Jon Bailey

Recent Posts

Software Got You Stuck? Do Not Let RCA Applications Hold Up Your Root Cause Efforts

Let us be clear, root cause analysis is a way of thinking not a software application yet their are sites that are spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours learning software instead of solving problems. Software is not inherently bad but you don't need a sports car to learn to drive.
If you are getting started with your RCA efforts and software is part of your plan then be aware of these potential problems:
Software can limit team involvement: Facilitator is head down in the computer rather than up truly facilitating responses from the team.
Software can slow the flow of ideas especially if it is slow to create or move causes and links: time required to create or edit means other are waiting and forgetting points and causes.
Software can complicate reporting: The simplest and most effective reporting for most sites is the A3 style RCA report which will be the topic of the next blog post.
Computers create barriers between facilitators and the RCA team. If you have to collect the information directly to the software then you should consider a facilitator and a recorder or scribe.
If you can problem solve without the software or by capturing the information after the analysis then here are a few tips and benefits of a software free RCA.
Use sticky notes and a big blank wall or a white board. (3M's Super Sticky PostIt Notes work well)
This allows good group involvement by allowing them to write and share or verbally share and you capture the causes.This gives you two streams of causes in two different communication styles. If two people share the same or similar cause than you stack them and both participants know they were heard. This can be key to good facilitation.
With sticky notes you can start by understanding the sequence of events and include any time stamped data from PLCs, cameras etc. and then once you identify key event, or forcing functions as they are sometimes known, you can transition to fault and logic tree with ease. This will provide a better understanding of the systemic and latent causes of the key event.
With the very hands nature of the sticky method you can move and reorganize causal chains quickly and as you discover new causes they can be added with ease and with out huge disruptions to the flow of ideas. When you are done you simply take a quick picture of the analysis via the ubiquitous cell phone and paste this into your chosen report format. These can then be shared with others electronically.
The point of today's post is not that software is bad. It is simply that it is not required to get started and make substantial improvements in your facility. Many of our student save hundreds of thousands of dollars for their sites using nothing more than the sticky notes and a sound root cause methodology. Once root cause becomes part of your business culture then you can capture, catalog, and share more effectively with the help of software but don't let it hold you back from the start.

Back To The Future...But Stuck In The Past

Click here to see an inspiring message from Doc Brown himself: The future has finally arrived
Here are some thoughts on the matter from our lead coach Brandon Weil:

3 Steps to Turn OEE into a Financial Indicator

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is undoubtedly one of the best indicators of process reliability, but many struggle to connect OEE to the bottom line. How much of an OEE improvement is necessary? How aggressive does my reliability improvement program need to be? Turning OEE into a financial indicator helps us translate these questions into business decisions.

I Wish My Boss Were Here For This Training!

I hear the title quote "I wish my boss were here for this training" or "My boss needs to hear this" after almost ever training session we do. Sometimes it is a leadership or communication class other times it is reliability or manufacturing improvement sessions but the response is nearly the same every time.
I take this quote to mean at least two things:

Congratulations to eStudios!

We are proud to announce that our production studio, eStudios, has won a Telly Award for a humorous video they created about a company's biggest competitor - doing nothing. Staying complacent is is a dangerous and costly way of thinking, and in this slapstick infomercial, we highlight the absurdity of this commercial with the absurdity of actually doing nothing.

Why eLearning Is Your Best Choice

A lot of people are wondering about this new educational phenomenon called eLearning. As technology changes, so does the world, and it is only fitting that the way we teach and learn would evolve with those changes. If you think about it, education has changed very little over the past 5,000 years. A professor teaches a class of students face-to-face. They use books, they write things down on papers, and the teacher writes things on a chalkboard (or something similar), and, well...that is about it. There have been minor advances over the years, most of which have come since the dawn of the 20th century.

Strategies to Survive the Skills Gap

Use technology and human resources approaches to mitigate the effects of the retirement of trade professionals.


