An ISO 9001 certified company strives to maintain the highest level of quality, not only in their product, but also in their processes, which make up their quality management system. One of the key components of an effective quality management system is to continually improve. In order to continually improve, we must first identify issues or areas of concern and, more importantly, their causes.
One practice is root cause analysis, which is defined as a method of problem solving that tries to identify the root causes of faults or problems which, once removed, prevents the final undesirable event from recurring. By practicing root cause analysis, we are able to identify and correct the cause of failures, as opposed to simply addressing their symptoms. The goal of focusing on correcting the root cause of an issue is to prevent that problem from recurring. One way to practice root cause analysis is the 5-Why method. This is a method of asking “why” repeatedly until the root cause is identified.
Once the root cause of a failure has been identified, a corrective action can be implemented. Corrective action is defined as an improvement made to an organization’s processes to eliminate causes of non-conformities or other undesirable situations in an attempt to prevent recurrence. But the process doesn’t stop there. One common corrective action process follows the quality method called PDCA cycle, which is explained in the image below. This method is a systematic way of continually improving. Once a corrective action is implemented, the process is monitored and reviewed for effectiveness. If the action taken does not prevent recurrence of the failure or non-conformity, the process is repeated until an effective method of improvement has been made and verified.
Root cause analysis and corrective action are practiced in response to product non-conformities and customer complaints as well as opportunities for improvement identified during internal audits. Any areas of weakness or mistakes that may be made are opportunities to improve.
Webster utilizes these tools and others to continuously improve our products, processes and people. It’s our link to total value.
Maryann Semer, Quality Administrator