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Variation Mode and Effect Analysis compared to FTA and FMEA in

Product Development
Jonas Pavasson, Magnus Karlberg
Division of Computer Aided Design, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
Universitetsområdet, Porsön, SE-97187, Luleå, Sweden
The possibility of predicting reliability of hardware, both for components and
systems, is important in engineering design. By predicting reliability it is
possible to prevent failures, for instance, through planned maintenance. There
are several methods for improving the prediction of reliability. Variation Mode
and Effect Analysis is a relatively new such methodology. The objective of this
paper is to show how Variation Mode and Effect Analysis differs from Fault
Tree Analysis and Failure Mode and Effect Analysis in terms of requirements,
limitations and possibilities in the context of product development.
Comparison of these methods has shown that they are useful in different
stages of the product development process. Further, depending on the type of
development project, e.g. whether it be a completely new solution or an
upgrade, different methods are suitable.
The possibility of predicting reliability of hardware, both for components and
systems, is important in engineering design. Prediction of reliability enables
prevention of failures, for instance, through planned maintenance.
The reliability of individual components is superior to the corresponding
system reliability [1]. 1961, Weibull [2] formulated a distribution (the Weibull
distribution) which is one of the most commonly used formulas for describing
important probabilistic measures in reliability theory e.g., times to failures,
extreme values, service life and requirements allocation.
Today, there are several methods for predicting system reliability that consist
of several components. One commonly used method for predicting reliability
of complex hardware systems is Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) [3, 4]. Support
systems can be modelled by Petri Nets [5], i a deductive method (top-down
approach) which includes the logical correlation between the components and
system [6], or state-space analysis (Markov analysis) [7].
Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is a commonly used method which
is used extensively in the automotive industry [8]. FMEA is an inductive
method (bottom-up approach) to identify causes of failure and failure modes.
Today, many failures are caused by variations [9] (strength, loads,
manufacturing tolerances, etc.), resulting in expensive reclamations and
dissatisfaction that may lead to loss of customers [10]. Therefore, a method
called Variation Mode and Effect Analysis (VMEA), which is a deductive
method of identifying and managing sources of variation, has been developed
[11]. The VMEA method has been decomposed into three different levels [12]:
Basic VMEA, Enhanced VMEA and Probabilistic VMEA.
So far, few studies have compared VMEA to traditional tools like FTA and
FMEA by means of usefulness in product development. Hence, the objective
of this paper is to show how VMEA differs from FTA and FMEA in terms of


see Figure 1. The KPC can be compared to the top event in a fault tree. Basic VMEA and Enhanced VMEA (B/E VMEA) are based on subjective ratings. Exclusive or gate. made on a 1-10 scale both for the sub-KPC and the NF. 2. where more information about the sources of variation is known. where detailed and statistical information about sources of variation is available. etc. 3. Each KPC is decomposed into a number of sub-KPCs that are affected by variations.e. Probabilistic VMEA is used in late design stages.requirements. VRPN for the j:th NF of the i:th sub-KPC VRPN NFij   i2 ij2 ij2 253 (1) . 2. Figure 1. The result from the B/E VMEA is a Variation Risk Assessment and Prioritization (VRPN). Noise Factors (NF). Product characteristics that are of particular interest from a variation standpoint are selected and are usually referred to as Key Product Characteristics (KPCs). i. Or gate. Basic VMEA is used in the early design stages. limitations and possibilities in the context of product development (PD). Variation Mode and Effect Analysis VMEA is a deductive method and can be divided into three different levels[12]: 1. Ishikawa cause and effect chart Note that the logical interrelationships between the Sub-KPCs and the KPC (And gate.) are not expressed in a logic diagram by the VMEA method. where information about the variation is vague and the aim is to compare and evaluate different concepts. One way of illustrating how NFs and sub-KPCs are related to the corresponding KPCs is to use an Ishikawa cause-and-effect chart. Enhanced VMEA is used later in the design stages.

External sources are. The sub-KPCs’ characteristics are usually known. 2. The KPC causal breakdown can be visualized in a causeand-effect chart to clarify the contribution of variation. There are two types of NFs: dissipation between manufactured products (unit-to-unit variation).e.1 Causal breakdown of KPCs KPCs can usually be decomposed into a number of affecting sub-KPCs. In order to enable relative measures of the NFs. and different behaviour between used products (in-use variation).g. The characteristic of a sub-KPC derives from the product.  where  i2   is the KPC sensitivity to the sub-KPC. The probabilistic VMEA method aims to systematically assess factors that affect KPCs i. see Figure 2. Figure 2. while internal sources are related to the product itself e. Hence. according to [8]. Probabilistic VMEA (Prob. variation size assessment and variation risk assessment and prioritization. the target function Y  f  xi  is derived as the natural 254 .. operating or user variations. is a method based on quantitative data from test results or other available measurements and allows greater objectivity. sensitivity assessment. (2) j 1 These VRPNs can be used to derive which sources of variation are most important for the KPC studied. for instance.. The KPC is usually expressed analytically as a transfer function. Then the VRPN for the 2 ij i:th sub-KPC n VRPN sub  KPC i   VRPN NFij . wear and degradation. the different types of VMEA can be used in diverse stages of the product development process. the response variable that is affected by the variation [11]. controllable and are affected by one or more NFs. VMEA). parts of the product or the manufacturing process. The NFs that emerge from the second type can be divided into causes from external or internal sources. sensitivity to the NF and 2 ij the sub-KPC   the NF variation size. Diverse stages in the product development process [8] The working process of the probabilistic VMEA consists of four steps: causal breakdown of KPCs. on the other hand.

