What is “defect elimination” and a “Defect Elimination program”?

“Defect elimination” analyzes the defect, and then implements corrective actions to prevent future similar defects.

A “Defect Elimination program” is a structured process companies adopt to become more consistent and reliable in eliminating defects. It forms part of a broader Quality Improvement program.  It’s a systematic approach to apply defect elimination consistently across the operations of a company, for any opportunities that present themselves as worthy of the effort.

The worth is commonly determined by comparing the effort to resolve the defect to the consequences of a defect occurring. A common approach is to define the consequences using a risk matrix that categorizes severity and likelihood of occurrence as the parameters.

At the core of any Defect Elimination program, is a Root Cause Analysis process. A Root Cause Analysis process applies a problem-solving methodology to identify and control the root causes of these “defects”.

A company may choose to have a single methodology or to have a choice from a number of different methodologies to accommodate the various complexities, significance and nature of problems. When deemed appropriate, a methodology can be chosen from a list approved by the company and then used to analyze the incident or accident that has occurred.

The effectiveness of a Defect Elimination process can be affected by the quality of the initial Root Cause Analysis, and correspondingly by the selection of corrective actions that were implemented.

If the analysis is sound but poor choices were made as to which corrective actions to implement, then the result may not be satisfactory and the problem may reoccur.

If the initial analysis of the problem is of poor quality, resulting in the problem not being fully understood, then the effectiveness of any corrective actions is also likely to be questionable. The end result being that the solution was ineffective and the problem will likely reoccur.

The benefit of standardizing on a particular methodology is to ensure everyone is using the same repeatable approach to analyze the “defects” and help manage the quality of the analysis to a consistently high standard. A common methodology allows you to judge whether the process is delivering the outcomes you need.

It allows you to assess whether:

  • You have the right process,
  • If it is being used
  • If it is being used properly
  • If actions are being taken in a timely fashion.
  • If enough resources are available.
  • If people understand what is required of them.

By eliminating defects we should reduce the overall cost of running the facility, which would provide an advantage over our competition. By eliminating defects, productivity and safety of a plant can be improved. This would increase profits and/or market share and potentially move a company into a more competitive position.

All companies have problems. It’s how effectively we learn from these problems and what we put into place that prevents problem reoccurrence that allows companies to move forward.

If we choose to do the same things for the same problems that keep reoccurring, then are we really learning? Are we standing still in the sense that we aren’t doing anything different?

In this current economic climate, if you aren’t trying to do things more effectively and efficiently and to do more with less, then we are standing still and the “opposition” is likely to make some inroads into your business.

In summary, an effective root cause analysis process is fundamental to any “defect elimination” program. It forms part of a broader economic focus on achieving the best possible returns for a company.

The key elements that underpin an effective root cause analysis process are:

  • Standard process for any type of problem
  • Clear definition of a problem and its significance in measurable terms
  • Creates a common understanding of why the problem has occurred.
  • A visual chart that shows cause and effect relationships aids widespread understanding.
  • Allows and encourages challenges when the reason something occurred is not understood.
  • Provides for establishing a range of solutions and picking the Best solution.
  • Can create a report for sharing simply in a consistent report format with common elements.
  • Every solution is attached to a cause.
  • Learning the method is easy
  • Reinforcing the method is easy.
  • Sharing successes is easy.

If we consider the adage that “people don’t plan to fail, they simply fail to plan” and then apply this to a company, the same sentiment should hold true. Sound planning is the key to success. Effective planning and implementation of a defect elimination program lie at the core of most successful companies.

To start controlling the ‘root causes’ of defects, register for an upcoming RCA training course.

2 Thoughts on “Root Cause Analysis and Defect Elimination

  1. Good day

    May you please give me a clear difference between defect elimination and root cause analysis.

  2. Ian King on May 14, 2015 at 1:14 am said:

    Before you really start getting into ‘defect elimination, you really need to define and agree on what a ‘defect’ is. It can either be the result of the consequences (symptoms) of ‘root cause’, or the root cause itself. I’ve found that if you start getting people to see the root causes as defects, then defect elimination takes on a whole new meaning – eliminating root causes rather than eliminating symptoms. Test it out for your self.

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