October 11, 2006 | Mark Paradies

Failure Codes

A recent audit of NASA contractors found that the root causes of many failures were being coded improperly, causing many to be improperly tracked and corrected. For example, when a wire harness was taped instead of clamped, the code “Operational Degradation” was used instead of “Workmanship.” In another example, a finding of “Excessive Corrosion and Rework Damage” was coded as “Environmental Damage”, but no code was assigned that covered the “rework” problem.

Why would these codes be used inproperly? Several reasons may exist:
– There is unclear guidance as to how to apply the cause codes
– There codes are used for multiple puposes. For example, in the cases above, the cause codes are used to apply corrective actions and to assign monetary award levels based on the type of code. Seems pretty likely that someone (who is trying to obtain the award bonus) may “err” conservatively when assigning a cause code!

When your maintenance techs are performing mantenance, they are often required to assign a cause code of some type to identify why a repair was required. What motivations are in place to make your techs put in the right code? Is there a policy in place to determine the code?

Using Equifactor® in conjunction with TapRooT®, the ambiguity disappears. It is no longer up to the whim of an individual with unknown motivations to assign a root cause. TapRooT® assigns root causes based on the information from human performance experts, with little room for bias. By using Equifactor® with TapRooT®, you can obtain consistent root causes that make your results trendable, and therefore useful.

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