Problem solving

Problem Solving - Stanwick
Business & operational excellence

Are you facing issues in the production process that sometimes pop-up while not knowing the root cause of it? Are you facing customer complaints more frequently than you want? Do you know the difference between sporadic and chronic problems? And do you know what tools to use in which case?

Over the years, many different problem-solving methodologies were developed with at least four logical steps as common ground:

  1. Define the problem>
  2. Search for root causes (Root Cause Analysis)
  3. Find solutions for the root causes
  4. Secure the solutions in the organization.

These 4 basic steps are sometimes spread over 4, 5, 7, 8, up to 20 steps. The differences between the methodologies lie in the emphasis on the tools to be used

The selection of an adequate problem-solving methodology should be based on 3 criteria:

  1. The type of problem at hand
  2. The subject of the problem
  3. The target group of people dealing with it.

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Type of problem at hand

There are 2 types of problem: chronic and sporadic.

  • Chronic problems are designed-in problems, you always have them. The 5 step process DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) was developed especially for chronic problems with Root cause analysis tools as brainstorming,”5 Why’s” and cause and effect (“Ishikawa”) diagrams.
  • Sporadic problems are popping up from time to time, regularly but not continuously. It is our experience that most technical problems in industry and also complaints are sporadic in nature. Still, many companies only use the above mentioned 3 tools for chronic problems. The IS-IS NOT tool was developed specifically for these situations and has proven to be more effective and more efficient in solving sporadic problems. It can replace the D,M and A phases in a DMAIC project.
The subject of the problem
  1. Quality, cost or process related technical problems can be solved using the tools discussed above. The I phase is mainly based on brainstorming about the solution(s) of the found root cause(s).
  2. When time and waste reduction are the main topics, then the Lean Manufacturing approach is the best choice. Although the 5 steps of DMAIC can still be followed as an overall problem-solving process, the analysis of the root causes and the solutions towards time and waste will be based on the typical Lean tools such as value stream mapping, “7 wastes”, Single Minute Exchange of Dies for change over, bottleneck management, line balancing, supermarkets and 5S.

When the subject is a complaint, then the 8D methodology (8 Disciplines used mainly in automotive and pharmaceutical environment) is a good problem-solving guide. Some dedicated topics such as containment actions (D3) and preventive actions (D7) are more emphasized than in other methodologies. In the D4 root cause analysis originally the IS-IS NOT was mandatory, later on also “5 Why‘s” and Ishikawa were added. For purely technical problems Stanwick still recommends the IS -IS NOT tool in the D4. Food for thought: a complaint which comes back from time to time does not mean it is a chronic problem!

The target group of people dealing with the problem

For operators and first line supervisors, a “Yellow belt” approach of the DMAIC is developed using only the qualitative tools. Also, SCRA (Symptom, Cause Remedy, Action) can be used for this group.

For process engineers the “Green belt” and “Black belt” in 6-sigma are also covering quantitative/ statistical tools.

how does Stanwick help the business consultant?

  1. We set up a training and coaching program to familiarize your employees with the right tools and their applicability
  2. We support your employees during the project to get a maximum result within a predetermined time.
Kurt Maegherman

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Let the data do the talking, not the engineers.

Kurt Maegherman