2 Sensitivity assessment The second VMEA step is to determine the sensitivity coefficients for each variable xi . the logarithmical standard deviation (relative measure) can be derived directly. 2. by one unit..4 Variation Risk Assessment and Prioritization (VRPN) In the fourth VMEA step the variation contribution  xi for each variable xi   and total variation contribution  tot  for the KPC are calculated to determine the VRPN..g. Uncertainties from e. To calculate this spread of variation the t-correction factor variable t xi is estimated (often the tabular value from the statistical t-distribution that   derives from the 97. are simply denoted as uncertainties.logarithm of the transfer function [8] where the NFs are included in the variables xi .   x2 1 2 255 i . an identified uncertainty with implicit random distribution (aleatory uncertainty) is denoted as scatter.  tot   x2   x2  .. 2. the variation contribution is (3)  x i  c x i t x i x i and the total variation contribution is (4) . The variation contribution is summarized to a total variation contribution.5% t-quantile). For a specific group of customers. The insecurity from the t -factor estimation is compensated by reducing the number of input sources i. 2. uniform distributions are used to predict the standard deviation for that NF. the t factor gets close to 1. The sensitivity coefficients for the sources of variation that are influencing the target function (KPC) are determined analytically by the partial derivative of the target function. tolerances in the drawings (epimistic uncertainty). which requires mean values and standard deviations for all included NFs. the standard deviation is determined by use of the Gauss approximation formula. degrees of freedom. and the standard deviation  xi derives from the variation size assessment in step three.e.. Note that if measured data are not available. If the variable xi contains more than one NF. the standard deviations  x i for each variable xi are derived.3 Variation size assessment In the third VMEA step. Hence. for each variable x1  xi . If the variable xi contains only one NF. in the case of a large number of input sources. The sensitivity coefficient cxi is derived from     sensitivity assessment in VMEA step two. Hence.

The logical interrelationship of how such basic events depend on and affect each other. The reliability structure is composed by events interlinked with gates which enable the derivation of analytical mathematical expressions to evaluate the system reliability. since one fault tree is needed for each failure mode. estimations have to be used.5   exp z   tot  (6) SFp  e z tot (7) and then where z is the normal random variable according to the determined probability p and τtot is the total contribution of variation. knowledge about existing failure modes and their causes are required.5 where p is the probability of failure. it may take a long time to derive the fault tree itself (since the reliability structure might be quite complex). For large systems.. when developing completely new solutions.2. all required data is seldom available. the failure rate of the components is required (this assumes that the component has a constant failure rate and that failure times are given by the exponential distribution). On the other hand. For each failure mode. besides the reliability structure. 256 . the selected KPC SF p  Dp (5) D0. a general system state is postulated and decomposed into chains of more basic events (faults) of components [13]. and then a safety factor can be predicted. and thereby cause some system state to occur. failure mode data and failure rates may not be available. One basic assumption in FTA is that the component failures occur independently of each other. Hence. (3) can be rewritten so that SFp  expln D p  ln D0. Fault Tree Analysis Fault tree analysis (FTA) is a deductive method i. Even for existing systems. in which case interviews must be conducted. in order to retrieve the data necessary to conduct FTA.5 Safety factor from VMEA By traditional probabilistic VMEA it is possible to derive a safety factor SFp  as the ratio between the low quantile of design parameters and the median of design parameters [8] i. Hence. in traditional VMEA reliability is prescribed. therefore. 3.e. which may require some time (and may also introduce a risk of retrieving incorrect data)..e. This might not be a problem when upgrading existing systems. Eq. is often described analytically in a reliability structure which can be visualized as a tree.

suitable PD stages at which the methods may be applied are proposed. from different divisions. Process. To enable identification of causes of failures and to be able to study the influences of failures. FMEA is often conducted to clarify the correlation between causes of failure on component level and corresponding causes of failure on system level. with different knowledge i. FMEA has been further developed into two major methods.e. causes of failure and consequences of failure.e. is used to analyse the failure mode for a process [4.. failure mode S  and effect of failure Pd  . the product’s function. The first method is called Design. 5.Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (D-FMEA) and is used to analyse the failure mode for the design. it is stated whether or not the method takes the logical connection between component and system failure into account. based on subjective ratings. FTA and FMEA In Table 1. In Logical Connection. 8. whereas Usefulness Area shows how the results can be used. cross-functional groups [14]. One result from FMEA is a Risk Priority Number (RPN). which is an inductive method. different properties important for the product development have been compiled for each of the methods considered in this paper. failure. In the Level of Accuracy FTA is used as reference level to which the other methods are compared. often on a 1-10 scale. 16]. (8) Note that the logical interrelationships between the component failure and the system failure are not expressed in a logic diagram. hence RPN  Po S Pd .. Failure Mode and Effect Analysis In FMEA. The RPN is calculated by the mathematical product of the three criteria: potential causes Po  . In Product Development Stage. and to obtain arrangement to avoid causes of failure or reduce the consequences of failure. 257 .Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (P-FMEA). FMEA is performed to identify causes of failures affecting the reliability of the product [15] i. The accuracy of the result is dependent on the amount of information and how detailed the information is. while the second method.4. Comparison between VMEA. The Data Collection Method concerns how the in-data are collected. information about the consequences and effects of the failures is usually collected through interviews with experienced people.

