23 September 2021
To determine which preventive and proactive actions need to be taken to avoid future problems, RCA is composed of several methodologies, such as the 5-Whys, Ishikawa Analysis, FMEA, and others. All these techniques allow the user to dive deep into the root causes of a failure, to learn from past failures, and thus avoid their recurrence in the future.
Here are six tips, that will help you implement an effective RCA, capable of minimizing the risks of critical failures to a (production) process, all the while saving time and costs to the organization.
RCA is a tool to help us identify the causal relationship between a failure and its effects on an asset, a component, or even a system. Therefore, make sure you have identified the problem thoroughly in terms of significance, gravity, and consequences to all stakeholders before using RCA techniques to identify the root causes of the problem. Once the causes are found, set up an action plan, effective solutions to repair the causes. Lastly, track the solutions you used to evaluate their effectiveness.
Can you imagine how hard it can be to determine the root causes of a failure when past corrective operations, as insignificant as they may seem, have not been recorded and therefore do not appear in any records, nor data? Imagine this non-reported maneuver is the root cause for a critical failure, but cannot be identified as such with RCA because the work order has never been recorded? Make sure you record every event and operation, no matter how little or how minor the downtime has been.
Don’t misunderstand RCA for a ‘must have’ and thus underestimate the time the root cause detection needs;
Don’t jump to conclusions, to corrective actions too early in the detection process only because you intend to gain more time and see RCA as a time-consuming method with a minor added value to your company. Instead, set yourself a monthly standard/limit of RCA examinations based on your company’s needs.
Make sure the stakeholders and members of an RCA study are in the boat from A to Z to avoid solutions not being implemented because the purpose and need of the solution are not understood correctly. Also, make sure that the actions you intend to implement after RCA do not affect other parties of the production cycle negatively; if so, your solutions might not be the right ones.
Similarly, to point 2, it is important that you track the solutions you have chosen: For future purposes, but also in terms of project management since some implementations can take years. Also, make sure you don’t give up on your solutions because more urgent matters have arisen.
6. Empower your people
This last tip refers to the management of change. Whenever new things arise and people must face change, the best method to ensure a smooth and effective transition is to empower your people. Show them, that they will gain something from the change, this new solution; that this is a win-win situation for all the stakeholders involved.
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