I find it very interesting how many of the tools we reliability and maintenance engineers use within our jobs apply in a much broader sense. The obvious one is root cause analysis or RCA as it is known. It could be applied by anyone to solve nearly any problem. In fact in my workshops I have had operations, human resources, and even information technology folks learning about the processes and tools to reduce or eliminate failures. But, have you ever thought of how you can use the failure modes effects analysis (FMEA) and its derivative failure modes effects and criticality analysis (FMECA) process beyond just equipment maintenance plan development?
I find it can be used for every project that you are a part of. For example say you have been asked to be part of a team that is implementing SAP or Maximo or any other EAM. One of the first things you need to identify after scoping and charter is a risk plan and in essence that is exactly what an FMEA creates. You can look at the goals of the project then consider what might go wrong to diminish goal attainment. Then you can use risk priority number (RPN) from a FMECA to sort the potential issues. Lastly, the team can design mitigation or elimination steps for those failure modes that meet a minimum risk threshold. So for example, if one of the goals, or functions in FMEA speak, of the project is to complete the implementation in nine months you might consider that a site leadership change could affect the group’s ability to meet this goal. The change in leadership could mean a change in priorities etc. We would then look at its RPN by asking: What is the likelihood of the leadership changing? How bad would the leadership change effect on time project completion? And what are the chances we could detect the leadership change prior to occurrence? This would lead us to a ranked list of potential failure points or modes. We could then build elements into our communication plan and other project plans to proactively address these potential failure modes. Then, if they do occur everyone would be aware and prepared to address them.
What other RE and ME tools do you use in unorthodox ways?