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Case History

The FMEA design to increase the quality of New Products

Design review based on failure assessment and effects analysis.
design review, DFMEA, revisione processi di sviluppo

BUSINESS CONTEXT

Multinational company present in more than 150 markets worldwide

IN THIS CASE HISTORY

The company

The company is a multinational manufacturer of mainly household appliances, has over 100 years of history and is present in more than 150 markets around the world thanks in part to major acquisitions. Since its earliest products, it has distinguished itself for a strong focus on innovation and functionality.

 

The challenge

The brand needed to improve its positioning in terms of quality, shifting the perception of its products: from good to excellent.

The product development process, while formally robustly structured, as it was implemented proved partially ineffective in terms of identifying the right product features to ensure that market expectations were met, and this inevitably ended up affecting quality.

Appropriate tools and methods were needed to analyze in detail the characteristics of the individual product (design, components, structure) in order to be able to investigate all possibilities of breakdown and risk, from the time of design to the time of production and after-sale.

 

The solution

The proposal was to introduce the Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis FMEA (or DFMEA) tool, a design process analysis and review technique aimed at identifying potential risks and failures in a new or existing product when making design or functional changes.

FMEA enables risk management through:

  • The definition of acceptable quality criteria that meet the requirements decided with the customer
  • The assessment of the impact that product development has on the supply and production chain
  • The historicization of the process and the know-how developed

The entire production process is broken down, by the entity or design department, into steps and elements, for each of which the possible risks and failures are examined, also assessing their consequences, severity and frequency.

The application of this methodology ensures that the design requirements are fully met before the start of production, bringing the product compliance to the desired quality standards.
This allows costs to be cut down significantly; as a matter of fact, intervening at a later stage always entails higher expenses and is sometimes not possible at all: take the case, for example, of complex repairs or the extreme case of product recall campaigns, which add to the direct economic impact on the brand reputation.

 

The operational phase

 

Risk analysis through FMEA, to be effective, must start from the customer and involve all the parties concerned in the implementation, including the suppliers.”

 

The analysis focused on a refrigerator whose design was aimed precisely for a new manufacturing process, with the aim of identifying the risk assessment elements related to the automation of its assembly.

The first step was to create a cross-functional team, involving employees and managers from the design, test analysis, production, supplier quality, product quality, service and logistics departments.

The second step focused on breaking down the product design into functional blocks, for example, the refrigerator interior or doors.
For each block, a functional classification was made and then the possible failure mechanisms were identified, their frequency and severity analyzed, particularly considering those closely related to the use of the newly chosen automated assembly system.

The classification determined the priority criteria for developing the project improvement actions: this greatly limits defects, non-conformities and failures. Above all, the above are identified at the design stage, earlier than the normal timeline, which usually coincides with the launch of the product on the market.

 

 

The results

The application of the method led to important results. Of particular importance:

  • the 40 percent review of the CTQ (Critical to Quality) characteristics needed to ensure the timely control of product quality: in practice, the method has enabled better identification of the components through which to check the product’s compliance with market expectations, well before the commercial launch!
  • the 30% reduction in warranty costs over the first year of the product life

The more precise and accurate definition of product subgroups, which could give rise to failures or risks, has positively impacted after-sales and therefore the consumer’s perception of high quality, with a very positive feedback in terms of brand reputation.

 

Identifying the risks and fault possibilities at the design stage leads to lower costs and shorter production times, as well as increasing the perception of product quality.”

 

Roberto Malaguti – Partner ŌdeXa

 

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