FMEA Timing | Guide to When FMEA Should be Completed?

FMEA timing is an important consideration in the FMEA planning stage.

Many engineers don’t know when FMEA (DFMEA or PFMEA) is to start and when it should be finished.

Also many times during the interview process this question may ask. When we start and complete the FMEA process?

So here in this post, you will learn the exact answer on the FMEA timing.

We will cover both PFMEA and DFMEA timing throughout the post.

Why FMEA timing is important?

As we know the FMEA is one of the risk prevention methodology. Where we will identify the potential failure before product/process is implemented.

Therefore it is a before-the-event, not an after-the-fact activity.

So here in the graph, you can see the first curve shows the FMEA activity start and completed on time. And in result, you have identified the failures in the early stage.

2nd curve shows the FMEA activity starts late so you will identify the failures later stage and you can see the cost of development or to reduce those failures will be more/expensive.

Therefore when you follow the correct FMEA timing, your FMEA is highly effective and inexpensive.

Now let’s see what is the correct timing we should follow.

What is the exact FMEA timing?

Generally automotive industry follows two development cycles depending on the customer and geographic region. One is the AIAG APQP process and the other is VDA MLA (Maturity Level Assessment) process.

When Design FMEA (DFMEA) should be start and completed?

According to APQP & VDA MLA method, DFMEA should be started when the design concept is ready.

DFMEA Start once the design concept is well understood and completes the analysis before or at design release.

Later on, the recommended actions are to be completed before the product validation.

Refer below timeline for your reference…

VDA MLA Process

When Process FMEA (PFMEA) should be started and completed?

PFMEA Start once the process flow concept is ready and completes the analysis before or at process development verification.

Later on, the recommended actions are to be completed before the product launch / PPAP.

Now you just discuss the FMEA timing. In that you understand when FMEA starts and is completed.

In industry, it says that FMEA is a live document.

Then it means, it should not be completed. What do you think? is it the correct understanding?

let’s discuss the same.

Why FMEA is a live document?

So, as FMEA analysis is done during the initial development cycle. Therefore analysis and action defined should be completed during the development stages.

But in future, some failure may happen in process. To reduce or eliminate the failures we take some Prevention actions and corrective actions or controls. Now as a standardization practice we need to update the FMEA’s. This is done to capture the lesson learnt in the FMEA.

The benefit of updating the FMEA is when we refer the same FMEA for new similar program development. In that case, the previous lesson learn will be considered. This will help to avoid the same failure in initial stage.

And we will update the FMEA in future when required. Therefore we can say that the FMEA is live document.


The FMEA timing is important because it will help us to identify the failure in early stage of the development cycle. The DFMEA starts when the design concept is ready and completed before start of production tooling.

The PFMEA starts when the process concept is ready and completed before PPAP.

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