Error Mode Effects Analysis (EMEA) Details

An error is when the outcome of a process is different from what’s expected. Even the smallest error could cause another bigger (or multiple) errors, creating a snowball effect that could potentially result in a fatal accident. Error Mode Effects Analysis (EMEA) aims to prevent or at least limit the damage caused by any error by conducting a thorough check-up on a certain process.

EMEA manifests itself as a worksheet. After conducting the research, participants examined the problems; then, participants filled the worksheet with various data. The worksheet is used as a primary guideline for future auditing and reviewing processes.

There are four components of the Error Mode Effects Analysis (EMEA) worksheet:

1. Risk Priority Number

The Risk Priority Number (RPN) is the multiplication sum of three numbers representing the error severity, occurrence, and detection rating levels. Companies must construct guidelines regarding each number, where the lowest number has the lowest risk/severity, and the highest number has a fatal outcome. The scale varies depending on how detailed you want the worksheet to report; usually, it’s 1-10.

For example, a 10 (out of 10) number in error detection means the error is almost impossible to detect, or it requires multiple observers to detect the error properly. A 5 (out of 10) number in error detection means the error will certainly be observed by a working staff right as long as it’s in a well-lit area. A 1 (out of 10) number in error detection means the error is painfully obvious because it emits a loud warning sound or bright lights. The same intensity and details also apply to other numbers, such as error severity and occurrence.

Finally, once we have the result of the three numbers, the results are 8 error severity, 2 error occurrence, 5 error detection. Now we multiply those three numbers, and we get 80 risk priority numbers.

2. Potential Effects

The potential effect is an educated guess about the direct result of the error. For example, if you drive a car, and you want to turn left, but you forgot to activate the blinker. The potential effects could be (ranging from the least severe): the car behind you brakes just in time, you get honked at, another car scratches your car, or the vehicle behind you full-on crashes into your car.

3. Current Controls

Current control is the current protocol of checking whether the error persists or not. Simple double-checking is mostly efficient enough to prevent most errors from taking effect. A double-check performed by another person is doubly effective. Incorporating an automatic machine into the double-checking process is also great, as long as it has consistency.

4. Recommended Action

Recommended action is the result of the entire EMEA process. Action is taken to correct or alter the process so that the error is detected earlier or prevented from happening at all.

Example of Error Mode Analysis (EMEA)

Here we see an Error Mode Effects Analysis worksheet of the garment packaging process on a high-profile international garment company. For the sake of brevity, this EMEA worksheet example only includes one process and three potential errors.

The Process

A staff receives finished garments and puts them inside the box. The quantity and packaging manner is listed on the packing list. The worker follows the packing list. Once the packaging is done, the box is handed to the next worker, who seals the box and applies identification stickers.

Risk Priority Number

Because the garment factory is high profile, a mistake in fulfilling orders such as potential error #1 and #2 could lead to a massive loss. Not only monetary loss because the client could refuse to settle the payment, but also big prestige loss because the order is not fully satisfied. Potential errors #1 and #2 get the maximum number scale of 10. Potential #3 gets a 5 because even though it's not compliant, the garments are still being delivered per order quantity.

In the end, the potential error #1 gets the highest RPN number, so we have to focus on fixing potential error #1 first.

Potential Effects

As mentioned above, potential errors #1 and #2 could mean the shipping quantity doesn’t match the order quantity. Meanwhile, the potential error #3 could result in an undersized shipping vehicle because they used bigger boxes than needed.

Current Control

Potential error #1 and #2’s current control is only manual double-checking by the worker. Manual double-checking is faster but still slightly flawed because of loss of concentration, especially when the shipping order has many styles per box.

Potential error #3’s current control is very good. However, sometimes staff don’t do proper checking when the shipping schedule is busy.

Recommended Action

Potential errors #1 and #2 have the highest RPN number, so they should be monitored closely. A pair of different eyes is much more efficient in double-checking because people mistakenly double-check their work. A supervisor should make sure this recommended action is done properly.

Potential error #2 recommended action tells staff to print out a detailed packing list and place them near the working staff. The objective is to make the packing staff follow the packing list much easier and faster, without relying on the supervisor.

Differentiating boxes by their appearance and size is not decisive enough. As the company grows, clients order a bigger variety of box sizes. As a result, the difference in visual appearance on each box is hardly noticeable. Potential error #3’s recommended action tells workers to put large and clear labeling on each cardboard stack to differentiate it easier.