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Various Special Cause Problem solving methods used in Manufacturing Industry

Most of the consumer market products such as high end  electronic products,  smartphones , tablets  and computers need to go through a series of complicated manufacturing process to become a final consumer product.  This finished product could go through various manufacturing processes at different global locations with thousands of process steps across a multiple supply chain.

Each process step is consists of inputs, process and output which is could be repeated thousands of times to make a product.
  • Inputs -  elements which involve in product creation
Man – Operator who make the product
Machine -  equipment which is needed to make the product
Method -  work instruction on how to make the product
Material -  raw material or semi raw material needed to make the product
Measure -  Inspection and test  needed to check product quality
Environment -  Temperature, humidity, electrical static discharge  (ESD) which could impact product


The process itself  -  series of unit operations/work and decision taken to transform raw material to a product  

    Outputs - WIP to final product  which will eventually being sold



Given the complexity  of the processes and multiple tier of supply chains to bring the product to consumer market,  it is very rare to find all process are well executed with no issues from start 1st tier supply chain to final product.  Along the way it is inevitable to have special cause problems (unpredictable)  in process inputs which could cause sudden spike increase in defective product,  therefore systematic problem solving approach had been created.  (Refer to my previous  articles to know more about special cause).  Systematic problem solving approach such as 8 discipline could trace its roots to the automobile industries before the era of digital world.  Later on with the boom in electronic manufacturing,  companies such as Dell and HP had adopted this systematic approach  to resolve problems which happened in manufacturing process.  Over the years organization such as Dell had modify the 8 discipline (8D)  into more simplify 5 C format.

All good problem solving approaches should have the following criteria in systematic order :-
1. Understand and problem description
2.  Short term to contain problem from impacting customer
3.  Find root cause of the problem
4.  Establish action plan (corrective and/or preventive action) to address the      root cause
5.  Validate the effectiveness of the action  plan

Three of the most common problem solving approaches  use in manufacturing industries are  8D, 5C and 7 steps.  The table below compare them against each other to check if there any differences or actually they are the same per table below.  I have also include templates of those problem solving approach in the resources where you can download and use. 

Items
8D
5 C
7 Steps
Background
Developed  by Ford motors
Developed by Dell
Simple to use
Unknown
Popularity
Most common used in electronics and automobile industry.  Over the years several big organization modify the steps slight to suit its need
Dell and its supplier
General application beyond manufacturing
What are steps
Define team
Describe the problem
Develop Containment Action
Determine root cause
Develop corrective action
Develop preventive action
Verify action
Congratulate team
Characterize
Containment
Cause analysis
Corrective action
Closure

Problem statement
Goal
Present status
Analysis
Root cause
Corrective action
Monitoring


From the table below, all three problem solving methods  have the 5 systematic order and actually there is no difference if 5C, 8D or 7 steps.

Events
8D  Steps
5 C  Steps
7 Steps
Identify team/ understand problem
Define team
Describe the problem

Characterize
Problem statement
Goal
Present status

Short term plan to contain problem from impact customer

Develop Containment Action

Containment

Present status
Find root cause of the problem

Determine root cause

Cause analysis

Analysis

Develop action plan to address problem root cause,

Develop corrective action
Develop preventive action

Corrective action/preventive action

Corrective action
Verify action plan effectiveness
Verify action
Congratulate team
Closure
Monitoring

Refer to this video on problem solving for more details.  


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