Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA)

Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA)

Root cause analysis is an approach for identifying the underlying causes of an incident so that the most effective solutions can be identified and implemented. It’s typically used when something goes badly, but can also be used when something goes well. Within an organization, problem solving, incident investigation, and root cause analysis are all fundamentally connected by three basic questions:

  • What’s the problem?
  • Why did it happen?
  • What will be done to prevent it from happening again?

Types of causes

  • Physical causes – Tangible, material items failed in some way.
  • Human causes – People did something wrong, or did not do something that was needed. Human causes typically lead to physical causes.
  • Organizational causes – A system, process, or policy that people use to make decisions or do their work is faulty.

RCA looks at all three types of causes. It involves investigating the patterns of negative effects, finding hidden flaws in the system, and discovering specific actions that contributed to the problem. This often means that RCA reveals more than one root cause.

You can apply RCA to almost any situation. Determining how far to go in your investigation requires good judgment and common sense. Theoretically, you could continue to trace root causes back to the Stone Age, but the effort would serve no useful purpose. Be careful to understand when you've found a significant cause that can, in fact, be changed.

Types of RCA

  • Safety- based RCA
    • Investigating accident, occupational safety and health.
    • Root causes: - unidentified risks, or inadequate safety engineering, missing safety barriers.
  • Production-based RCA
    • Quality control for industrial manufacturing.
    • Root causes: - non-conformance like, malfunctioning steps in production line.
  • Process-based RCA
    • Extension of Production-based RCA. Includes business processes also.
    • Root causes: - Individual process failures
  • Systems-based RCA
    • Hybrid of the previous types. New concepts include: - change management, systems thinking and risk management.
    • Root causes: - organizational culture and strategic management

Arrelic Root Cause Analysis Process

  1. Secure Evidence from Component failure (Monition to advise)
  2. Gather data/evidence
  3. Identify issues that contributed to the problem
  4. Carry out relevant visual or physical tests
  5. Find root causes
  6. Develop solution recommendations
  7. Implement the recommendations
  8. Observe the recommended solutions to ensure effectiveness.

Key Points on RCA

  • Root Cause Analysis is a useful process for understanding and solving a problem.
  • Figure out what negative events are occurring. Then, look at the complex systems around those problems, and identify key points of failure. Finally, determine solutions to address those key points, or root causes.
  • You can use many tools to support your RCA process. Cause and Effect Diagrams and 5 Whys are integral to the process itself, while FMEA and Kaizen help minimize the need for RCA in the future.
  • As an analytical tool, RCA is an essential way to perform a comprehensive, system-wide review of significant problems as well as the events and factors leading to them.

Why RCA Initiatives Fail in most of the industries?

  • Team Selections
  • Inadequate failure analysis
  • Inaccurate information
  • Too many recommendations
  • Analyzing with wrong tools
  • Lack of RCA Leader ownership
  • Poor execution

Root Cause Analysis Benefits

  • Determine root causes to critical failures
  • Eliminate re-occurrence of key failures by implementing maintenance or design changes
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Improve Asset Longevity / Reliability
  • Problems are not repeated
  • Reduce rework, retest, re-inspect, poor quality costs, etc.
  • Problems are prevented in other areas
  • Communication improves between groups and Process cycle times improve (no rework loops)
  • Secure long term company performance and profits

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