How Using Root Cause Analysis Can Improve Your Equipment Reliability
When your equipment malfunctions mysteriously, you can count on root cause analysis (RCA) to take care of it. The RCA treatment is exactly what you need if you want to treat the problem rather than just the symptoms. Using this method, you can identify, understand, and solve the root causes of frequent unplanned downtimes.
What Is Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA)?
Root cause failure analysis (RCFA) is a process used to identify the underlying cause of a problem or failure. It is typically used when the exact cause of a failure is unknown or when multiple factors may have contributed to the problem.
The investigation of failures of components, systems, or processes can be conducted using RCFA. This method aims to identify the root cause(s) of the problem so that corrective action can be taken to prevent future failures.
In contrast to troubleshooting, which often involves trial and error, RCFA examines physical, human, and organizational factors that may cause equipment failure.
Types of Causes
- Physical causes – It is the tangible and material items that failed in some way.
- Human causes – When people fail to do something that was needed or do something wrong. When human causes lead to physical causes.
- Organizational causes – People make mistakes because of faulty systems, processes, or policies.
Many different techniques can be used for root cause analysis, but the basic process usually involves four steps:
1. Identifying the problem or incident.
2. Gathering data and information about the problem or incident.
3. Analyzing the data and information to identify root causes.
4. Developing and implementing solutions to address the root causes.
The Benefits of Root Cause Analysis
An essential benefit of RCFA is identifying the underlying causes of errors and coordinating with teams to correct and prevent them from occurring again. As a result, the final product is less prone to defects and rework.
Here are the additional benefits of performing RCFA:
- React Fast to Problems
With RCFA, you can respond quickly to a problem and prevent it from spreading. Additionally, you should be able to make decisions quicker and better.
- Prevent Problems From Happening
Once you have performed an RCA and taken steps to prevent problems from occurring again, you can develop the mindset to look for issues. It could be possible to avoid any problems before they arise.
- Improved Communication
More details allow you to communicate why the problem occurred and work with your team to develop informed solutions.
Effective Root Cause Analysis Methodologies for Equipment Reliability
Many different root cause analysis methodologies are available, but not all are effective for equipment reliability. When choosing a method for your RCA project, it is essential to consider the specific needs of your equipment and your organization.
One RCA methodology that is often used for equipment reliability is the five whys. This technique asks why the problem occurred five times to get to the root cause.
The Fishbone diagram is another valuable tool for equipment reliability. This diagram is used to identify the potential causes of a problem and then organize them into categories.
Let’s discuss how to use these RCFA methods.
What Is the 5 Whys Analysis?
The five whys method entails analyzing a problem and repeatedly asking “why?” until the issue’s core cause becomes apparent. Because of the system’s limitations, it works best for straightforward problems with a limited number of implicit causes.
This method breaks a problem down by asking why it occurred five times. By doing this, you can get to the root cause of a problem quickly and effectively.
Here is the sample illustration of 5 WHYS.
- Why was the project incomplete? There’s no proper equipment to use.
- Why is there no proper equipment? The equipment is not working
- Why is the equipment not working? The equipment has no power
- Why does the equipment have no power? The extension wire is not plugged into the main power.
- Why is it not plugged into the main power? The employee pulled out the wire extension.
Root: Pulled out the wire extension.
By asking why the problem occurred five times, you can get to the root cause of the problem quickly and effectively. This method will help a lot, especially if you want to know your business equipment’s reliability.
What Is a Cause and Effect Fishbone Diagram?
The fishbone diagram is credited to Kaoru Ishikawa, who used it for the first time while employed by the Japanese firm Kawasaki. The Ishikawa diagram is the name given to this quality management tool in recognition of its developer. Due to its resemblance to the skeleton of a fish placed on one of its sides, it was later called a “fishbone diagram.”
A fishbone diagram, sometimes called a cause-and-effect diagram, aids in identifying the primary cause of a problem in an organization’s business operations. The problem is represented by the fish’s head in the chart, while each spine bone represents one of its possible causes.
This root cause analysis tool also aids in coming up with the best solution to solve the issues the organization is currently experiencing.
Image Source: Vekteezy
What Industries Use Root Cause Analysis and How?
Using root cause analysis offers organizations problem-solving methods and supports decision-making thanks to its wide range of tools. There are a variety of industries where root cause analysis techniques are commonly used, including healthcare, telecommunications, information technology, and manufacturing.
1. Health and Safety
It is used in the healthcare industry to identify the causes of events that led to undesirable outcomes, such as patient injuries and drug side effects. The analysis is used to increase patient safety and take corrective action to stop similar situations from happening in the future.
2. IT and Telecommunications
Using RCFA methodologies in IT and telecommunications enables the identification of the underlying reasons for problematic services or resolving recurring issues. In procedures like incident management and security management, analysis is frequently applied.
4. Manufacturing and Industrial Process Control
Besides assessing equipment reliability, manufacturers use RCFA to pinpoint the major causes of maintenance and technical failures. The industrial process control industry uses root cause analysis techniques to control chemical production quality.
5. Systems Analysis
Due to its ability to solve problems, RCFA has been successfully used in areas like risk or change management. RCFA is the best method for system analysis since it is also appropriate for studying firms, figuring out their objectives, and developing procedures to achieve those objectives.
Root cause analysis is a tool that any operation can use to improve their equipment’s reliability significantly. Taking extra time at the end of a job to document the issues that arose, then using that information to improve future operations will be well worth the time in the long run.
This preventive approach can save organizations time and money by avoiding equipment downtime and repair costs. Root cause analysis can also increase safety by spotting and eliminating risks before they can result in accidents or injuries.
Plus, you’ll be able to identify potential equipment weaknesses that you can address with preventive maintenance checks. All in all, it is certainly an investment worth making.