RCFA (root cause failure analysis) is your secret weapon for resolving mysterious equipment malfunctions. Root cause analysis is the way to go if you want to treat the illness rather than the symptoms.
It’s a method for identifying, understanding, and resolving the root causes of frequent unplanned downtimes for your most critical assets.
What Is Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
Root Cause Analysis, or RCA, is another term for RCFA.
RCA aims to prevent recurring problems by addressing their root causes. In finding the source, the process follows a chain of causes and effects.
What Is the Process of RCA
Root cause analysis can assist you in understanding what occurred, how it occurred, and why. The procedure will require the 3 R’s:
- Recognize: When an asset fails, a simple observation may not be enough to determine the actual cause of the event. What you see is merely a symptom. Determine the root cause of the problem to avoid future occurrences.
- Remedy: Take corrective action once you’ve identified the root cause of the problem. After that, watch the asset to see if the problem reappears. If the problem reoccurs, your team most likely mistook a secondary cause for the primary reason. In such cases, return to the drawing board and conduct a more thorough RCA.
- Repeat: Finally, replicate successful solutions with similar assets in other locations. It will help prevent the same errors from occurring in other facility areas.
It’s also worth noting that you can use RCFA when faced with unexpectedly positive results. In this case, RCA can assist the organization in replicating the results to improve productivity in other areas.
The Advantages of Root Cause Analysis Tools
The primary advantage of conducting root cause analyses is obvious: no more recurring problems! What’s not to like about that?
Organizations can use RCA to transition from short-term to long-term solutions for inconvenient asset breakdowns. You’ll be able to address the source of downtime and improve equipment reliability. However, there are some less obvious advantages to RCA, such as:
Reduced Maintenance Costs
It is costly to keep fixing the same equipment problem. Long-term solutions minimize emergency repair costs over time.
Good preventive maintenance can reduce the number of failures and increase the availability of complex systems.
Prioritization of Maintenance Tasks
RCFA assists in prioritizing maintenance activities for a facility’s most critical assets. It frees up time for more essential business tasks. Management will be able to determine better which maintenance tasks have a long-term impact on uptime.
Increased Dependability and Safety
OSHA regulations require employers to manage risk. RCFA enables organizations to provide safe working environments by removing issues that endanger employee safety.
RCA also ensures that consumer products are safe, high-quality, and defect-free.
Delays in a product can release harm to market share. Constant equipment breakdowns have an impact on production timelines.
Tools for root cause analysis make it easier to deal with equipment breakdowns and improve product availability.
Improved Team Communication
Teams that use root cause analysis tools can better articulate how and why common problems occur when writing standard operating procedures.
RCA improves maintenance management operations and the company’s bottom lines when carried out correctly. Employing root cause analysis techniques exposes the root cause of communication failure in your pipeline. You can make a solution out of the findings from the root cause failure analysis.
How to Organize an Easy Root Cause Analysis
Step 1: Identify the Issue
Determine the issue that must be resolved. What exactly is going on, and what are the symptoms?
Create a problem statement that includes a detailed description of the problem.
Include any available data that will help to clarify the facts. The reliability assessment should thoroughly explain the problem to your problem-solving task force.
Step 2: Gather Information
Next, try to fully comprehend the failure, its causal factors, and root causes. Use the SMART principle to ensure the information you gather is specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound.
Data collection includes information about the problem’s existence, duration, and impact on the organization. Maintenance information worth gathering includes:
- Age of the asset
- Instruction manuals from the manufacturer
- Operating characteristics of the machine
- Features of the working environment
- Scheduling and planning in continuous operation
- Patterns of operation and maintenance history
- Machine operators and maintenance personnel in charge
Step 3: List All Potential Factors
It’s time to get organized once you’ve gathered enough information about the problem. Create a structured method for analyzing your data to identify any knowledge gaps.
At this point, you’re trying to figure out the following:
- The sequence of events that resulted in asset failure.
- Environmental factors may have played a role in the loss.
- Any other issues that arose as a result of the primary collapse.
Make a causal factor chart chronologically describing the events leading to maintenance management and the surrounding conditions.
The more details your causal factor chart has, the more detailed it will be. Identify as many causal factors as possible rather than settling on one or two.
Step 4: Determine Your Root Cause
Next, look into why the causal factors exist to find a definitive reason for asset failure. Your RCFA process must be thorough enough to identify the root cause of failure analysis to be adequate and relevant.
When looking into root causes, keep in mind that they should be:
- Hidden: Root causes are only sometimes obvious. The goal is to identify specific underlying reasons that you might otherwise overlook. The more detailed the root cause is, the more quickly we can find solutions.
- Cost Effectiveness: Root cause failure analysis should be cost-effective. Only devote resources to a process that will yield long-term solutions to a problem.
- Controllable: Concentrate on root causes that management can realistically address. For example, management has no control over severe weather as a cause of delayed deliveries. The root cause you identify should allow the team to develop specific recommendations to address the problem.
It is important to note that RCFA assumes that all failures and systems are interconnected. As a result, a single action can set off a chain of events. Tracing these events lets you determine where the problem began and how it led to the failure you’re dealing with.
Root Causes of Different Types
Did you know you can identify more than one type of failure reason? The three types of root causes are as follows:
- Human Causes
Failure can occur due to mistakes made by machine operators, maintenance technicians, industrial maintenance, and other individuals. Physical causes are frequently the result of human causes. For example, car brakes may fail due to a mechanic’s failure to refill the brake fluid.
- Physical Causes
These are the causes of a material item failing. For example, your vehicle’s windshield wipers lose traction over time.
- Causes in Organizations
Business processes, systems, and policies all contribute to poor decisions. For example, the mechanic assumed a brake fluid refill was unnecessary because the vehicle’s maintenance checklist did not include it.
Step 5: Do Something
Finally, implement solutions to address the identified causes to avoid future occurrences. Your answers must be actionable, attainable, and measurable.
Questions to consider include:
- What steps can we take right away to resume normal operations?
- How can we prevent this issue in the future?
- How will we put the solution into action?
- Is the solution expensive or risky?
- Who will be held accountable?
Keep in mind that a single problem can have multiple solutions. Remember that if the problem persists, you may need to redo the failure root cause analysis. Unfortunately, when confronted with new evidence, it is common to revisit earlier conclusions.
Root cause analysis is a robust process that allows a company to pinpoint the source of a problem. Effective RCFA processes can significantly improve a plant’s performance by implementing long-lasting solutions.
Manufacturers must understand failure analysis and be ready to respond when something goes wrong. As a result, they will be one step closer to identifying the root cause of their problem and recovering from it.