collected in the first step, the root cause can be determined.

3. Determining Corrective Actions: From the root cause of the failure, corrective actions are set to prevent the failure from reoccurring.


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This analysis can save money, lives, and resources if done correctly and acted upon.