Paper360 - July/August 2015 - (Page 18)
Root Cause Problem
Elimination... or Only Analysis?
Restricting root cause determination to only engineering
departments can hamper implementation of solutions and limit its
use to smaller day-to-day problems.
TOM IDHAMMAR and TIM DUNTON
In many organizations, the responsibility for determining root cause lies with the
engineering department. The result is often that
while problems are analyzed in order to find root
causes, implementation of the solutions is left to
area maintenance and/or operations personnel.
A second problem created by an engineeringonly focus is that root cause thinking then tends
to only be used for large, visible failures, but not
for smaller day-to-day problems.
We believe that 80 percent of all reliability
problems can and should be solved by the frontline organization, which includes supervisors/
team leaders, operators, maintenance crafts
people, maintenance coordinators and planners
representing both operations and maintenance.
In a "best-in-class" maintenance organization,
up to 30 percent of all hours should be used to
do Root Cause Problem Elimination (RCPE) in
one form or another.
To apply root cause on the shop floor,
the process must be simple, easy, and above
all else, practical. The RCPE process fits all
RCPE is first and foremost a thinking process.
Determining how and when to apply the critical
and creative thinking needed to eliminate problems will have more influence on a successful
outcome than determining the tools or software
used to document and communicate the results.
In some cases these tools may actually stifle the
thinking process and are counterproductive.
Whatever the methodology, all use a similar
thinking process: state problem, collect data,
identify possible causes, select/verify causes and
KEEP IT SIMPLE
A good problem statement is critical to a successful outcome and is usually best if there is
Paper360º JULY/AUGUST 2015
one object and one problem. It must always be
a fact, and initial evidence should be used to
refine this statement. Too broad or vague a statement can lead to a very broad and potentially
time consuming analysis, or one that is too
narrow and will possibly miss failures.
For example, a problem statement that says
"hydraulic system not working" may be a fact,
but is too broad. If instead it was "hydraulic
cylinder extending too slowly," this narrows the scope of the analysis to something
It is also important to separate problems
from symptoms. For example, in the statement "the pump is not delivering enough flow,
it sounds as if it is cavitating and the bearings
are hot," the real problem is that the pump is
not delivering enough flow. The cavitation
sounds and hot bearings are just data points
or evidence and should not be included in the
TREAT IT LIKE A CRIME SCENE
Practically speaking, data collection occurs
throughout the analysis process. Initial data
collection helps frame the problem statement
and develop the possible causes. Further data
collection may be required to eliminate possible
causes and to determine the best solutions.
Facts to be collected include:
* Exactly what happened?
* Surroundings, environment, pictures, data?
* Where is the object exactly?
* Where exactly on the object is the problem?
* When was it first noticed?
* Pattern (random, cyclic, constant)?
Changes in time
* Events, modifications, changes, updates?
Other Similar Objects
* Similar items available to study and compare?
* Similar situations to compare?
The above should be determined through
a variety of sources. It is important to get onsite quickly and collect as much information
as possible. It is also important to understand
* What happened?
* How does the machine work?
* How does the work process work?
* How does the production process work?
* What was the interaction between personnel?
Figure 1. The RCPE vest with tools to collect field information.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Paper360 - July/August 2015
Over the Wire
Root Cause Problem Elimination…or Only Analysis?
Steam Profiler Gets New Lease on Life
From Reactive to Proactive
TAPPI Journal Summaries
Kemira Expands its Global Business and Humanitarian Reach
PEERS Offers Opportunities for Optimization
Index of Advertisers
Paper360 - July/August 2015