When something goes wrong with a product, process, or system, it can be tempting to blame the latest mistake on human error, bad luck, or an unpreventable event. However, failure analysis experts understand that most failures are the result of underlying issues that can be traced back to design flaws, material defects, process inconsistencies, or other root causes. If you want to learn more about what failure analysis experts do and when you might need their services, keep reading.
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First, it’s important to understand that failure analysis is a multidisciplinary field that combines skills and knowledge from materials science, engineering, mechanics, chemistry, physics, and other areas. Failure analysis experts use various techniques and tools to investigate the nature, cause, and consequences of failures, such as microscopy, spectroscopy, thermography, X-ray diffraction, computer simulation, and nondestructive testing. They also follow a systematic and rigorous approach to identify the sequence of events that led to the failure, assess the magnitude and scope of the damage, and make recommendations to prevent or mitigate future failures.
Second, failure analysis experts can be found in many industries and contexts, such as manufacturing, construction, transportation, energy, healthcare, electronics, and consumer products. They may work for private companies, government agencies, research institutions, or consulting firms. Some common reasons why you might need a failure analysis expert include product liability lawsuits, insurance claims, equipment failures, safety incidents, quality control issues, and research and development challenges. Failure analysis experts can help you determine the root cause of a failure, estimate its impact on your business or reputation, and propose ways to prevent or minimize future failures.
Third, failure analysis experts can provide various types of services, depending on your needs and goals. Some common types of failure analysis services include forensic analysis, design analysis, process analysis, and failure prevention. Forensic analysis is typically used when a failure has already occurred and you need to determine its cause and origin. Design analysis is used to evaluate the adequacy and robustness of a design before it goes into production or service. Process analysis is used to identify weaknesses and variability in manufacturing or service processes. Failure prevention is used to proactively identify and mitigate potential risks and defects before they become failures.
Fourth, when you hire a failure analysis expert, you should expect them to follow certain standards and guidelines to ensure the quality and validity of their work. Some of these standards and guidelines may include ISO 9001, ASTM E1188, ASTM E1823, ASTM E2128, and NACE TM0177. Failure analysis experts should also have a solid understanding of relevant laws, regulations, and industry practices, such as product liability law, occupational safety and health regulations, and quality management systems. They should also have good communication and collaboration skills, as they may need to work with other experts, stakeholders, and clients to achieve their objectives.
Fifth, if you’re looking for a failure analysis expert, you should consider several factors before making a decision. Some of these factors may include the expert’s education, experience, credentials, reputation, track record, expertise, communication skills, and fees. You should also ask them about their approach to failure analysis, their methods and tools, their ability to handle complex and multidisciplinary problems, and their willingness to provide clear and actionable recommendations. You may also want to check their references, reviews, and testimonials, as well as their compliance with relevant standards and regulations.
Sixth, while failure analysis experts can be valuable assets to your business or organization, they should not be seen as a substitute for proper design, manufacturing, and quality control practices. Failure analysis is not a magic bullet that can fix all problems, but rather a tool that can help you learn from failures and improve your systems and processes. Therefore, you should also invest in training, monitoring, and continuous improvement programs that can help you prevent and detect failures before they occur. By combining the expertise of failure analysis experts with your own knowledge, skills, and resources, you can create a culture of excellence and innovation that can drive your success in the long term.
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