Improving reliability is about focusing on the causes of unreliability. A cornerstone for an effective reliability program is an organizational approach to identifying and controlling these causes.† Root cause analysis is a common term used throughout a variety of industries.† Itís used for equipment failures, scheduling delays, production outages and many other types of issues.† Most organizations inappropriately use root cause analysis to find the single root cause of the issue they are investigating.† This singular perspective creates a right-answer approach that undermines the prevention theme.† Root cause analysis is really the process of identifying the system of causes for an issue.† It is this system of causes that reveals the potential solutions to prevent occurrence.† The objective is effective solutions, not a root cause.† Effective root cause analysis is really a visual process of mapping the system of causes.† This paper outlines the three basic steps of an effective causal analysis:† assessing the value of the incident within the businessí overall goals, developing a visual map of the causes and determining effective solutions.† A demonstration will also be provided on a simple and effective method to electronically document and store the analysis.
Reliability and Problem Solving
There are excellent tools for reliability modeling and analysis available today.† Organizations should take advantage of these powerful tools, but they should first establish an effective organizational approach to problem solving.† Without a basic approach to solving problems, organizations waste time and energy on unproductive meetings and inadequate reports.† Developing a common approach to solving problems is a foundational step in the evolution of an effective reliability effort.† This step should address not only how the organization solves problems but how it communicates problems too.† This paper address the cause mapping approach to what organizations commonly refer to as root cause analysis.† Eliminating the term root may be one of the first steps to improving the organizationís approach to solving problems.† Thinking root cause can be an obstacle because everyone defines the term from his or her point of view.
Prevention is a necessary theme for an organizational approach to problem solving.† Developing a prevention culture at all levels of an organization is a fundamental part of an effective reliability program.† A prevention theme keeps everyone focused on the goals of the organization.† When an organization is not meeting the goals everyone needs to ask why thatís not happening.† A prevention mentality is the opposite of "stuff just happens."† We want to develop a prevention mentality within every person in our organization.† Prevention is both proactive and reactive and applies to the prevention of safety incidents, the prevention of spills and leaks, the prevention of equipment failures, the prevention of service problems and production issues, and the prevention of late deliveries.† Teaching the organization to focus on the goals and communicate in terms of causes develops this prevention perspective.