December 26, 2019 | Mark Paradies

Root Cause Analysis of Equipment Reliability & Maintenance Problems

Ken Reed Teaching

Finding Equipment Failure Root Causes

What is the most common method of equipment failure root cause analysis?

  • 5-Whys?
  • Failure Modes and Effects Analysis?
  • Fault Trees?

The real answer as observed in the field is … GUESSING!

In other words, no formal root cause analysis is performed. The maintenance technician guesses at an answer and tries a fix. If the problem goes away (at least temporarily), the root cause has been discovered. If it does not go away, guess again!

This application of “guessing” as the primary tool for root cause analysis of equipment reliability and maintenance problems is probably the biggest challenge to achieving equipment reliability excellence.

Troubleshooting IS NOT Root Cause Analysis

One of the first problems I observed in helping maintenance professionals find root causes was that they didn’t have the knowledge they needed to start finding root causes. They were trying to find root causes BEFORE they completed troubleshooting the problem.

What is the difference between troubleshooting and root cause analysis?

Troubleshooting is trying to discover the physical or equipment cause of the failure. For example, if a pump is producing less than the rated flow, we might want to know why. If we discover that the impellor on a double volute pump was installed backward, we have completed the troubleshooting of the problem. We can reinstall the impellor and the problem will be solved. But we haven’t found the root cause of the failure.

The Causal Factor is:

“Technician installs impellor installed backward”

But that Causal Factor is just the start of the root cause analysis. We need to take that Causal Factor through the Root Cause Tree® Diagram to find the root cause (or more likely, root causes) of the error.

The Root Cause Tree® is a systematic process to find the root causes of equipment failures after the investigator has completed troubleshooting the problem.

First, we troubleshoot the problem using Equifactor® Troubleshooting and then we find the root causes using the Root Cause Tree®.

Equifactor® Troubleshooting

What is Equifactor®? A troubleshooting tool developed by System Improvement based on Heinz Bloch’s troubleshooting techniques.

Heinz Bloch – Equipment Reliability Expert

Here is a simple flow chart of the process:

The troubleshooting process includes troubleshooting tables for:

  • Equipment (pumps, compressors, fans, blowers, electric motors, conveyor belts, …)
  • Manual Valves
  • Components (bearings, gears, gear couplings, mechanical seals)
  • Electrical components

It also includes two techniques developed by Heinz:

  • Failure Modes
  • Failure Agents

This troubleshooting process is built into the Equifactor® Steps for Troubleshooting and Analyzing Equipment Failures shown below.

Troubleshooting using Equifactor® is taught on Day 1 of the 2-Day Equifactor® Troubleshooting and TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Course.

The information gained during the troubleshooting is added to a SnapCharT® Diagram that displays what happened. Using the SnapCharT® Diagram is also taught on Day 1. An example of an equipment failure related SnapCharT® is shown below…

Equipment SnapCharT®

Notice that the Causal Factor (Mechanic installs impeller backward) is included on the SnapCharT®.

Root Cause Analysis

How do you find the root causes of the mechanic installing the impeller backward? That’s a topic covered in the 2-Day Equifactor® Troubleshooting and TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Course on Day 2 when the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree® is taught.

Would you like to learn how to find root causes using the Root Cause Tree®? Sign up for the 2-Day Equifactor® Course being held prior to the 2020 TapRooT® Summit.

Equifactor® Course Info

When is the course being held? March 9-10.

Where is the course being held? At the Horseshoe Bay Resort near Austin, TX.

How can you register? CLICK HERE.

What is the registration fee? $1,425 for the course. But you can save $200 by registering for the 2020 Global TapRooT® Summit and the course at the same time. The cost of attending the course and the Summit is only $2320.  CLICK HERE to register for both.

Summit Info

Why should you attend the 2020 Global TapRooT® Summit? To learn best practices and network with people attending the Achieving Excellence and Reliability Track. What are the session is this track? Here a list:

  • Management Best Practices
  • Improving Your Manufacturing Processes
  • What Has TapRooT® Done for Weatherford?
  • TapRooT® User Success Stories
  • Convincing Management – How Much Does It Cost?
  • Using TapRooT® to Improve Meetings and Minimize Waste
  • Lessons Learned and Sharing Results

In addition, there are five Keynote Speakers:

  • Astronaut Jim Wetherbee
  • Frank Abagnale, The Real Catch Me If You Can Guy
  • Mark Paradies
  • Don McMillan
  • Marcus Miller

And before you return to work, you will develop a roadmap to success for implementing a plan to improve your troubleshooting, root cause analysis, maintenance excellence, and equipment reliability.

Multiple Attendee Discounts

There are even more savings when you sign up three or more people at once to attend the course and the Summit.

Don’t wait. Use the links above to register today!

Equipment Reliability / Equifactor®, Root Cause Analysis Tips
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