Root cause analysis

Root cause analysis is referred to the process of analysing the effects and symptoms of a process and tracing theses faults, failures and issues back to their root causes of why they eventuated and what actually caused the problem in the first place. Root cause analysis should be integral to a kaizen or continuous improvement business and company culture.

Most problems will surface as a series of symptoms that are visible to the operator, engineers, or management. These can most of the times be caused by a variety of reasons. As with most problem solving approaches the collection of production data and quality statistics is important to get a good understanding of what is happening including any corrective action taken by process operators to try and correct the issue.

Reaching the root of a cause of a problem or issue can be done in a number of ways and can vary in complexity, from a simple investigation/observation and conversation with process workers or engineers to a combination of problem solving techniques that my require many resources.

The most common and appropriate root cause analysis tools are:

-5 Whys

-Fishbone diagrams

-The application of the PDCA cycle

In most cases where the root cause of a problem is not readily visible and will require a combination of any of the three techniques named above.It is important that once the root cause(s) have been found, to test it and check their valididty in the exact or similar way as the PDCA cycle.

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