Aerospace & defenseMay 6, 2024

Manufacturing Excellence: Control Planning and Process FMEA in A&D

Careful quality control planning and Process FMEA in A&D ensure that each component is manufactured correctly, meets stringent safety standards, and works as intended every time.
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In industries like aerospace and defense, where lives and national security are at stake, the quest for absolute precision and reliability is relentless. You can’t just draw the blueprints for a military aircraft and hope for the best when you build it – you have to plan every step, specify materials and construction techniques, and perform safety checks to ensure that the design is safe, functional and compliant.

Careful quality control planning ensures that each component is manufactured correctly, meets stringent safety standards and works as intended every time. It’s about anticipating potential problems, such as material or design flaws, and performing tests to detect and correct them early.

Merging the Predictive Power of Process FMEA and the Structured Strategy of Control Planning

Integrating inspection planning with failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is an important strategy for improving product reliability, performance, and customer satisfaction. This approach combines the predictive power of process FMEA (PFMEA) with the structured mitigation strategies of control planning to create a comprehensive framework that addresses potential failures at every stage of a product’s lifecycle.

Process FMEA is the analysis of manufacturing and assembly processes. Both quality and reliability may be affected from process faults. The input for this FMEA is, among others, process plans, routings and operations.

The Importance of Model-Based Process FMEA

Model-based process FMEA is a continuous improvement loop that identifies all potential or actual defects, errors, risks or failures in products, processes or services. It classifies the problems according to the severity of their consequences, their frequency and their detectability, and assigns a risk priority number (RPN). The higher the risk, the more urgent it is to resolve. Process FMEA also describes which prevention or detection controls are currently put in place and proposes actions to take in addition to lowering the risk (improving the process to reduce occurrence or improving detection controls).

Ideally, FMEA is used in the earliest stages of design and during all redesign processes to identify critical issues early in the development cycle, making them easier to mitigate, including predicting potential problems to implement preventative measures that improve long-term performance and reliability.

The Central Role of Control Planning

The model-based process FMEA analysis is performed relative to:

  • The process plan (and its correlated manufacturing items)
  • The key characteristics of the product (engineering item), intermediate manufacturing items or fabrication steps, and the processes being performed

The Control Plan is a comprehensive document that describes strategies to control or avoid identified risks and prioritizes actions based on the RPN. It lists all product and process inspection points required to deliver a defect-free outcome, and is essential for maintaining process control over the long run. It includes essential elements such as part information, process steps, control methods, measurements, inspections, and quality checks.

Control plans are typically Excel documents that list the product and process characteristics that must be monitored during the manufacturing process, including measurement methods and necessary reaction plans for deviant conditions.

As a “living document,” the control plan evolves with the product life cycle and is continually revised and updated to reflect changes in product or process characteristics, specifications, design and control methods. Control plans are fundamental to reducing production waste, maintaining consistency, and ensuring that identified issues do not escalate into significant problems.

Challenges of Control Planning Documentation

Without control plans, most processes will gradually drift into a state of disrepair due to employee turnover, knowledge loss, and short-term production priorities.

The complexity and dynamic nature of FMEA and control planning can make the documentation process a manual challenge, from ensuring document accuracy and accessibility to facilitating timely updates. Traditional management methods characterized by manual updates and disparate systems create inconsistencies and data silos, and hinder real-time collaboration. This not only increases the risk of errors, but also complicates compliance with strict industry regulations. The dynamic nature of the aerospace and defense industry requires a documentation system that can quickly adapt to design changes, new risk assessments and changing regulations.

Revolutionizing Control Planning with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform

Historically, the evolution of manufacturing in the aerospace and defense industry has been characterized by constant innovation aimed at minimizing risk and error in every component produced. This evolution has taken a significant leap forward with the advent of integrated 3D digital solutions that embody the shift from traditional control planning processes to sophisticated, model-based approaches.

Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform® provides a collaborative and unified ecosystem for managing control planning, including FMEA and control plans. With solutions such as Ready for Rate, Dassault Systèmes supports its customers to achieve operational excellence through the deployment of data-driven quality management across engineering to manufacturing and operations as it provides Model-Based Safety Design capabilities through PFMEA and control plans. This centralized approach provides broader insight into quality across the organization, improving decision-making and operational efficiency.

DELMIA’s Streamlined Approach to Control Planning

As part of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, DELMIA offers an integrated solution for control planning and PFMEA documentation. This unified digital environment streamlines the documentation process and offers several advantages:

  • Centralized documentation: DELMIA consolidates control plans, PFMEA analyses and related documentation, ensuring up-to-date access for all stakeholders and promoting better collaboration and decision-making.
  • Real-time updates and accessibility: Immediate updates to designs, processes or risk assessments are reflected directly in the control plan documentation, ensuring timeliness, and eliminating inconsistencies.
  • Improved visibility and traceability: The platform provides complete visibility, enabling teams to track changes, view change histories and understand the rationale behind decisions, which is essential for auditing and demonstrating compliance.
  • Simplified compliance: Integration with broader PLM processes simplifies compliance with complex regulatory standards and easily supports industry-specific compliance.

Towards a Future of Integrated Control Planning and FMEA

In the aerospace and defense industry, moving towards a future of integrated control planning and FMEA within the 3DEXPERIENCE platform marks a pivotal advancement in achieving unparalleled quality, safety and reliability standards. This strategic integration equips manufacturers with advanced tools for the proactive anticipation, identification and mitigation of potential risks associated with design and manufacturing processes. Specifically, CATIA focuses on design FMEA, offering a sophisticated approach to identifying and addressing design-related risks before they materialize into more significant issues.

In adhering to industry standards, it’s crucial to distinguish that PFMEA and control plans are governed by the AS13004 standard. This standard outlines the requirements for identifying, assessing, mitigating, and preventing risks within the manufacturing process through the application of process flow diagrams (PFDs), PFMEA and control plans across a product’s lifecycle. By leveraging these standards within the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, manufacturers can ensure their products not only meet the rigorous quality and safety standards but are also capable of swiftly adapting to emerging risks and regulatory changes.

As the industry navigates increasing complexity, this innovative shift towards 3D digital models incorporating both process plans and quality-related information promises to redefine manufacturing quality. It positions the aerospace and defense sector to significantly enhance its competitive edge in a demanding industrial landscape by radically improving efficiency and ensuring the integrity and reliability of its products.

Download the eBook to discover more A&D total quality management solutions in action!

And to deep dive into the related Industry Solution Experiences: Ready for Rate, Cleared To Operate, Program Excellence

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