The root-cause methodology allows us to leverage past learning and problems to drive our industrial products and materials towards innovation. In this article we will conduct a root cause analysis, explain what it is and how we can use it to benefit forensic engineering.

What is root cause analysis?

Root cause analysis is defined as a method that describes a wide range of approaches, tools, and techniques used to discover the causes of problems and prevent them from happening in the future.

Learning from the root cause gives us the ability to anticipate and prevent potential failures by improving our ability to innovate in the industry. The root-cause methodology can be applied to new product designs, to the process of incremental updates and to the process of reviewing materials, thus accelerating it.

In theory, root cause analysis is simple, but in practice it requires a skillful methodological aptitude, which is fundamental in forensic engineering.

Root cause methodology

There are several approaches and methods used in root cause analysis. Some are visualization tools, which help discover the root causes by presenting the information in a new format. Other approaches begin with the causal factors to arrive at the true cause of the problem. However, each method helps to probe beneath the surface and shows us the operations in a new light.

Below, we present the main root-cause methodologies:

Barrier analysis

This root cause analysis technique is often used in the industrial sector. Since errors occur when barriers fail, barrier analysis is used to determine which barriers failed and why.

Root cause tree

The tree of causes starts from the main event (the failure) and, with a retrospective view of the facts, begins to trace back through the facts to the causes of them.

Analysis of changes

It is based on analyzing all the changes that may cause the event or problem. This method is extremely effective when there are a significant number of possible causes.

5 whys

It is a Japanese method of analysis that looks for the cause of the problem from five questions that begin with a why. Each “why” generates successive questions that begin with another “why” until reaching the root cause.

Fishbone diagram

In this method, also known as the Ishikawa diagram, a fishbone cause and effect diagram is used to try to identify possible causes. It is a very useful diagram to open group discussions in the search for the problem.

Kepner Tregoe’s method

The Kepner Tregoe method is a method in which the problem is disconnected from the decision. It uses structured theory to obtain and evaluate information and prioritize risk.

Root cause application in forensic engineering

The root-cause methodology has a direct application in the industry, in materials and therefore in forensic engineering. It can be applied in the design of new products, in the process of incremental updating, as well as to accelerate the review process through the following steps:

1. Root cause analysis step: Define the problem

The first step is to clearly define the problem in question. Once the problem definition is outlined, it should be reviewed by the forensic engineering team of the materials involved in the root cause analysis process to establish its accuracy and feasibility.

2.Root cause analysis step: Collect as much data

Then, one must gather all the evidence and information possible around the problem to understand it in a comprehensive way.

3. Root cause analysis step: Locate the causes

Once all the data, both quantitative and qualitative, have been collected, each of the causes identified must be reviewed and an attempt made to pinpoint the root cause behind the issue.

4. Root cause analysis step: Find solutions

In this step, it is a matter of arriving at the resolution of the root cause identified above.

The solution can be of two types:

  • Corrective solution: short-term or provisional measure to solve the problem. This solution addresses the “direct” and “obvious” cause of the problem
  • Preventive solution: reflective and long-term resolution that targets the root cause and prevents recurrence.

5. Root cause analysis step: Create strategies and plans to implement the solution

Once the solution has been defined, the plan for incorporating it must be devised. This step requires establishing:

  • The activities needed to implement the solution.
  • The necessary resources for the activities to be carried out.
  • A program of activities.
  • The users responsible for the activities.
  • Any other additional aspect around the application of the solution and its variables.

6. Root cause analysis step: Monitor the solution and confirm its operation

This last step is essential in the process of implementing the root cause. It is about regularly monitoring the solution after its implementation, ensuring that it remains viable and thus, does not allow the root cause to happen again.

In conclusion, it should be added that forensic engineering is of the utmost importance in the industrial sector when it comes to preventing and solving problems that may otherwise be disastrous. If you are thinking of looking for a forensic engineering team, do not hesitate to contact us. You can also visit our blog to keep up to date with the latest developments in the sector.