Quality Tools: focus on the 8D method
You have probably already heard about a lot of tools used in Quality: 5M, QRQC, 5 Whys, 8D... These different tools are problem solving techniques that can determine the causes of a malfunction. 8D is widely used in the world of automotive industry, at the supplier quality assurance level.
- Now how to implement this method within your company?
- What are the steps to follow?
The 8D method, originally from the FORD brand, is powerful and collaborative because it will allow you to rely on the experience of all your employees. These multiple exchanges will allow you to go back to the root causes of the problems detected in your company.
This method consists of several steps that will be described in this article.
STEP 1: Initialize the process
Form the working group
The first step is to define the working group according to various criteria such as the experience of the problem, the availability of people, or the ability to work in group.
The size of the group will depend on the nature and complexity of the problem, but you should be careful to solicit all the functions involved.
Designate the facilitator
The working group should be led by a person in charge of group facilitation and results monitoring.
It shall not necessarily be the quality manager!
Define and present the methodology
Once the working group has been established and the facilitator is appointed, you will have to present the methodology that will be followed for the analysis.
The presentation of the method needs to be based on the 8 steps of the 8D method. For each step it is necessary to specify the working methods, the expected output data (the goals) and the associated responsibilities.
If quality tools must be used during the analysis (Five Ws, 5M, 5 Whys ...) you will then present their implementation procedures.
STEP 2: Describe the problem
Once the working team has been identified, the problem analysis can begin.
The point here is to describe the problem, and this description must be as exhaustive as possible in order to build a constructive analysis.
It is thus necessary to clearly state the problem, namely:
- Identify its effects, characterize the depth of the problem;
- Register the associated records (plans, control sheet, report, complaint form, technical sheet, etc.).
- Facilitate a brainstorming session based on the Five Ws to fully describe the problem.
Step 3: Correct the problem immediately
The problem is described and identified, but it is a matter of qualifying it in order to undertake the immediate corrective actions.
These immediate corrective actions can be: products blocking tests to be performed, drafting of non-compliance sheets, changes in measuring equipment, or destruction.
Step 4: Analyze root causes
Once the problem is "controlled", it is a question of determining the causes to put in place corrective actions.
Here again, the use of quality problem-solving tools will help you: for example, the 5M, along with the 5 Whys will help define the root causes.
In order to identify the primary causes, you must identify all possible causes of the problem. Identifying these causes may require the observation of facts in the field or the additional tests.
Step 5: Define and implement corrective actions
Root causes are determined, at this stage you must therefore define and implement corrective actions to eliminate the detected causes.
It is rare to be able to eliminate the causes of a problem with a single action. To achieve this, you have to define a whole action plan by identifying the deadlines and the associated managers.
Records of all these steps should be maintained on a dedicated tool (8D sheet) or in a general follow-up tool for non-compliance and improvement actions.
You will keep a record of the main information about:
- The description of the problem;
- Immediate action (s);
- Identified cause (s);
- Details of the corrective actions;
- The effectiveness criteria, the goals to be achieved;
- The results of the action(s)’ implementation.
Step 6: Measure the effectiveness of corrective actions
Once the actions are completed, you will need to evaluate their effectiveness. This is to make sure that the original problem and its effects did not reoccur.
For this, you can use field audits or evaluations for example.
If the expected goals are not achieved, the continuous improvement loop is restarted
Step 7: Standardize improvement actions
This is to standardize effective corrective actions in other processes.
In this case, the actions to be taken will not be corrective (since there is no problem yet) but preventive. Their implementation modalities are similar to those established for corrective actions.
Among the preventive actions usually undertaken are:
- Updating methods and tools (plans, processes, tools, etc ...);
- Staff training;
- The modification of infrastructures.
Step 8: Congratulate the working group for its contribution
The 8D approach takes time and effort. It is imperative to thank the participants for their contribution.
The process should be closed by recalling the main points of the analysis, the good practices implemented (and the bad ones), the results obtained as well as the difficulties encountered.
Each participant must be kept informed of the consequences of the process, even those who are not included in the monitoring of the action plans. The motivation of your employees is at stake and thus the durability of your 8D analysis, which without their collaboration cannot be carried out.
No matter what tool you want to use, it's important to structure your approach and involve your employees. The goal is to react quickly to a problem by eradicating its root causes.