From The Little Black Book of Reliability Management

Root Cause Analysis

Last, but certainly not least on the list of reliability tools, is Root Cause Analysis. It seems unlikely that an organization will be successful in improving reliability using any of the other tools or techniques, without first mastering Root Cause Analysis (RCA). The important characteristics are rigor and discipline. RCA provides an organization with the rigor needed to adhere to a structured process, and the discipline needed to gather and use appropriate and accurate data.

The importance of being able to find the true root cause cannot be overemphasized. Even large, well-established organizations, that are confident in their analytical capabilities, frequently do not have the ability to find root cause or the self-reflection needed to recognize this limitation.

Returning to the hierarchy that was described earlier, one has to understand the true Failure Mode to identify the actual Failure Mechanism. Beyond that, one needs to understand the Failure Mechanism to begin to drill down and identify the various levels of root cause.

When pursuing the root cause, the "physical cause" will always appear first and be most evident. Physical systems and components cannot speak for themselves so they are always first to be blamed. How many times have you heard, "That old thing, it always breaks down?"

No physical device ever designed itself, operated itself, inspected or maintained itself, so a human has to be involved in the failure at some point. It is important to emphasize that humans are involved in creating the causes of failure,...

Products & Services
Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Services
Computer-aided design (CAD) services assist in the computerized design, three-dimensional (3D) modeling, and printing and drafting of engineering components and assemblies.
Chemical Testing Services
Chemical testing services test, analyze, and certify a wide range of chemicals for purity, chemical compatibility, and environmental impact.
Condition Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance (PdM) Software
Condition monitoring and predictive maintenance (PdM) software is used to predict equipment maintenance, and to monitor corrosion, oil condition, bearing wear, overheating and other parameters than can lead to the breakdown of capital equipment.
Product and Component Testing Services
Product and component testing services is the evaluation of a finished product or component through performance in electrical, life, environmental exposure, dynamic, ergonomic or other specialized tests.  Also testing to standards such as UL 489, CE or MIL-STD 810.
Foam Bonding Tapes
Foam bonding tapes are specialized tapes designed for adhesive joining of foam materials.

Topics of Interest

Typical Malfunction Reporting and Defect Analysis System Figure 1: Flow chart for malfunction reporting and failure Malfunction Reporting and Defect Analysis System Steps Step Who Development...

If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong. Charles Kettering The terms "Root Cause Analysis" or "Root Cause Failure Analysis" have become quite popular over the last several years.

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) can be a very powerful tool for eliminating defects and increasing efficiency and profits. After witnessing hundreds of RCA efforts in every different type of organization...

OVERVIEW What failure is How hardware fails How software fails How environment effects failure rates Functional failures Systematic failures Common cause failures Root cause analysis 2.1 A...

Root Cause Analysis Handbook: A Guide to Effective Incident Investigation, 2005 Edition Presenting a proven system designed for investigating, categorizing, and eliminating root causes of incidents,...