Flexible, anytime, and remote: FMEA online services in an age of pandemic and disruption

DIETZ Consultants expands online offer with customized FMEA services, webinars, and online workshops.

The concept of having DIETZ Consultants offer its FMEA services and best practice remotely at any time via online workshops, remote meetings, and webinars is nothing new. However, due to the challenges that the coronavirus crisis poses, it has gained momentum and quickly developed into another FMEA success story. Almost simultaneously on three continents, the FMEA moderators successfully have proved how skillful and flexible they are in recent weeks. Moderated by FMEA experts from DIETZ Consultants, internationally active companies in India, China, the US, and Germany have pushed ahead with their projects – remotely, spanning borders, and despite the (travel) restrictions brought on by COVID-19. The experiences in the different countries were almost the same: Initially viewed with a degree of skepticism, the tailor-made online FMEA services quickly proved to be target-based and effective. “Across time zones and other obstacles, we have succeeded in bringing together experts in remote locations around the world and working together successfully,” summarizes Winfried Dietz.

Increasing demand for remote FMEA, QM, and risk management

So what do the customers have to do in this respect? Nothing more than for an on-site FMEA. They have to provide the technical information and grant necessary access. It is also crucial that all parties involved adhere to the rules that have been defined in advance. Determining whether the remote workshop itself should use a customer platform, Microsoft Teams, or e-learning tools – or whether it should solely be carried out via voice meetings or video conference – is ultimately just a question of technology.

The fact is that the demand for online offers is increasing. Together with Hemant Jog, Managing Director DC India, Winfried Dietz was online “in” India and a little later in Germany – without travelling and at earlier hours. The fact that the FMEA moderators in Germany sometimes have to get up early is the only small disadvantage, “but it can be compensated for with an extra pot of coffee,” says Dietz with a wink. The decisive factor for him is the great degree of flexibility, as confirmed by the customers. The remote offer enables FMEA experts to work closely with customers and partners on other continents – even if it’s for just a few hours – or to continue a meeting spontaneously without missing that planned flight back to Europe. It goes without saying that on-site workshops at the customer’s premises still have their charm, but online possibilities offer just as many advantages for both parties.

Developing remote workshops in close cooperation with customers

For remote offers to run successfully, proper preparation is essential. “To this end, we are in close contact with the customer in the time leading up to the remote workshop,” reports Hemant Jog. It is a matter of developing a clear structure together with the representatives of the company – this prevents dealing with any unnecessarily wasted time down the road.

Best practice remote FMEA services in China, India, the US, and Germany

DIETZ Consultants has already gained valuable experience. A project with a German-Chinese commercial vehicle OEM near Beijing – one that had actually planned to develop an FMEA on site in China – became a direct best practice example. Under time pressure due to the coronavirus, it was switched to a newly designed online version at short notice. “The feedback was positive,” says Lassie Li, Managing Director DC China. And the commitment has paid off: Shortly after the successful remote workshop in Beijing, Lassie Li, who is responsible for DIETZ Consultants in China, received a call from an OEM who had become aware of the offer. As a new customer, a tailor-made online workshop was designed and carried out for them.

“In the preparation stage, we sent templates for boundary and limit diagrams – as well as the interface and function list – to the customer and in return asked for material that could, for example, be used for the product launch,” says Lassie Li. During the remote seminar, the work was then divided into time slots that lasted two to four hours. This enabled the customer’s employees to flexibly organize their normal work. The biggest challenge was to ensure a consistently high level of concentration through screen sharing and results being mutually shared. While there is still room for improvement when it comes to involving all participants, concerns about the efficiency of a workshop that’s purely held online were quickly overcome. The result was a successful, jointly developed FMEA for cable harnesses, vehicle frames, and oil system. And beyond that, the realization that remote FMEA works well. Moving forward, DIETZ Consultants China will continue strengthening this offer – ideally as a combination of a preparatory on-site workshop and subsequent online seminar.

Good remote FMEA examples in India and Europe

Another good example for future projects comes in the form of the remote seminar with Indian customer Ganges International ltd., which was planned online from the outset. Via the DIETZ Consultants website, contact was established at short notice during the shutdown in June. Based on a detailed briefing about the customer’s products as well as a limit diagram, Hemant Jog and Winfried Dietz developed a customized remote offer. One advantage was that employees from two locations in India could participate in the risk analysis/FMEA. The fact that the seminar was a double premiere makes its success all the more special. Neither the customer nor DIETZ Consultants had previously developed an FMEA of this type solely online.

The FMEA experts from DIETZ Consultants went one step further with a remote FMEA service that connected three companies in three countries: For a German OEM and the automotive supplier APTIV (which has locations in the US and Poland), Dietz moderated an online FMEA workshop on optimizing the international supply chain.