What is a Root Cause Analysis?

A Root Cause Analysis is a Problem Solving method that consists on Finding Solutions to Problems by Looking for What is Causing them.

 

It looks for the Source of a Problem to find a Long-lasting and Reliable final Solution.

  • Instead of focusing on How to Solve or Contain the effects.

 

The Source of a Problem, what is causing it to occur, is referred as it’s Root.

Root Cause Analysis Frameworks

 

There are different Tools that use the Root-Cause Analysis premise to propose Problem-Solving methods.

 

Based on our experience, the best ones are:

  • 5 Whys Method.
  • DMAIC.
  • Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram.
  • CTQ Tree.

 

Let’s explain them in more detail and when you should consider using them:

5 Whys Method

 

The “5 Whys” is a Problem-solving method for identifying Root Causes of problems by asking 5 consecutive timesWhy this happened?”.

 

Goal: Not to settle for the first explanation found.

  • It forces the person applying it to look for deep Root Causes.

 

Visit our “5 Whys Method” Page to learn more about it.

DMAIC

 

DMAIC is a 5-Stage Problem-solving method that analyzes the Variables and Processes involved in a given Problem, proposes different Solutions and establishes Controls to prevent recidivism.

 

Goal: Parametrice Problems and solve them by analyzing the appropriate metrics.

  • It focuses on the definition of Problems.

 

Visit our “DMAIC” Page to learn more about it.

Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram

 

The Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram is a Cause-Effect diagram that helps finding the Root Cause of a problem by studying the different Processes Involved.

 

Goal: List all the Dimensions that contribute to causing a Defect.

  • It analyzes the Variables and Processes that make up each Dimension.

 

Visit our “Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram” page to learn more about it.

CTQ Tree

 

A CTQ Tree is a Tool that helps Design and Improve Products by analyzing what Customers value the most.

 

Goal: Unlike the other methods, this method looks for Root Causes of Success.

  • Rather than Root Causes of Problems

 

Visit our “CTQ Tree” Page to learn more about it.

Now, we will share some helpful examples to give you a better understanding of Why Root Cause analyses are important:

Root Cause Analysis examples

Throughout our professional career, we have seen almost countless examples of Situations in which a Root Cause analysis has been key to solving important Manufacturing problems.

 

Let’s see some of them:

Scratches on Cars - Root Cause Analysis example

 

Many years ago, we were working with an Important Car manufacturer.

 

They had a repetitive problem:

  • They were spending lot of time fixing small scratches and dents on the cars’ paint.

They had been focusing on How to fix all those defects quickly and efficiently.

 

We suggested a different approach: Finding where those damages were being done.

  • They assumed they were caused by employees when assembling the different parts.
    • They also assumed that there was nothing they could do to prevent them.

 

We finally found dozens of locations were the damages were being done.

  • Most of them were being done by not-properly-adjusted assembly robots.

 

Months later, the damages had been so reduced that they practically had no scratches to fix.

Stain on a Countertop - Root Cause Analysis example

 

In case you don’t know, many Kitchen Countertops are created by compressing quartz and resin.

  • As long as they are quartz countertops, of course.

 

One of the most popular colors is white.

But, this color has a problem: Any small stain can bee easily seen.

  • And they cannot be removed.

 

Many years ago, we collaborated with a company that manufactured these Countertops.

 

They couldn’t manufacture this color because all their slabs had small spots.

  • These stains couldn’t be appreciated in other colors.

 

They thought it was due to the old machinery they had.

  • And, there was nothing they could do.

 

However, we proposed to them to find all the places where these stains could originate.

  • Every Root Cause that could cause these spots to occur.

 

After an exhausting year, we were able to identify all the places where these stains originated.

  • Dust from ventilation systems, water drops with oil, etc.

 

They finally could manufacture this color and their sales skyrocketed.

Registration Issues - Root Cause Analysis example

 

Some months ago, we helped a Small Startup that was building an e-Commerce Site.

 

They had very Good products, an attractive Blog…

But their Site was a Nightmare to explore:

  • The Registration process was difficult.
  • Half the time, the site disconnected its users for no reason.
  • The Pages speed was extremely slow.
  • The integration with Social media was a disaster.
  • etc.

 

They had tried to solve these Issues by Installing 5-6 Plugins.

 

However, after a quick research, we found the Root Cause:

  • They were using a terrible Theme and Outdated Plugins.

 

We recommended them a Theme that we thought would be good for their needs…

And now, their Site is working perfectly!

Paint tones - Root Cause Analysis example

 

Not many people know How difficult is to obtain a certain color.

  • And maintain its appearance over the years.

 

We’re not experts in colors but, some years ago, we restructured a Paint Factory.

 

We barely explored the manufacturing Process (because we mainly focused on restructuring its debt).

But they told us that once every few weeks, they have to recalibrate all of their machines.

  • Very carefully.

 

Why? Because years ago, they had a serious problem with one color.

 

One Client was complaining that their “Red” had changed.

They compared the old and the new palette and the Client was right.

 

What happened?

They looked for the Root Cause of the Problem and found that the Weighing machinery was suffering small decalibrations every X months.

 

At the beginning, it was impossible to notice about the change in color.

But, over the years, the difference in color resulted obvious.

  • And even more, if you re-painted a surface with the same color.

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