The aim of this paper is to develop a new tool for reliability and failure mode analysis by integrating the conventional aspects of the popular failure mode and criticality analysis (FMECA) procedure with economic considerations. Here FMECA is approached as a multi-criteria decision making technique which integrates four different factors: chance of failure, chance of non-detection, severity, and expected cost. To aid the analyst to formulate an efficient and effective priority ranking of the possible causes of failure, the analytic hierarchy process technique is adopted. With this technique, factors and alternative causes of failure are arranged in a hierarchic structure and evaluated only through the use of a series of pairwise judgements. With this new approach to failure investigation, the critical FMECA problem concerning the (direct) evaluation of failure factors is also by-passed. The principles of the theory and an actual application in an Italian refrigerator manufacturing company are reported in the paper.
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