Six Crucial Analytical Techniques to Find the Root Causes of Product Failure

In its most basic form, failure analysis is the methodical scientific process of determining why a process, product, or component failed. Errors may arise in the production process, during transportation, installation, and maintenance. The data is gathered, analyzed, and potential causes of failure are identified. After that, corrective action may be made to stop such mistakes in the future.

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In order to identify the reasons for failures and stop them from happening again, a multidisciplinary approach is usually required. It may be necessary to bring together a number of disciplines, such as mechanical engineering, material science, and instrumental chemical analysis, in order to fully assess the product’s function, design, fabrication process, processing, installation, and maintenance. Failure may result from any one of these elements acting alone or in concert with one another.

The following are a few standard procedures for failure analysis:

Data collection: Historical data and details on the events behind product failure are gathered. During the failure analysis planning process, engineering design, production techniques, material specifications, maintenance records, and other relevant data are gathered.

Non-Destructive Testing: To find defects, cracks, and other abnormalities that could have led to the failure, the product is visually examined and evaluated using NDT techniques.

Destructive Testing: The material composition, mechanical characteristics, and physical characteristics of the malfunctioning component are determined by laboratory examination. Investigated would be environmental factors such pollutants or corrosive compounds.

Data analysis: The analyst can determine the failure mechanisms and any relevant elements by using historical and analytical data in conjunction with their experience in failure analysis.

Investigation Completion: Findings and suggestions from the study are provided, along with any possible remedial measures to stop failures from happening again in the future.


Visual examination assesses the status of the failed product both at the beginning of disassembly and during dissection. includes measuring dimensions, taking pictures of all pertinent aspects, and examining the object with optical and digital microscopes.

Investigative chemical analysis checks to see if the manufactured materials (coatings, alloys, etc.) adhere to specifications. This aids the analyst in figuring out whether the materials are appropriate for the intended use or whether any variations are relevant to the failure.

As a branch of chemical analysis, residual analysis searches for impurities from the environment or manufacturing processes that could have contributed to failure mechanisms including corrosion, stress corrosion cracking, etc.

Optical and scanning electron microscopes are used in fractureography to find the fracture mechanisms. Specific characteristics can help identify if a crack originated from wear, corrosion, fracture, creep, or a combination of these. They can also show where a crack started and how it spread.

Tensile, ductility, hardness, fatigue, and other characteristics of the failed component are all determined by mechanical testing.

In addition to finding abnormalities, material examination looks at the structure, density, coating thickness and integrity, grain size, and other properties that impact performance.

Failure analysis is a methodical, intricate procedure that need a great deal of expertise and understanding to be completed correctly. It is an essential tool for troubleshooting production across all sectors and may be used as a forensic legal examination supplement.