The purpose of this paper is to propose a novel process failure mode and effect analysis (PFMEA) approach for the reliable design of assembly activities to prevent product defects due to errors during the assembly of complex products. PFMEA is approached as an integrated method that, in addition to implementing recommended actions, supports the design of worksheets, equipment, and layout of the assembly lines of complex systems, early in the design phase of the product. As a result, the innovative design-job element sheets (D-JESs), which report work instructions to the operator for assembly cycles, are defined before the design of the production and assembly process. The modification of the PFMEA structure, the implementation of proper recommended actions, and the designs of D-JESs, equipment, and assembly layout, early in the design phase of the product, are the novel contributions of the paper. The integrated method assures to effectively design the assembly process directly during the product design to avoid errors that could promote dissatisfaction of the end-users. It is practical to use and does not require large investments, implementation of new technologies, or complex additional training. Its practical application is demonstrated using a case study concerning a manufacturer of train wagons via manual assembly lines.
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