FMEAs have been used as a risk identification and reduction tool for decades. The approach was developed by the United States Military in the late 1940s and was used for almost 70 years with relatively small evolutionary enhancements. In 2019, substantial changes were introduced as AIAG and VDA “harmonized” their differences for conducting FMEAs.
Background on FMEAs
The first widely known use of FMEAs was by the US Military at the end of the 1940s. The military developed the technique to reduce sources of variation and corresponding potential failures in the production of munitions – and it proved a highly effective tool.
Once it was recognized that project risk was reduced by the military’s use of FMEAs, NASA adopted the methodology as a crucial project planning technique as well. FMEAs proved to be vital to the success of the Apollo (and subsequent) NASA missions. FMEAs are widely used by the civil aviation industry to assess aircraft safety.
The automotive industry was an early adoptee of FMEAs as well. The Ford Motor Company led the way as an internal response to their safety and public relations issues with the Ford Pinto model in the mid-1970s. Other automotive manufacturers in the US, Europe and UK soon followed Ford’s lead.
AIAG was formed in 1982 to get fierce (US) auto industry competitors to collaborate and agree on standardized use of quality improvement tools and practices such as FMEAs, SPC (statistical process control), MSA (measurement system analysis) and related practices.
2019: FMEAs Get a Makeover
The AIAG-VDA FMEA Harmonization Project was a collaboration between OEMs and Tier 1 supplier members of AIAG and VDA. It represents the culmination of a three-year project revising and improving FMEA methodology. The result is one common foundation for FMEAs across the global automotive sectors represented by AIAG and VDA.