January 22, 2019 | Mark Paradies

The Equifactor® Equipment Failure Troubleshooting Process

A Troubleshooting Process

To achieve equipment performance excellence, you must learn from equipment failures and make sure they don’t become repeat equipment failures. The following information about the Equifactor® Equipment Failure Troubleshooting Process is from the upcoming book, Using Equifactor® Troubleshooting Tools and TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis to Improve Equipment Reliability by Ken Reed and Mark Paradies. It is copyrighted material and is used here by permission of the authors.

Types of Failures

There are three types of equipment failures. They are:

  • Failures that don’t require troubleshooting.
  • Failures that just require troubleshooting.
  • Failures that require troubleshooting and root cause analysis.

Let’s explain the three types.

The first type of failure is a very simple failure (like a burned-out light bulb). It doesn’t require troubleshooting or root cause analysis. You just replace the bulb. You don’t need this book or these tools to do that.

But what if the bulb keeps burning out every day? Then you have a problem. The frequency of the failure is too high. You need to find out the cause behind the repeat failures. It is time for troubleshooting and root cause analysis.

However, if the failure is somewhat beyond the simple example (a burned-out bulb), but does not have serious consequences, the equipment troubleshooter may choose to apply just the equipment troubleshooting techniques described in Chapter 4 without applying the entire TapRooT®/Equifactor® process. This is the second type of failure.

Other examples of the need for formal troubleshooting techniques and root cause analysis are when failures have unacceptable consequences. For example:

  • The failure is part of a significant environmental release.
  • The failure leads to a serious injury or fatality.
  • The failure causes major plant downtime.
  • The failure causes unacceptable quality issues.
  • The failure is expensive (equipment damage, repair costs, …).

In these cases, management may want a thorough investigation of what happened. In these cases, the entire process on the previous page will be applied as part of the failure investigation. That’s the third type of failure.

Your department or company should develop guidance for field personnel on the types of failures that require no troubleshooting, simple troubleshooting, and troubleshooting plus root cause analysis. Then you can keep things simple by just applying the tools that you need.

Guidance for the level of investigation to apply in different circumstances is provided in the book: TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Implementation, Appendix A, by Mark Paradies & Linda Unger, Copyright 2017 by System Improvements, Inc., Knoxville, Tennessee.

Find Out What Happened

The first step in any investigation is to find out what happened. In an equipment failure, this starts by finding out what was being done before the equipment failed and drawing a preliminary SnapCharT® of the sequence of events leading to the failure. That’s the first step in the process outlined above.

Below is an example preliminary SnapCharT® of an equipment failure…

Preliminary SnapCharT®

Troubleshooting a Failure

This is the step where you use the tools in the Equifactor® Troubleshooting System. These tools include the Equifactor® Equipment, Manual Valve, Component, and Electrical Troubleshooting Tables; Failure Modes; and Failure Agents (FRETT). The tools are organized in the Equifactor® Troubleshooting Guide shown below.

Equifactor® Troubleshooting Guide

The guide and tools provide a systematic process to troubleshoot an equipment failure and find the information needed to develop an effective repair.

The information gained during troubleshooting is added to the SnapCharT® to provide a complete understanding of what happened that leads to the identification of the failure’s Causal Factors.

Deciding to Continue

Some equipment failures are serious enough that you will want to perform a root cause analysis. Some are trivial, and a simple replacement of the part or equipment is all that is needed. In this step, you decide how much effort (none or more) you will expend finding the failures’ root causes. The decision is based on your judgment. You need to decide if there is something of value to learn by expending the effort needed to find and fix the failure’s root causes.

If you decide that there is nothing more to learn, you stop the analysis and simply repair the equipment. The basis for the decision to stop or continue is described in more detail in the book.

Finding Causal Factors

If you proceed to this step, you have decided that there was more to learn. The first step of this learning process is to identify the equipment failure’s Causal Factors.

By this point in the process, you have developed an “Incident” (the circle on your SnapCharT® Diagram). You will learn that the circle is the worst thing that happened during the sequence of events that you are analyzing. Often, the Incident is more serious than the equipment failure. It could be:

  • Loss of production
  • More extensive equipment damage
  • Environmental release
  • An explosion or fire
  • An injury or fatality

Thus, Causal Factors may include actions that go beyond simple equipment failure and usually will include issues related to human performance. That is why this book goes beyond the Equifactor® Troubleshooting System and includes the essential TapRooT® System Techniques.

The book provides more guidance on the identification of equipment failure-related Causal Factors.

Finding Equipment Failure Related Root Causes

Anyone familiar with the TapRooT® System knows that the next step in the TapRooT® Process is finding the specific root causes for each Causal Factor. To do this, you use the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree® and Root Cause Tree® Dictionary.

The Root Cause Tree® is a systematic analysis tool to guide you to the root causes of human performance and equipment-related root causes. The book provides detailed information about using the Root Cause Tree® to find root causes.

Developing Fixes

The “fix” referred to in this step is not just replacing a component. The fix refers to the corrective actions needed to address the specific root causes and keep them from repeating. Thus, these fixes eliminate the causes of the failures (both human and equipment performance-related) that allowed the failure to occur.

The book details how to develop these effective fixes using the Corrective Action Helper® Guide or Corrective Action Helper® Module of the TapRooT® Software.

Repair Equipment

This is the step that most technicians are the most familiar with. However, in this case, we may need to address the root causes of the failure and implement all, or some, of the corrective actions developed in the previous step IF we performed a root cause analysis.

If you decided there was nothing more to learn, this step may be just a simple replacement of the failed part, component, or equipment.

This step, including simple ways to decide how many of the corrective actions need to be implemented before repairing the equipment, is detailed in the book.


That’s it! You have completed the “troubleshooting” and even proceeded to the follow-up steps. This completes the use of the Equifactor® and TapRooT® Tools and helps you develop a much more comprehensive and successful plan to improve your equipment’s reliability. Now that you have a good overview of the troubleshooting and repair process, would you like to learn more?

Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting and Root Cause Analysis Training

Ken Reed Teaching

Ken Reed has completely revised the 2-Day Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting and TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Training. The first revised public course is being held at the Horseshoe Bay Resort near Austin, TX, on March 9-10.

Would You Like To Attend?

Reserve your seat NOW! CLICK HERE to register and hold your spot in the course.

But There Is MORE

You can save $200 off the course price if you also register for the 2020 Global TapRooT® Summit being held on March 11-13. Get more Summit info here:


And register for both by CLICKING HERE.

Equipment Reliability / Equifactor®, Root Cause Analysis Tips
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