Four Steps to Improve Your Root Cause Analysis Program

Learn four key tools that help to decrease maintenance costs and improve your RCA program.

Improving Your Root Cause Analysis Program In Four Steps

Implemented correctly, Root Cause Analysis (RCA) identifies the defect, categorizes the major variable causes, and uncovers cause and effect relationships between root causes and symptoms of the end failure. Preventing major failures not only impacts revenue (unplanned downtime can cost organizations thousands of dollars per hour), but it can also prevent injury and save lives.

Regrettably, many organizations take a firefighter approach to reactive maintenance: battling to put out fires without addressing the cause of the fires. This tactic leads to ongoing maintenance costs and is a major reason companies don’t see the results they are looking for with their asset management programs.

In this eBook, we will explore four key steps that help to decrease maintenance costs and improve your RCA program.

root cause analysis steps

More about this eBook

To start, what is root cause analysis (RCA)?

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a comprehensive problem-solving approach used to determine the underlining causes of non-desired performance. The “root cause” in RCA is the source for a particular failure or process breakdown.

An analogy would be the common cold. While headaches and coughs are symptoms of catching a cold, the virus is the root cause. Root cause failure analysis (RCFA) is often used interchangeably with RCA but is usually referenced specifically for mechanical or equipment failure.

What you’ll learn in this eBook

Common reasons root cause analysis programs fall short
Many organizations lack a consistent RCA process and do not work to identify and address the root cause and prevent the failure from reoccuring. There are numerous reasons why an RCA is underperforming, including inadequate training, ineffective trigger points, or lack of ownership.

Why standardized processes are essential
Program standardization is crucial for any successful long-term RCA strategy. Formal processes protect against assumption-based decision making that hinders effective solutions.

How to establish a holistic root cause analysis team
The RCA team should include maintenance, operations, quality, process engineering, and personnel familiar with the equipment or process under investigation. Holistic teams bring diverse perspectives and knowledge to the RCAs and deter siloed thinking approaches that can overlook important clues.

Tying triggers to company objectives
Triggers should reflect your facilitation resources – the knowledge of your facilitators, the financial funds and time accessible to deliver the fixes, and the availability of stakeholders to join the RCA investigation.

Closing the loop
While teams often conduct RCAs to determine root causes and propose corrective solutions, frequently there is little follow-up to measure if the corrective action(s) results in measurable improvements – or if they have even been implemented at all. It is this final stage of root cause analysis, “closing the loop”, which determines the overall effectiveness of an investigation and prevents the failure from repeating.