5 Whys Problem Solving

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As another Fiix blogger recently stated, “Equipment failure is not a single event—it is a process.” The truth is, maintenance issues are often caused by a string of technical issues and process failures.

This is why the 5 whys method exists and is used to identify a cause-and-effect failure path as part of a larger root cause analysis.

There were likely many little things that contributed to the failure.

If you want to prevent the problem from occurring again, you have to dig deeper and look at it from all sides.

In Six Sigma, the “define, measure, analyze, improve, and control” (or DMAIC) method aims to use statistical analysis to implement process improvement wherever it’s needed.

Root cause analyses are typically carried out by a cross-functional team so the problem can truly be understood from as many viewpoints as possible. Since the root of a problem is usually multi-faceted and occurs somewhere beneath the obvious problem at hand, this method aims to ask, “Why did this occur?As such, be careful not to turn it into the “5 whos”.To avoid going down the wrong ‘why’ path, ask the following questions after each “Why?For example, you’ll know something is wrong with a piece of equipment if it’s producing material that isn’t to spec.But that’s not where the problem-solving begins and ends.”: Though a 5 whys exercise will expose a root cause, it’s important not to focus all attention on the lowest-level outcome of your analysis.Think of it this way: if you focus all your attention on fixing the lowest rung on a broken ladder, you’ll still have a faulty ladder.If you are not getting to the root cause then you are merely treating a symptom of the problem. This technique gained popularity during the 1970s and it is still used by Toyota and may other companies and organizations today.In addition, if a permanent solution is not determined and implemented, the problem will eventually repeat. The 5 Why method is simply asking the question “Why” enough times until you get past all the symptoms of a problem and down to the root cause.You need to figure out the root cause in order to fix the underlying issue.Using the “5 whys” method, we start by asking why: If we just replaced the damaged fan, the issue would recur. ” while the root cause still has a connection to the original problem.


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