Applying Root Cause Analysis
Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a very effective technique for discovering the root cause of problems that we encounter in our day to day operations.
RMP with RCA class of Coral Bay Nickel Corp at the plant site in Rio Tuba, Palawan.
Sometimes a machine or process problem we have just solved comes back and we have to spend more time and resources to repair the machine or process. Why does this happen?
Often, a problem comes back because we were not able to address the true cause of the problem. Problems in operations can be very complex and difficult to analyze. This is where RCA becomes very useful.
Participants applying a mind mapping technique to better understand where a problem is occuring.
The RCA process provides us with a methodology and a set of tools to analyze the problem and get to the true cause of a problem and develop countermeasures to prevent the recurrence of the problem.
Training in Root Cause Analysis includes developing analytical skills and to expose the real reasons behind low performance, accidents, production failures, machine failures and other adverse events. These may involve the identification and mapping of processes, procedures, activities, inactivity, behaviors or conditions.
Unless you get to the root cause of a problem and apply the fix to the root cause you are likely to experience a repeat of the problem again and again. Don’t just put a bandage on a problem; get to the root cause and fix the problem permanently.
At RMP Consultancy we have developed a training methodology that has worked very well for many companies. Our RMP Consultancy Management System ensures a cost effective, disciplined and standardized method for organizations to mitigate risk, optimize cost, increase performance and establish reliability goals.
Problem Solving at RMP Consultancy
Our Problem Solving approach includes learning how to apply the following tools:
A mind map is a visual representation of the process or business that we are examining. I have found that many of my participants in my training seminars have a difficult time communicating the circumstances of an incident with words. However, given some Manila paper and crayons, they are very well able to draw exactly what is happening at their workplace. I have found Mind Mapping to be an excellent way to encourage brainstorming among participants.
This technique is sometimes also called “spider diagrams,” “mind webs”, and “idea sun bursting”.
Process engineers from CBNC undergoing RCA training with RMP Consultancy.
A search in the internet will reveal that there are many possible sources of this technique. I remember being taught in school that the proper way to start a report for a news story was to always begin with
- Who is it about?
- What happened?
- When did it take place?
- Where did it take place?
- Why did it happen?
We just add the last H (how) and we have our 5W1H.
The 5W1H is very useful in the initial collection of information to help us grasp the current situation and correctly define the problem, as in
- What is the problem?
- When did it occur?
- Where did it occur?
- Who did it affect?
- Why is it a problem?
- How did it occur?
Ishikawa Diagrams(Cause and Effect Diagrams)
This tool was created by Kaoru Ishikawa of Japan. It is often used by a team to list down all the possible causes of a problem and hopefully find the root cause. The diagram very much resembles the skeleton of a fish and is often referred to as a Fishbone or Herringbone Diagram.
The Effect is placed at where the head of the fish would be and the spines are the primary causes. The primary causes for Manufacturing are often referred to as the 4 M’s that is: Man, Method, Machine and Material. For Service applications, we look at Equipment, Policies, Procedures, and People. Two other causes we can look at would be Money and Environment.
Secondary causes would be drawn as laterals to the main spines.
Creating Ishikawa diagrams can take some time to complete and may require quite a lot of expertize from the users. The 5 Whys approach is a simpler approach made popular in the 1970s by the Toyota Production System. The 5 Whys strategy involves looking at any problem and asking: “Why?” and “What caused this problem?”. The answer to the first “why” will prompt the second “why”. The answer to the second “why” will prompt another and so on until the root cause of the problem is discovered; hence the name the 5 Whys strategy.
Very often, when we ask production people the first why, their first answer is always that the machine or plant is already too old and needs to be replaced. Of course this isn’t going to happen, so we go to the next “why” until we get to the root cause.
The main advantage of the 5 Whys is that it is simple, and easy to learn and apply. All employees can learn this technique very easily and contribute to productivity.
- 1st Why the product was defective
- 2nd Why the hole was too big
- 3rd Why the operator used the wrong drill bit
- 4th Why the correct procedure was not followed
- 5th Why the standard work instruction was not found
Sometimes, the root cause of the problem is not easily discernable using just the Ishikawa Diagram and the 5 Whys. We will explore other tools such as:
- Tree Diagrams
- Block Diagrams
- Pareto Analysis
- Is and Is Not Analysis
- Affinity Diagrams
- Relationship Diagrams
- The A3 Report Format (PDCA)
Once you have discovered the Root Cause of the problem and have fixed it, the next step is to create a control system that monitors your processes and warns you if problems occurs. The following tools can be vey effective here:
- The Seven Basic Quality Controls Tools (7 QC Tools)
- The Seven New Tools
- Failure Modes and Effect Analysis (FMEA)
- Statisitical Process Control
RMP specializes in helping organizations with their operations by teaching the various problem solving and decision making concepts and tools that have been proven to be effective in increasing productivity and reducing costs. Click on the seminar grouping below and see our schedule of public seminars.
Rafael M. Pefianco MPM FAAPM is a Mechanical Engineer by training, Master in Project Management, a Fellow of the American Academy of Project Management and an international trainer. He has an extensive background in manufacturing, sales, distribution and training. He has worked both in the government and private sectors. He is an International trainer whose passion is to enable Filipino professionals to reach world class levels by sharing the insights he has gathered working and teaching abroad and in the Philippines. His clients include major manufacturing and distribution companies here and abroad. Please click [Background of Raffy Pefianco] to read more about him.
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