Corrective Action Analysis

How to properly format a corrective action report in your shop database

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Maintenance personnel fix things. Things that don’t work as required. From an administrative perspective, it’s called corrective action. This article will deal with how to properly format a corrective action report in your shop database, so that the information gleaned from it can be put to use.

This report will clearly portray specific information about the corrective action that will open our eyes to patterns and trends that typically—over time and many repairs—creates a can’t see the forest for the trees syndrome with repair personnel and maintenance managers who overlook repetitive issues with molds that cause many unscheduled downtime events.

 

The Art of Fixing

Fixing and correcting is all the same work, but a difference or lack of standardized terminology in our documentation practices can occur between the shop floor and upper management, which creates a communication void in trades that is commonly known as black art.

Black art simply means “I don’t know what was done to correct the problem.” This void not only exists between hourly and salary personnel, but also lurks behind the bench among repair technicians concerned with job security.

Skilled trade technicians of any craft, in a competitive manufacturing environment who are not accountable for accurate documentation, are usually not overly accommodating when asked to share secrets/procedures/techniques that took them many hours of blood, sweat and skill to learn and perfect.

This particular mindset can flourish in mold maintenance activities simply because of the nature of the challenge of working with a mechanical apparatus made up of hundreds of inter-related, close fitting tooling, resulting in many ways to disassemble, clean, repair and assemble a mold.

Click here to see chart 1

 

Controlling Costs Requires Discipline

Part of our American maintenance culture that needs to be overhauled deals with the working smarter mantra that many companies promote, but aren’t disciplined enough in maintenance activities to achieve.

And it is only getting worse. As the baby-boomer population retires, their in-depth knowledge of how to fix the things that frequently break or wear out… (e.g., repetitive corrective actions) goes with them, leaving the rookie to figure things out for themselves, and companies to throw new money at old problems. It is imperative to create and maintain individual mold manuals to capture corrective actions and standardize tasks.

 

Working Smarter Means What?

Working smarter in a maintenance environment means documenting and utilizing critical historical information that will provide a clear path to complete a task. Sure there is more than one way to skin a cat, but we must realize that although American maintenance personnel are creative enough to figure out 15 different ways in which to perform a single corrective action, there will be a cost advantage with only a couple of them. And the criteria for which method is best should be based on quantifiable data (labor hours, tooling required and results (mold performance) versus that’s way the way Bob always did it. If the data does not reveal any best practice methods that result in a significant savings/results between techniques, then obviously you don’t need to micro-manage this part of the repair, and let the mold repair technician perform the task in a manner in which they feel most comfortable. But a 20 percent cost difference in maintenance styles is worth looking into.

 

Corrective Action Formatting

Chart 1 is a sample of a typical three-month Corrective Action Report showing 20 (out of 525) corrective action entries.
A properly formatted Corrective Action Report takes typical mold information and separates it into single column headings. These headings (e.g., mold number, product description, defect type, corrective action taken, tooling used, etc.) or any combination of the 18 columns shown in Chart 1 can be placed side by side for easy, visual comparison.

The listings under the headings can then be further sorted alphabetically, numerically (highest to lowest) or filtered on a single word or description. This gives you the ability to drill down and analyze maintenance information that jumps out at you from a broader perspective. This sample report is shown sorted by Corrective Actions (red font column), listed in alphabetical order.

The advantage of this type of reporting is to allow the user to compare several aspects of the data that can expose hidden trends or patterns, which can point to not only possible root cause issues, but also can reveal how specific maintenance dollars are being spent, in the form of polishing, welding, stone, cleaning etc. Also discovered are typical tooling replacement patterns and associated costs.

Chart 2
Corrective Action Listing
Corrective Action Explanation
Count
Replaced
Tooling replaced
287
Monitor
Cavities with flash (1/2 of spec.) put on the Last Shot “watch” list
55
Stone & Polish Tooling
Tooling that creates burrs or drag marks through mold function
31
Polished Tooling
Tooling that needs a high luster for product specification or proper part ejection
29
Clean Only
Tooling that requires cleaning only to correct defect
27
Clean & Inspect Only
Tooling removed, cleaned and inspected visually for defects. none found
15
None Required
No corrective action required...
found nothing wrong with tooling or mold
15
Shimmed In-Press
Tooling shimmed during production run
13
None Taken - No Tooling in Stock
Required tooling not in stock to correct defect
12
None Taken - No Time
No time to correct defect...mold returned to production ASAP
10
Electrical Check---All OK
Electrical check performed in shop. No issues found
6
Shimmed
Shimmed during repairs. Shim thickness in “Notes” section
8
Clean & Measure
Cleaned and document physical measurements of tooling
5
Clean Only In-Press
Tooling that requires cleaning only (in-press) to correct defect
4
Clean Vents
Cleaned vents only
4
Cleaned Metal From Gate

Removed metal that is plugging the gate (metal entered through melt flow)
4
  Grand Total
525
Correction action totals.

 

Curious Summary

Notice the 16 Corrective Action Summary descriptions, explanations and frequency totals in Chart 2. If you were the manager of this shop, or the repair technician working on these molds, several of totals in these listings should pique your interest. By filtering on these Corrective Action terms and comparing molds, press, repair technician, position etc., it will become apparent if more focus should be directed toward these issues of:

1. 31 occurrences of Stone and Polish Tooling

What mold/tooling is causing all the stoning requirements? Are they repetitive? How much money was spent performing this action? Defects blocked-off (lost production)?

2. 29 occurrences of Polished Tooling

Do we have plating issues? Are our polishing practices consistent and standardized?

3. 15 occurrences of None Required

Why not? What was done? What molds/defects were noticed, but required no corrective action? Is it a repeating process issue? Are they press related? Simply sort defects by press to see.

4. 12 occurrences of None Taken-No Tooling In Stock

Find out what is needed and make sure it is on order. Change storeroom Min-Max quantities, if necessary. The report also will quickly demonstrate what defect the tooling you are out of is supposedly correcting. Simply sort the report by cavity position and see if you have repeating defects. If so, it’s time to reexamine your procedures in correcting this defect.

5. 10 occurrences of None Taken-No Time

What kind of time will the toolroom need to correct these issues and when will production let us have the mold? E-mail these issues to your production or process manager, just to keep them in the loop.

 

Saving Dollars with Data

The information discovered about your corrective action methods, costs and results by simply sorting and drilling down is staggering. So many seemingly insignificant mold and part issues can slip through the cracks and cost thousands of dollars through inefficient repair practices and excess tooling usage from a lack of continuous maintenance training and communication voids.

Highlighting mold problems in this manner will reveal areas of potential cost savings through targeting and methodology improvement that will eliminate or reduce the frequency of part defects and unscheduled mold downtime.

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