Failure Analysis

Definition - What does Failure Analysis mean?

Failure analysis is the systematic investigation of a part failure with the objectives of determining the root causes of failure and the corrective actions needed to prevent future failures. Failures occur when some system or part of a system fails to perform up to the expectations for which it was created.

Failure analysis is commonly performed in the following industries:

  • Chemical processing
  • Refining
  • Oil & gas
  • Pulp & paper

Corrosionpedia explains Failure Analysis

Failure analysis relies on collecting failed components for subsequent examination of the cause or causes of failure using a wide array of methods, especially microscopy and spectroscopy. Key benefits of failure analysis include avoiding costly future instances of corrosion-induced failure, and providing evidence for any litigation proceedings.

Analysis of a failed part can be done using destructive testing or non-destructive testing (NDT). The NDT methods (such as industrial computed tomography scanning) are valuable because the failed products are unaffected by analysis. Therefore, these methods are normally used before any others.

Generally, procedure for failure analysis includes:

  1. Collection of data and samples
  2. Preliminary examination
  3. Non-destructive inspection
  4. Mechanical testing
  5. Selection and preservation of damaged surfaces
  6. Macroscopic and microscopic examination
  7. Preparation and examination of metallographic sections
  8. Damage classification
  9. Report writing

Corrosion-induced failures often lead to costly breakages or downtime. Therefore, identification of the cause of the failure is often critical.

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