It can be concluded that. With probabilistic VMEA it is possible to quantitatively (i. limitations and possibilities of these methods are summarized in Table 1. Analogous to FMEA.Reliability from assemblies modelled in CAD system Measurement s from rig. FTA gives additional possibilities of increasing the accuracy and managing the mathematics involved in reliability prediction.and field tests (failure rates) . Although probabilistic VMEA does not explicitly include the logical interrelationships.No Level of Accuracy Product Development Stage Explicit Logical Interrelationships . Hence. assess and manage variation contribution -VRPN .Yes .Less than FTA . to identify. Comparison between methods 6.and field tests (standard deviation) Usefulness Area .Interviews from crossfunctional groups Interviews from crossfunctional groups . VMEA is used. Discussion and Conclusions In this paper VMEA is compared to FTA and FMEA in the context of product development.Measurements from rig. FMEA is often used to identify failure modes. in basic and enhanced VMEA a Variation Risk Assessment and Prioritization number can be derived subjectively. Requirements.All PD stages .After concept selection .Interviews from crossfunctional groups . the logical interrelationships between component and system failure are expressed explicitly only in FTA.Derive reliability of hardware system . more objectively) analyse how each included variation contribution affects. for instance.Identify causes and consequences of failures .Interviews from cross-functional groups .No .Less than FTA .After concept evaluation . it may include in-data 258 .All PD stages . instead. among the methods included in this paper. VMEA Data Collection Method . to rate consequences of specific failures and to subjectively derive a risk and priority number. assess and manage unwanted variation -VRPN . some safety factor based on a prescribed reliability.No .Same as FTA Table 1. assess and manage unwanted variation to increase the reliability of systems.Identify causes and consequenc es of failures -RPN .Identify.e.Identify.Tolerances from drawings .Identify failure modes . Both FMEA and FTA can be used to identify causes of failures.Derive safety factor .Reference Level .FMEA FTA B/E VMEA Prob.

^pp. suitable in different stages of the product development process. basic and enhanced VMEA are judged to be suitable for early PD stages (such as concept design). Kumamoto. Probabilistic VMEA does not require the reliability structure but rather the included components and standard deviations of properties and is hence suitable after concept evaluation. Kvalitet från behov till användning. S. LiLoLe-Verlag Gmbh. Reed. 2. Karlsson and M. T. Henley and H. 1961. New York. since at least some of the needed data may be available (reliability structure from previous analyses. London. Andrews and T. New York. based at Luleå University of Technology. R. 8. B. VMEA also includes the variation contribution of each included property. IFAC IMS’10 workshop. Pergamon Press. Prentice Hall. The results from FMEA. Weibull. P. 9. 2002. etc. 1999. no. 2009. L. Robust design methodology for reliability. 129143. M. FMEA. as is the case for FTA. J. FMEA. O´Connor. Lund. J. so that it is possible to retrieve the reliability structure. West Sussex. failure rates from field measurements. Schneeweiss. Svensson. Professional Engineering Publishing. Bromley. Dunnett.). Newton and R. 1981. basic and enhanced VMEA have a lower level of accuracy. Journal of Engineering Design 14 (2003). a VINNOVA (Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems) Excellence Centre. 6. Bergman and B. In addition. J. Moss. Löfstrand. Wiley. G.from products in use and rig tests. Modelling service support system reliability. Petri nets for reliability modeling. Wiley. Andrews. Bergman. due to different requirements. D. Lorén and T. Use and knowledge of robust design methodology: A survey of Swedish industry. M. 5. 1991. Reliability and risk assessment. 7. FTA and VMEA are somewhat complementary and are useful during the whole PD process. Due to the increased data need requirements. 4. limitations and possibilities. Practical reliability engineering. D. which can be collected by interviews. Karlberg. which is acceptable in early PD stages. 2. for upgrading development projects. References 1. E. S. Arvidsson. both FTA and probabilistic VMEA can probably be used from the start of the PD process. Acknowledgments This work was conducted at the Faste Laboratory. S. D. W. Klefsjö. FTA would be suitable in PD stages after concept selection. Note that. 3. Fatigue testing and the analysis of results. Studentlitteratur. Sweden. Centre for Functional Product Innovation. For completely new solutions to be developed. The methods analysed in this paper are. 259 . 7. which hence will increase the accuracy. p. since those methods require fewer in-data. 2010. Reliability engineering and risk assessment. West Sussex. Hagen. B. de Maré. W. 2002. measured standard deviations.

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