StrategyHow to choose the right techniques for failure analysis?

January 24, 2023by Bhawins0

H1- What is failure analysis?

The failure analysis is a technical procedure to investigate the root cause of failure of a product, equipment, or an unintentional mistake in designing, manufacturing, or any unseen problem in a continuous process.The purpose of failure analysis is to determine the most fundamental reason which caused the failure (i.e., root cause), ideally with the intention of eliminating it and identifying means to prevent its recurrences.

Failure analysis is when an investigation takes place to determine the cause of failure, usually with the aim of taking corrective action to fix the problem and mitigate against further failures. Failure analysis is undertaken across all branches of manufacturing industry to prevent future asset and product fails as well as protecting against potentially dangerous risks to people and the environment.

H2- Choosing The Right Technique For Failure Analysis

Learning from past failures is the best way to understand and prevent future equipment breakdowns. In practice, that learning process falls under the umbrella of failure analysis.

These days, there are plenty of failure analysis techniques to choose from. They all come with a specific set of advantages, challenges, and use cases. Let’s explore all the options, discuss which ones might be right for your situation, and review the steps you need to take to implement one.  

Depending on its purpose, failure analysis can be performed by plant and maintenance engineers, reliability engineers, or failure analysis engineers. Maintenance engineers conduct primary failure analysis based on their knowledge of the plant operations. If the internal team doesn’t have the required expertise, it is advisable to hire consultants that provide failure analysis services.

Last but not least, reliability engineers employ different failure analysis techniques to improve fault tolerance and ensure the robustness of their system.  

H3 – Identifying the root failure causes

In many cases, machine failures are surface-level manifestations of deeper problems that were not addressed in time. Sometimes, a combination of different factors leads to an unexpected breakdown. 

Since breakdowns are so expensive and disruptive, maintenance teams need to put a lot of effort into preventing them. Aside from routine maintenance, identifying root failure causes – and eliminating them – is the best way to keep breakdowns at bay. 

H3- Preventing potential failures

A machine or system has many interconnected and interdependent components. These components do not have the same probability of causing a system-wide failure. Information and data on the system can be used to analyze the probabilities of potential failures. 

Tests and simulations can be run to find the weakest links and improve them – be it through design tweaks or by changing operating and maintenance recommendations.

H3- Improving product design

As we just alluded to in the previous paragraph, failure analysis can be done to improve equipment or component design. Engineers can employ different failure analysis techniques to identify potential issues in their designs. 

On a more practical side, they can also conduct destructive testing to evaluate the characteristics of components and materials they plan to use in their final product. 

The insights gained from these tests and analyses are used to create or improve product quality.

H3- Ensuring compliance

Regulations and standards imposed by governments or industry bodies often require failure analysis. Failure analysis methods are used to ensure the product adheres to the required standards.

H3- Liability assessment

Legal proceedings related to failures require the cause of a failure to be analyzed. The same is done as a part of specific insurance claim settlements to ensure the conditions in the contract are met. In such cases, failure analysis might be a legal requirement. 

Naturally, the result of failure analysis can also be used as protection from litigation.

H2- Steps for conducting failure analysis

Failure analysis (internal backlink) ( techniques vary widely based on the specific use cases. That being said, steps for conducting failure analysis follow the same pattern. 

H3- Step #1: Define the problem

A well-defined problem statement is essential for any deep analysis. Failure analysis requires the engineers to define the problem as clearly and concisely as possible. The problem statement should contain details about: 

  • the failure that occurred 
  • the data that needs to be collected 
  • the failure analysis technique to be used 
  • the expectations for the failure analysis (goals)

h3- Step #2: Collect failure data

All relevant data has to be collected. This includes both quantitative data and qualitative data. 

Quantitative data refers to the operations data, maintenance data, age of the machine, etc. It can be obtained:

Qualitative data cannot be easily quantified. Such data is obtained by interviewing machine operators, maintenance technicians, operations managers, etc. All relevant data concerning the failure should be collected.

H3- Step #3: Create a failure timeline 

Root causes result in a chain reaction that forms the surface-level failures we observe. The collected failure data can shed light on the event sequences that happened. With enough information, the team performing the analysis can create a failure timeline. This serves as a visual and mental aid to the analysis process. 

Hopefully, the timeline will provide clarity into the cause-and-effect relationship between the events. 

H3- Step #4: Select useful data and discard the rest

The timeline created in the previous step is also used to identify useful data. Quantitative and qualitative data collected in step #2 is mapped to the events in the timeline. The data that finds a place in the timeline is useful for the final analysis. 

The rest of the data can be discarded as it is not relevant to the events that caused the failure. This way, failure analysis teams won’t waste time and effort analyzing irrelevant information.

H3- Step #5: Administer the chosen failure analysis technique

The next step is to conduct the chosen failure analysis technique (we will discuss them in the next section). The method selected depends on the specific use case, industry, and the experience of failure analysis engineers conducting the analysis.

H3- Step #6: Review results, test and apply a solution

The result of failure analysis is studied in detail. In most instances, the purpose of failure analysis is to implement remedies that can prevent future failures. Different solutions proposed are tested and the best solution is used to improve the system/machine.

H2- Bhawins provides quality failure analysis

It includes

  • Identifying molecular fingerprints of unknown compounds
  • Identifying weight loss at different temprature
  • Strict Quality Practices
  • measuring melting point and crystallinity of a sample.
  • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR) Analysis

Bhawin utilizes FT-IR technology to obtain molecular fingerprints of unknown compounds, using transmittance measurements captured after using an infrared beam at the sample compounds. Unknown fingerprints were then searched against a database of over 230,000 known FT-IR spectra in order to develop a conclusive identification. Bhawin’s state-of-the-art Nicolet™ iS50 FT-IR is equipped with an Attenuated Total Reflectance (ATR) accessory, which allows our scientists to use diamond cell technology to test solid, liquid, or gas state samples in their natural state at much lower sample sizes.

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