The objective of this paper is to present an application of the Failure Mode, Effects, and Criticality analysis (FMECA) as a front-end to a continuous manufacturing process improvement program. This tool has been effectively used in the past to help focus attention on critical modes of system failure as part of subsequent analyses such as Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). However, in this application the analysis process was adapted to allow delineation of not only the critical failure modes but also the more significant underlying causes. These significant causes can then be either removed through product or process redesign, or compensated for through more focused preventive maintenance policies, condition monitoring, and other so on. Improvements are reflected in increasingly cost-effective manufacturing operations and an enhanced competitive posture.