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Q: We recently have had several occasions of poor troubleshooting, resulting in a lot of lost time and lost product. Are there standard troubleshooting techniques that can help us?
A: Great question. Troubleshooting is essential for the efficient use of purchased assets. There is a basic platform from which all specific techniques originate, and there are several processes that address each phase. The basics of troubleshooting method steps are:
In addition to comparative thinking, other problem solving/analysis techniques you might consider investigating include the "5 Whys" process, Kepner-Tregoe problem solving techniques, Pareto data analysis and Fishbone charting. One of the deterrents to expeditious troubleshooting has been the inability to accurately assimilate human data and machine data into one coherent set of data that leads to the root cause. Both are vital to problem identification and resolution. The people who run your processes are as invaluable in helping resolving problems as data from the equipment. Listen to both!
This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Food Processing Magazine.