December 19, 2007 | Ken Reed

The Brainstorming Dilemma

Equipment troubleshooting requires a very logical though-process.  You have to understand the operation of the equipment not only by itself, but also in the context of the rest of the system.  A thorough knowledge of the equipment design specifications and the operating environment is required.

Most companies, when faced with a particularly stubborn problem, get their experts together in one room, discuss the problem, and then start listing the possible causes of the issue.  Fault trees and troubleshooting tables are referenced, and component technical manuals are available.  Then the fun begins.  Possible causes are listed up on the board, and then a troubleshooting plan is put together.

But where do these possible causes come from?  How do your troubleshooting experts arrive at their possibilities?  Invariably, this list is a compilation of the experiences of the troubleshooting team.  Each individual thinks back to when he’s seen these symptoms before, remembers what caused it that time, and then lists that problem as a possible cause.  This is the natural method of finding problems, and it is fundamental to good troubleshooting.

But what happens when a problem is outside the experience of the troubleshooters?  What if this particular fault is not caused by something familiar to the team?  How can they possibly find the cause?  If nobody has ever seen this problem before, it is very difficult to try to think of new possibilities.  Usually, this is discovered after many hours (days? weeks?) of troubleshooting, and all expected possibilities are proven wrong.  That can be a significant amount of wasted effort.

What we really need is a reference that will give you a list of possible causes for the symptom you are seeing.  Where would we get a magic reference like that?  Hey, that’s what Equifactor® does!  Instead of only looking for the “normal” reasons for a particular symptom, Equifactor® lists a whole range of “unusual” reasons for the failure.  At the end of a difficult troubleshooting effort, ever hear your team say, “That’s a new one on me!”  Using Equifactor®, you would no longer be surprised by these “unknown” failure modes.

Start out your troubleshooting sessions with a complete list of possible causes.  Use Equifactor right from the beginning, and reduce your downtime!

Root Cause Analysis
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