Reliability - Root Cause Analysis

Jun 16, 2017 10:18:13 PM

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Problems Your Maintenance Department May not be even aware of

The reliability of operations, equipment and plant installations is paramount in the ability of a business to continuously produce product and revenue. The high reliability of operations and equipment should be the norm for a planned future period, beyond which it can be expected that failures or some kind of deficiencies may start to arise. 

Quite often, plant and equipment fails, unexpectedly and often there is often no understanding as to why the failure occurred.

Maintenance departments focus on the restoration of operations, ensuring that production can resume, but long term there is often a failure in attempting to explain the incident of breakdown, relating to a recurrence of the problem. The deficiency occurs, often repeatedly, since the root cause of the initial failure was not determined nor addressed, consequently the probability that the event will recur is higher than should be the case.

Explaining the direct technical cause of an incident, whether process,  product or equipment failure is not sufficient.  Looking beyond the technical cause and identifying the underlying systemic cause, with verifiable evidence, is imperative to improve future reliability. Root Cause analysis must drill down beyond visible technical reason for a problem.

Managers and Operations staff need to be equipped with a thinking processes to drill down to root cause effectively. In drilling down to root cause, they need the ability to collaborate effectively with all stakeholders ensuring that co-operation between stakeholders is positive and non threatening.

KEPNERandFOURIE CauseWise was developed specifically to ensure that the problem can be managed in a collaborative process, allowing drill down beyond technical cause. Implementing a collaborative root cause analysis process will require the following high level steps to be followed

A Logical Thinking Process

The RCA Thinking Process

Gather Information

Identify the Problem

Organise Information

Find Root Cause

Analyse Information

Take Action to Fix the Problem


Prevent Recurrence

 Implementing a proper root cause analysis thinking process has the following advantages:

  • Reduction in time spent doing root cause analysis
  • Production operations can be restored quicker
  • Improved Collaboration between stakeholders
  • Lower Probability of an Incident Recurring.


Adriaan du Plessis

Written by Adriaan du Plessis

Johannesburg, South Africa | Managing Director of the Global IT CSI Practice
Adriaan provides consulting, facilitation and implementation services for root cause analysis, decision making and business improvement as well as people development using proven KEPNERandFOURIE™ tools and techniques. As a world-class facilitator he focuses on the use of a divergent set of improvement and thinking tools to assist businesses to enhance value, specifically in Root Cause Analysis, IT Root Cause Analysis and Decision Making.


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