Two Things Engineers Consistently Get Wrong

As I think back over the years of site assessments, reliability implementation, and coaching of facilities and engineers globally there are two concepts that consistently show up as weak areas with engineers in manufacturing environments.
The first is true in-depth "root causes" problem solving (this is different than the "engineers jumping to conclusions process" that many employ) and the second is relying on technical solutions rather than culture change to solve problems. They both go hand in hand but are only completed at a precursory level by many.
Let's first look at "root causes" problem solving. (There are more post on this topic here) I have put the quotation marks around it to say that I don't believe that all problems need to be addressed at lowest root causes levels but the problem should be understood to that level so that the engineer truly comprehends the systemic and latent roots or drivers of the problem. These base roots many time rest in the culture of the facility and must be known to truly lower risk of reoccurrence. Secondly there is never just one root cause as there are multiple things that must have existed and instantaneously happen to allow unwanted events to occur hence the "s" on causes. This is why five why and fish bones, which are great for creating a culture of problem solving, are not the tools of serious engineering problem solving. You need to be able to see all of the causal factors that came together to create the event and determine all the possible ways the problem could be addressed to insure a solution is selected that lowers the risk of re-occurrence, creates the best business case, and is sustainable in the long term. Many times engineers go after technical solutions like redesign when the best business case is in changing the culture or behaviors that led to the event.
This brings us to the cultural change piece that is so often ignored as an option. We as engineers are trained to think about technical solutions and therefor many times ignore the people or cultural solutions. Some examples of these technical solutions are replacing a lubricated bearing with a sealed bearing to prevent lubrication based failures or changing adjustable components to fixed designs to prevent operator set up issues. These may be good solutions at the micro level but when the problem is macro and you have 100s of assets and components with these issues and the cost to implement can increase significantly. In these cases educating the work force on lubrication practices and set up requirements, and the included systems and processes can be lower total cost solutions. Behavior change is hard and can take much time and focus but the quantity of defects that can be eliminated or prevented is extensive. So as an example if a bearing failed due to over lubrication and we replace it with a sealed bearing and remove the fitting, a very technical solution, we have eliminated that one failure point but if we tackle lubrication and and the cultural issue of precision maintenance as a whole we can correct lubrication issues more broadly and solve many thousands of over lubrication issues across the facility. We can still bring in technical solutions like UE Systems Grease Caddy to help ease the cultural change process but now we are focusing on causes that lie lower in the casual chain and more greatly reducing risk to the facility as a whole.
So in conclusion, if you are thinking about your personal development plan or that of your engineers you may want to consider developing a strong problem solving methodology that looks both deep into the problem and broadly into the contributing factors. It should have business case thinking weaved through out. It also needs a solid process for execution and follow up. It does not have to be complicated but you will need to provide the training required and ensure that your engineers can execute. And, they must consider the behavior or cultural change solutions with the technical solutions to the problems your facility faces. This will have substantial returns on your effort if you stay the course. Reach out to me if you want to hear the success stories others are having in this area.

What Is A Flipped Classroom?

The flipped classroom is a what is known in education as a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home or work before the face to face class session, while in-class time is devoted to application exercises, projects work, or group discussions.
The video lecture or elearning is often seen as the key ingredient in the flipped approach.
These lectures being either created by the instructor and posted online or selected from an online repository like our Sustaining Skills Video Series.
The notion of a flipped classroom draws on such concepts as active learning, student engagement, hybrid course design, and of course podcasting. The value of a flipped class is in the repurposing of class time into a workshop where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge, and interact with one another in hands-on activities. During class sessions, instructors function as coaches or advisers, encouraging students
in individual inquiry and collaborative effort.
In our situation we have seen where it lowers student frustration associated with first time application of knowledge and improves the ability of the student to apply concepts into their "real world" and specific situation thanks to in session face to face dialogue with the coach/instructor. This tool is used in both our Applied Learning Curriculum and Inspired Blended Learning Maintenance and Reliability Core Skills offerings.

Understanding Asset Related Criticality: Managing asset by criticality (Part 3)

Darrin Wikoff shares the final installment in his three part series on Asset Criticality.

1 2

Upcoming Events