Getting to the root cause of a problem is essential. One of our Lean Consultants, Martine Denihan recently spoke to me about her time while working as the Lean Lead in Barclay Chemicals Manufacturing. She had been there for 10 years. During our conversation, we were talking about how some organisations viewed errors as opportunities rather than as criticism. In other words, this required leaders to create a no-blame company culture.
8 Steps to Practical Problem Solving
In her early days of their Lean journey, the company thought that it was enough to simply train the employees. This started with the 8 steps to practical problem solving. Following on from this training, they designed standard templates and asked staff members to use them.
Although the company did get some short term benefits, it just wasn’t sustainable. In fact, management recognised more needed to be done. If they truly wanted to eliminate waste, Barclay Chemicals needed to create a problem-solving culture. Certainly, identifying the right behaviours was key. Then, they practiced these behaviours until they became the norm.
8 Step Problem-Solving Process
- Clarify the problem
- Breakdown the problem
- Set the target
- Analyse the root cause
- Development countermeasures
- Implement countermeasures
- Monitor results and process
- Standardise and share success
Production Line Issue
One employee raised a particular issue relating to Line 4A in the production line. The machine capper was not picking up the caps for a 20L container for agri-chemical products. As a result, it caused the machine to automatically stop each time.
Following their 8-step problem solving training, the team drew up a measles map. It highlighted exactly how many times this issue occurred. Consequently, this revealed that there was an approximate total of 1 hour 45 minutes downtime over 4 days for this issue alone.
To clarify, caps that were crushed were not being picked up as the machine was unable to pick up the cap. Therefore, the company noted that damage to the unpicked caps was always in the same position on the cap. After machining the chuck inserts, the company significantly reduced the number of missed caps and downtime on Line 4A. The team reported over 200 incidents on 30th March. But by 6th April, there were no incidents reported.
To sum up, this 8-step problem solving process was also applied to other lines within the company. This process addressed and solved issues affecting the company’s production lines.
Through our Lean Business Program, employees at Barclay Chemicals Manufacturing got the opportunity to learn Lean tools. This included the 8 step problem-solving process. This was supported by a company-wide program of continuous improvement. While this approach took time, the 8 Steps is now the norm. The company have designed their own Barclay template to clarify all the steps including the “Root Cause”.
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