Do we really focus on finding the root cause?
Having spent over 11 years in the automotive industry, working in a cast iron machining environment, I was no stranger to rust. Whether it was found in WIP inventory, at the customer or heaven forbid in our part inventory bank, controlling corrosion was an ongoing challenge. Rust always seemed to be that uninvited guest that would occasionally show up even though you swore you did everything you could to prevent him from coming, and by “everything” I mean all the containment and corrective actions you had every tried after having a rust event.
Add more VCI to the packaging, dip in water based rust inhibitor (wait that didn’t work last time, let’s try oil based, that’s got to work better), dump the fluid out of my washer and recharge every two weeks (from every six months), increase my coolant concentration targets in my machines, blame the trucking companies for holes in their trailers or where they stored the parts at the cross docks. I had tried it all and still that uninvited guest would show up to the party.
It’s funny, when a rust event occurred, I would spend my effort and resources on containment and “shoot from the hip” corrective actions to keep everything going. Often, these actions added operating costs to my process and didn’t always prevent rust from showing up again. If on the other hand, I had a product defect like a part dimension out of tolerance, I would take a completely different approach, focusing on root cause and robust corrective / preventive action. So why didn’t I follow or commit the same resources to rust problem solving?
Looking back, I wonder if the reason I failed to really do a deep dive root cause analysis for rust events was because I lacked two important items, the in-house expertise and the data to review the KPI that could cause rust. If a dimensional product defect occurred, there was no shortage of KPI data or in-house expertise to pull from, allowing us to follow a much more structured approach to problem solving yielding better and more sustainable results.
So the question I ask today is: Do we really focus on finding root cause when rust events occur, or do we find ourselves trapped in containment and “that’s the way we’ve always done it” corrective actions?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below of what you think.
Additionally, we have posted an introductory guide to the rust problem solving process on our website. This is brief guide to help us focus on reinforcing a “process approach” to solving rust events. A process that looks for root cause and sustainable corrective vs containment actions.
if you would like to download a copy.