Root Cause and Corrective Action: Driving Maintenance Efficiency

Many sectors in the manufacturing industry operate on exceptionally thin margins. As such, their equipment needs to function at peak efficiency at all times to avoid stoppages, ensure the line’s productivity and preserve profits. Most companies can drive maintenance efficiency not only by performing preventative maintenance at regular intervals throughout the year, but also by investigating any failures and taking proactive steps to avoid them in the future through a blend of root cause analysis, traceability and corrective action.

Root cause analysis is a methodology that involves understanding how and why problems occur duringthe manufacturing process. It focuses on uncovering and resolving the underlying factors that cause equipment failure and performance issues so they don’t continue to recur. When performed correctly, this strategy allows manufacturers to:


  • Thoroughly investigate equipment problems
  • Determine the underlying cause of failing equipment
  • Increase the reliability and availability of the plant’s equipment
  • Understand why specific problems occurred so they can be prevented in the future

Corrective action involves implementing a solution (based on the diagnosis identified during root cause analysis) to fix the underlying factors so that the organization can successfully avoid the larger problems moving forward.

In an ideal scenario, both root cause and corrective action would be combined with a thorough traceability solution. Traceability involves collecting and storing information about each part as it moves along the assembly line, including the operator working at the time and the program and equipment being used. Armed with this detailed data, engineers can very easily find the root cause of any given problem and take the appropriate corrective action to fix it.

Without the potent combination of traceability, root cause and corrective action, organizations are simply unable to solve equipment and performance problems effectively. Rather than fixing the crux, they run the risk of focusing exclusively on the symptoms. At best, this leaves the door open for a recurrence. At worst, it results in a domino effect that leads to the emergence of even more complex problems down the road.

For these reasons, it’s very important that manufacturers embrace all three methodologies to drive maintenance efficiency and keep their equipment and processes running properly. Not only will this allow the organization to quickly address the underlying factors that are causing the larger problems, but it will also help to prevent unplanned stoppages, equipment failure, processing delays and other issues that can jeopardize the plant’s profits and productivity.


  • James Rawstron

    James Rawstron is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence North America, located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Rawstron has 20 years of marketing communications experience in the software, high tech, industrial, advanced manufacturing machinery and medical device markets. He has written numerous articles for B2B publications, including blogs for a variety of industries. Prior to joining Hexagon, Rawstron served as a web marketing professional at IBM and a Marketing Manager at Vector Software. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and European History from Union College of Schenectady, New York.

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