What is Tolerance Analysis?

What is Tolerance Analysis?

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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What is Tolerance Analysis?

No mechanical design is perfect in the long run, and sooner or later failures are going to start presenting themselves. There are many ways to account for that, from making the product as sturdy as possible in order to ensure that it survives for some critical amount of time, to ensuring that when it fails, it fails in a controlled, predictable manner which can be easy to develop around. In any case, tolerance analysis is an important tool in making sure that your products can stand the test of time, and if you’re producing any kind of product with mechanical features, it’s important that you understand how to properly use this technique.

Basic Concepts

The basic principle of tolerance analysis is to determine how a system behaves when strained to its limits, and where those limits lie exactly. This can be useful knowledge when designing the fundamental aspects of that system, as you’ll know which parts have a higher fault tolerance, and subsequently where you need to put more pressure.

A specific part of tolerance analysis deals with determining the worst-case scenario of a failure condition. When a product is prone to failure that can lead to catastrophic developments, it’s important to know exactly how much stress it can endure before reaching that breaking point.

Worst-case analysis should always be performed in tandem with other aspects of tolerance analysis, as the results it produces doesn’t exactly give you the full picture you’re looking for in most cases. Rather, it focuses on the extreme values that certain variables can reach, something which may not always be relevant to your current situation. You may be more interested in how exactly those variables change over time and leading up to the final point of failure, for example.

Encompassing the Full Assembly

An important point about tolerance analysis is that you need to ensure that it encompasses the complete assembly as fully as possible. No node may be missed, and you have to also ensure that the analysis goes through the entire assembly line in a controlled fashion. A tolerance vector loop is an important tool in tolerance analysis that was developed for exactly this purpose, and mastering its fundamentals as early as possible in your studies of tolerance analysis will be a critical task.

It’s actually a well-defined structure that can provide you with an analytical approach to your tolerance analysis, even though it looks like it’s heavily based on intuition at first. The same can be said for tolerance analysis as a whole, actually, and it’s a methodology that can take some time to get used to, but the final results will be more than worth all the effort.

It’s also important to note that the specific methods you’ll be using within tolerance analysis itself are going to vary across the board. Tolerance analysis recognizes different stackup methods which can alter the rules of applying some of its parts, such as the tolerance vector loop. Understanding the different components of the framework and knowing when to use the right parts of it is an integral part of working with tolerance analysis properly.

In the end though, you’re going to see significant improvements in the overall quality of your organization’s work if you apply tolerance analysis correctly. There’s a good reason why the methodology plays such an integral role in the production practices of many large organizations around the world nowadays, and we fully expect to see its use growing even stronger and more widely accepted.


Tolerance analysis is a critical tool to master if you’re doing anything related to products that can potentially fail at some point in their use. It can be applied to contexts outside of the realm of mechanical products too, making it the ideal tool to use when you need to determine how far the boundaries of a certain element in your organization can be pushed. Collecting and organizing this data appropriately can be a very important detail in your workflow in the future, and the sooner you start with it, the better.


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Original: http://www.shmula.com/what-is-tolerance-analysis/24459/
By: Shmula Contributor
Posted: November 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

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