Dean Gano’s emphasis on finding effective solutions to problems has directly challenged the commonly accepted notion that finding the “Root Cause” is the objective of any problem analysis. It is now appreciated that the identification of a root cause is a means to an end, rather than an end itself.  In fact, the “rootedness” of a cause is a function of an implementable solution being attached to it.

Another valuable characteristic of this method is its efficiency. Having facilitated a substantial number of problem analyses over the past three years, I am struck by the ease with which a team can be made to focus on a problem and avoid unnecessary and wasteful commentary or “stories” as Gano describes them.

The essential problem data, and impacts or consequences, are all acknowledged and documented as a first step in the process. The team members, being the stakeholders or their representatives, agree on the basic premise – the raison d’être –  for the team’s composition and existence is to prevent recurrence of the problem. This process rarely takes more than 30 minutes. Read More →

Upcoming Free Webinars

We will be conducting two FREE webinars in the coming weeks focussing on Availability Workbench and the Reliability performance Plug-Ins

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The need to establish the sequence of events during an investigation of an incident is well accepted. It is the process of creating order from chaos; the ordering of facts as they are understood by the participants, observers and managers, simultaneously and progressively filtered and distilled by available expertise. There is often a lack of information and more data needs to be collected. The process is mired in uncertainty about why and how “it” happened.  The intention of creating a fundamental understanding in order to prevent a recurrence is the ultimate goal.

Once the facts of an incident have been established, the sequence typically shows what happened from the very beginning of the event, or the chain of events which lead to the serious negative consequences.  One thing leads to another as defences break down or are circumvented. James Reason’s Swiss cheese analogy is often quoted. Read More →

Root Cause Analysis has a number of methods and systems – sold as products or tools –  under its umbrella. The simple fact is that RCA is a misnomer which creates false expectations.

One understanding of RCA suggests that it is a process of investigation which will reveal a single cause being the root of a problem, incident, or failure. Equally however, it could be interpreted as the analysis of a Root Cause.  Calling something a Root Cause pre-supposes certain characteristics which enable one to recognise it when it appears on a list or when you inadvertently stumble upon it. Another interpretation of a Root Cause is that it’s the culprit at the very beginning of a problem. Read More →

One definition of Root Cause Analysis  is:
Root Cause Analysis is any structured process used to understand the causes of past events for the purpose of preventing recurrence.

This basic premise is the reason that the RCA is done.

On the surface, it always appears to be a simple matter, however there are always pitfalls and nuances.

One such pitfall that RCA investigators or facilitators face is something I call the “problem is fixed” syndrome. In my work at plants I would run across situations where a problem occurred and a solution was implemented. The particular solution used may or may not have been arrived at by using RCA. In either case the solution is implemented and the “problem is fixed”. Read More →

Jason Apps - Mainstream Perth

The ARMS Leadership team will be presenting around the world at conferences in the coming weeks. Following packed presentations earlier this year at the RCA & RCM Conference in the USA by Mick Drew and more recently by Jason Apps at Mainstream in Australia, the upcoming presentations are varied but all designed to give you valuable insight into how you can improve your asset management program

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NOT Apollo RCA trained!

Many readers will recognize this iconic phrase.  I thought it appropriate for this article, since, if we don’t perform Root Cause Analysis’ and solve problems to root cause, “they’ll be back” again and again.

How do we prevent repeat occurrences of problems? By providing effective solutions that keep your problem from happening.   These solutions are determined through Root Cause Analysis (RCA), a process learned by attending a training course.

Unfortunately people seem to focus more on attending the course than about the institutionalization of the processes into the fabric of a corporate culture.   We all know training for training’s sake is a large waste of time.  The way you get value out of training is if you put what you’ve learned into action.  I have taught RCA for 9 years and have seen the same thing over and over – people leave the class with the improved skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to perform better problem analysis, but it is never utilized.

This issue boils down to triggers.  If you don’t have them, you don’t have a reason for doing RCA.  In today’s fast paced world run by CEO’s with accounting backgrounds and money being the driving factor, most companies’ business plans are sounding more like the one proposed by Billy Connelly;

“… I want it NOW, I want it YESTERDAY, and I want MORE tomorrow – and the demands will all be changed then, so stay awake!” Read More →

When it comes to looking for failures during a Reliability Study or for causes during a Root Cause Analysis investigation, ‘Listen to your operators’.

They are the eyes and ears of your production facility. it doesn’t matter if you are running a chocolate factory, bottling beer, or drilling for oil, they all have one thing in common – operators on the front line.

These valuable members of your team are often the first to notice problems occurring; these problems may only stop the machine once a shift for a few minutes while they go and hit the reset button. These ‘high frequency short duration’ issues often get reported but are not seen or considered as critical because we have not yet witnessed a major stoppage. After all, we hit the reset button and the machine starts again. Read More →

ARMS Reliability has recently employed new engineers for the Australian Operation and to better serve the needs of the Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australian Markets.

Pictured above following their induction week at ARMS HQ are
Les Gibson (NSW), Tim Mortensen (QLD), Nieresh Jeyarajakumar (VIC), Alun Brindle (WA), Chris Young (VIC), Helen Holdsworth (WA) and Adam Rounsley (WA)

Q. Do companies get the most out of the training dollar that they ante up for their employees?

Answer…. No!

Whilst training per se, is perceived to be important, as evidenced by the volume of training that occurs throughout industry, I feel that companies are still not getting “the biggest bang for their buck” from the training that they provide their employees.
Training is provided regularly for employees to attend  for the benefit of the company and also of the employees and in completing the course the employee(s) will leave with some new knowledge and skills or perhaps with prior knowledge being challenged, changed, reinforced or enhanced.
What then happens though when these people get back into the workforce? Do they then apply this new learning or do they go back into their comfort zones continuing to do what they did before?

If there is no compulsion to utilize their training, then it is quite possible that those people who have received the training may not use it, as trying anything new or different often requires more initial effort and it is possible, even probable, that they may get it wrong to start with and become disillusioned by the experience. Practise takes time and we are typically, across industries, time poor.
Unless people are given the time and opportunity to practise, using and perfecting these new skills, then there is the chance that they won’t use it of their own volition.

Is this the outcome that we desire? Read More →