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This article describes the methodology for performing a failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA). It explains the methodology with the help of a hot water heater and provides a discussion on the role of FMEA in the design process. The article presents the analysis procedures and shows how proper planning, along with functional, interface, and detailed fault analyses, makes FMEA a process that facilitates the design throughout the product development cycle. It also discusses the use of fault equivalence to reduce the amount of labor required by the analysis. The article shows how fault trees are used to unify the analysis of failure modes caused by design errors, manufacturing and maintenance processes, materials, and so on, and to assess the probability of failure mode occurrence. It concludes with information on some of the approaches to automating the FMEA.

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