Step This Way: Walking Through AIAG/VDA's New 7-Step FMEA Approach



Steps-(1).jpgAfter much anticipation, the 1st Edition AIAG/VDA FMEA Handbook has finally been published and automotive suppliers are starting to become familiar with its contents. With new concepts and guidelines introduced, the handbook combines AIAG and VDA requirements to provide a common approach in completing FMEAs – for both North American and European manufacturers – while providing more structure to the process itself.

Enhancing Quality, Efficiency and Effectiveness in Just Seven Steps
One of the most noticeable changes in this new edition is a structured and prescriptive framework defined within the 7-Step Approach. These steps clearly outline the items to be included in developing FMEAs, as well as how they need to be completed. As shown in the graph below, each step is further categorized by three phases:  System Analysis, Failure Analysis & Risk Mitigation and Risk Communication.


The 7-Step Approach includes critical changes to the previous FMEA method that provide benefits at each step:  

  • Step 1Planning and Preparation defines the scope of the FMEA and responsibilities of the team. The “5Ts” are introduced (InTent, Timing, Team, Tasks, Tools), which each need to be considered in this step.  In the past, many FMEAs have struggled or failed because a “team of one” was left to work on the FMEA alone. By explicitly outlining and assigning responsibilities in this step, teams of one should no longer be an issue.
  • Step 2Structure Analysis breaks down the process into “bite-sized” steps, work elements and their linkages. This step allows for the visualization of the analysis process using tools such as a structure tree and flow diagram to identify the manufacturing system. With the process visualized and organized in this way, the team is able to easily analyze each task and identify potential failures later on.
  • Step 3Function Analysis involves analyzing each process component to ensure its intended functions and requirements are fulfilled.  Essentially, this guarantees all tasks are getting completed as planned.
  • Step 4Failure Analysis is where the failure chain is established, which effectively identifies failure modes, causes and effects.
  • Step 5Risk Analysis estimates risk by calculating Severity, Occurrence and Detection ratings to determine the Action Priority (AP) and outline which risks need to be addressed first. This is a notable change from the former FMEA version, which utilized Risk Priority Numbers (RPNs) to characterize different risk types.   
  • Step 6Optimization requires teams to determine and implement sustainable actions to address the identified risks and assess the effectiveness of those actions. The goal is to minimize the risk of producing products that do not meet customer expectations. 
  • Step 7Results Documentation is the final step, where the team summarizes and communicates the results of the FMEA activity. This provides a record of risk analysis and reduction, along with conclusions and recommendations for the future.

In addition to providing a standardized process, the 7-Step Approach was designed with the goal of increasing the team’s effectiveness and efficiency when completing FMEAs. And by using the tools and techniques defined within the new handbook, potential failures will be better addressed – enhancing both manufacturing processes and product quality. 

To learn more about the other changes and updates within the new AIAG/VDA FMEA Handbook, and to get assistance with implementing it at your facility, The Center offers a two-day interactive course that equips learners with the knowledge and skills needed to complete the new FMEA methodology. Learn more about the class and view an upcoming course schedule here.


vamplew_s2-web.jpgSteve Vamplew, Quality Program Manager
Steve is a Quality Program Manager at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. In his role, Steve manages and delivers consulting, training and implementation assistance for Quality and Environmental Management Systems to small and medium-sized manufacturers.  Steve has extensive quality, manufacturing and management experience working in the automotive industry at OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. He leverages this experience to assist manufacturers with the implementation of ISO 9000:2015, IATF 16949, ISO 14001, AS 9100D and training on automotive Core Tools.  

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Categories: Quality Management