Despite the host of processes and strategies that manufacturers enact to reduce and avoid equipment failure, these scenarios remain an unfortunate reality of manufacturing operations. A failure reporting analysis and corrective action system — known as a FRACAS — can help organizations to extract value from failure scenarios, analyze why they occur and take further action toward reducing and avoiding them.
What is FRACAS?
A FRACAS system includes a number of standard components, making up a closed-loop feedback, analysis and action cycle that leads to process improvements and efficiencies over time. In this section, we will explore each part of FRACAS: failure reporting analysis and corrective action system.
- Failure Reporting: Under a FRACAS system, any failure condition that occurs throughout the facility, whether part of a process, machine, component or system, must be reported in a standardized way. In order to provide value and be useful, the failure report should include several details: the date and time of the failure, the specifics of the component or process that failed, the symptoms of the failure itself, the test results that identified the failure and the scenario under which the failure occurred (including personnel, location, equipment details, process details and more).
- Analysis: With the details of the failure report readily available, analysis of the failure is the next step — specifically, root cause failure analysis. Root cause analysis is one of the most effective methods to diagnose, remedy and ultimately reduce the incidence of equipment failures because it takes the time to posit more than just what occurred (and how to remedy it), but to examine why it occurred (and how processes may be modified to prevent it from happening again). Root cause analysis takes into account equipment history, performance data, personnel information, process analysis and more.
- Corrective Action: Once root cause analysis has been satisfactorily completed, corrective action can be taken. This may incorporate process changes, retraining, preventive maintenance adjustments and more. The key intended outcome of corrective action is reduction or prevention of failure events in the future, based on the data and information provided by the report and analysis. In order to complete the final step of the closed-loop feedback process — a core component of a FRACAS — the corrective action must be documented, followed and tracked to measure its efficacy. If not effective, the steps taken should be adjusted or further monitored to pursue value and benefits.
Implementation of FRACAS
Now that we have answered the question “what is FRACAS,” we can look at the steps required to properly implement a system. These steps include:
- Discovery Phase: The discovery phase should draw from the intended outcomes or objectives of the FRACAS implementation. With a strong understanding of those goals, discovery should include:
- Existing process analysis
- Audit of equipment, personnel and procedures
- Identification of failure modes
- Analysis of existing historical data
- And more — With this analysis in hand, discovery should also include identification of failure analysis and corrective action tasks, ownership of those tasks, approval chains and other decision-making steps.
- Design Phase: With an understanding of the existing scenario and the intended outcomes, it is now time to design the FRACAS process. This stage includes identification, standardization and documentation of required tasks, as well as who is responsible for them. FRACAS software is almost always used to facilitate this step (as well as subsequent steps in system implementation), helping to keep track of the extensive web of tasks, responsibilities, reports and data. At the very least, the design stage should enumerate the required tasks, who is responsible for them and how the tasks and results will be documented.
- Enactment Phase: The enactment phase incorporates the actual implementation of the FRACAS. This phase can include software implementation, onboarding, training and communication. The ongoing success of enactment, or implementation, is heavily reliant upon adherence to the processes established in the previous phases — thus, the importance of buy-in among relevant personnel cannot be overstated. Onboarding should include a clear communication of the value and benefits of the FRACAS, so that employees understand why they are being asked to learn new systems and take on new responsibilities.
FRACAS enables compliance with a number of standards and requirements, including the MIL-STD-2155 FRACAS standard from which the system is derived.
Additional standards and requirements that involve FRACAS, are FRACAS-related, or can benefit from FRACAS, include:
FRACAS compliance is heavily reliant upon the closed-loop nature of the system, which — essentially by default — enables adherence to numerous requirements.
Benefits of implementing FRACAS
FRACAS can provide numerous benefits to manufacturers. These include:
- Improved Reliability: Reliability is one of the core goals and tenets of the FRACAS framework. By implementing a standardized way of documenting and addressing failures of any type — equipment, process and more — and introducing failure analysis and corrective action as part of the process for any failure, FRACAS creates incremental, trackable, actionable reliability improvements that add up to significant productivity and bottom-line benefits over time.
- Cost Optimization: FRACAS helps to maximize the return on investment of nearly any resource or asset in the facility. It achieves this by seeking to address the root cause of any failure condition and to then remedy it, resulting in more efficient overall production.
- Reduced Downtime & Inefficiencies: Offline equipment is one of the most common results of a failure condition in the facility — and unplanned downtime in manufacturing is the most significant cause of lost efficiency and productivity in the facility. With the stated objective of corrective action to conclude the cycle of any failure state, FRACAS helps to reduce unplanned downtime and ultimately create greater equipment and process efficiency and ROI.
- Emphasis on Data Collection: With today’s industrial technology, including machine health monitoring methods such as using industrial sensors, there is no shortage of ways to collect equipment performance data. FRACAS seeks to leverage this data by digging beyond superficial remedies to identify the root cause of failures, based on equipment history, performance data, maintenance events and more.
A FRACAS system can require a significant amount of time and cost to implement — and take time to realize a return on that investment — but it provides the foundation for a structured, standardized, repeatable set of processes throughout the facility, leading to increased productivity, greater efficiency and improvements to the bottom line.