• Laptop eruption fiasco: 8 million units recalled, $500 million in costs, with damages to property and personal effects.
  • Space Shuttles combust: loss of life, severe monetary damages, untold embarrassment, a near fatal blow to NASA

These well publicized events reflect merely a small fraction of system failures and defective products moving through the marketplace at any given time. It has been estimated that global manufacturers spend as much as 15-30% of their annual revenues correcting existing quality problems. Each year US-based manufacturers alone report nearly $30 Billion in product warranty claims. Inadequate designs have been identified as the key contributor to poor product quality, accounting for nearly 60% of defects, with manufacturing process problems contributing about 32% of the defects. The monetary costs – some $700 billion annually – associated with the deaths, injuries and property damage ensuing from consumer product incidents alone, are borne solely by the products’ manufacturers, who are also adversely affected in terms of their brands’ value, reputations and good will.

Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA) is the primary approach used in many industries for identifying possible product failures. When conducting FMEAs, designers ask, “How might our product fail?” Finding answers to this question usually involves numerous and tedious brainstorming sessions. The randomness of brainstorming cannot guarantee that all potential failures are recognized, and that no major failures are missed. In a complex system, such as an automobile, thousands of failure modes may occur, and a comprehensive FMEA may take months to perform, even by a team of experienced specialists. The outcome depends heavily on the personal qualifications of these specialists. The complexity of the situation is also greatly exacerbated by the integrative nature of modern products, which often incorporate highly diverse components based on mechanical, electronic, thermal, chemical, and other properties. Such diversity makes it extraordinarily difficult for product designers, most of whom are narrow subject matter experts, to effectively communicate with each other during the FMEA stage in a product’s development process. This results in incomplete FMEAs and, consequently, often leads to major system failures.

The Solution

TechScan is a pioneering solution for the automated, knowledge-based, predictive detection of potential failure modes. TechScan enables the recognition of potential failures caused by numerous and diverse factors such as mechanical fatigue, thermal and electrical stresses, erosion and corrosion, variations in production, typical wear-and-tear, and many others. TechScan’s algorithms are domain-independent, i.e., they are adaptable to the task of automating failure diagnosis in virtually any product or system in use today and in the future.


TechScan facilitates two major aspects of failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA): Identification of failure modes and failure causes (in products as well as in processes), and data reporting. TechScan supports all major FMEA standards (SAE J1739, MIL-STD-1629A, AIAG FMEA-3, ARP5580, IEC 60812, BS 5760, etc.) and allows for extensive reconfiguration of the software to comply with an organization’s specific analysis and reporting formats and procedures.

Identification of failure modes and failure causes

The analysis begins with the creation of a behavioral model of a given system (a product or a process). This behavioral model automatically captures the functional and physical interactions between a system’s components. Overall system behavior is then represented as a sum total of functional “streams,” as well as “streams” of energy and materials (i.e., physical effects) that “flow” through its components. The software then analyzes the behavioral model and reveals failure propagation paths along all of the hierarchical levels of the system’s structure. The software also operates in reverse – that is, beginning with a given failure mode first, then determines its potential cause(s).

No prospective competitor’s product performs any of the above functions.

The result of these analyses is an automatically populated company-customized FMEA table showing all of the system components and associated failure modes, failure causes, and failure effects. TechScan is not just another software tool. It is essentially a radically new way of conducting predictive failure analysis.