Risk Management and Structure Analysis

The wheel in the roulette table spins and as always, the motto is “rien ne va plus - no more bets”. Hardly anything else is as representative of the correlation between risk and opportunity as gambling. Some see the chance of great riches and others the risk of losing their money. What does the topic of risk actually look like in quality assurance?

FMEA structure analysis in Risk.Net
Structure Analysis in Risk.Net

Quality assurance, one might say, is "fortunately" not about gambling, but about risk minimization and manufacturing safe products. This thankfully rather conservative approach is, well, quite human. Because every time you weigh up between "What is the probability of it happening?" and "How bad is it if it happens?" this is a case of risk analysis. If you go out in the rain, you get wet. So, the probability of getting wet is high, but the effect - you just get wet - is low. If you dont wear your seatbelt in the car, the probability of something happening is most possibly low. But if something does happen, the effects may be very serious or even fatal. Risk analysis techniques such as FMEA are used to correctly evaluate and weight correlations, probabilities, and effects.

FMEA for Safe Products

FMEA is one of the most widely used types of risk analysis. It is a procedure within product development and operations management that assists you throughout the analysis of potential failure modes and provides a system for classification according to the severity and likelihood of failures. During the product development phase, FMEA helps identify and eliminate the causes of failures and put in place precise preventative actions. This means that subsequent control and failure costs within production processes or at customer level can be reduced significantly or prevented entirely.

Risk analyses such as FMEA usually also deal with the structures of products or processes. Because only if you know the structures, you can identify the causes of failures within deeper structures or recognize possible consequences within higher structures. The Risk Management Software Risk.Net therefore supports with graphical tools to visualize and analyze the structures and to build up risk analyses methodically according to the individual product or process structure. The structure analysis tools in Risk.Net include structure tree analyses, failure networks, and function networks. These tools also make it possible to perform a structure analysis with function analysis and fault analysis in order to create a risk analysis according to VDA/AIAG 2019 on the basis of this data.

Structure World: Networked Structure Trees as Knowledge Database

The structure analysis allows a comprehensive examination of any object with regard to its structure, function, and possible failure sources. The results of this examination can then be evaluated in a risk analysis. The first step is to examine the structure tree/construction. Here the object to be examined is mentally broken down into its individual parts, piece by piece. This creates a structure tree. Since often different, but nevertheless very similar products are manufactured, these individual elements can be combined in a common "structure world". In this way the same structural elements can be used in different structure trees. Take a coolant pump, for example. The pump should consist of a housing and a rotor. The housing has already been used in another pump and analysed in detail - you can simply refer to it accordingly. The housing consists of a body, a cover, a cover gasket, and a cover bolting.

First Structure Analysis, Then Function Analysis

The functional analysis follows. The coolant pump itself, for example, is designed to maintain the supply of coolant. The next element is the housing. Its task is to hold the coolant. The next step in the functional analysis is to determine the interactions of the individual functions, that is, to describe which functions of an element are influenced by which functions of its sub-elements. The function of the coolant pump described here is to ensure the coolant supply and its housing fulfils the function of coolant intake. Coolant supply by the pump is directly dependent on the presence of coolant in the housing. To define this interaction, the two functions are simply linked together in the software.

The Failure Analysis

The failure analysis defines the failures that may occur in the individual structural elements and that could affect the individual functions. An obvious fault in the coolant supply via the pump would be, for example, that the pump does not deliver coolant. Failures that occur in the housing which mean that it can no longer absorb or hold the coolant would be, for example, leakage or complete breakage of the housing. For the coolant pump, for example, both the leakage of the housing and its breakage would mean that the coolant supply could no longer be ensured. For the function of the housing, a malfunction of one of its components would mean that its capacity to hold liquid is no longer guaranteed. A loosened cover screw connection or breakage of the body could also mean damage to the entire component.

A Structure World to Go

Step by step, these definitions create a well-ordered structure world in which individual components, functions, and failure possibilities are logically linked to one another. One of the highlights of Risk.Net is that all elements of the various analyses can be used for any other product. They are not just copied, but all correlations and potentials between the elements are delivered in an interactive form for new application scenarios.

Think Beyond One’s Industry Horizon

And Risk.Net can do much more, because the software is at home in all industries. This is shown, among other things, by the fact that in addition to techniques such as VDA/AIAG-compliant FMEA, structure analysis and failure networks, 3D signal light factors, ISO 22000-compliant HACCP, or the ISO 14971 risk matrix are also available in Risk.Net. Whether automotive, medical technology, or food: with Risk.Net you can use all industry-specific methods of risk analysis so that you can identify, analyse, and classify risks and hazards. This makes it possible to look beyond one’s own "industry horizon" and be inspired by methods from other industries. But lets just say it like this: What do Germanys most successful mineral water, most traditional pencil factory, most exported brand of sparkling wine, most renowned medical technology companies, and two of the five largest automotive suppliers in the world have in common? They all lay their trust in our software solutions.


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