IDCON INC Reliability Tip: How to Use Root Cause Problem Elimination (RCPE) during Corrective Maintenance

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Scenario: Imagine you work in a mill as a mechanic and get a work order that states: Replace bearings on a press roll due to high vibration level. You complete the work and the damaged bearings and seals were replaced according to the plan. The machine was started up and is now producing paper again. See the images of the damaged bearings below:

damaged bearing
damaged bearing
damaged bearing
damaged bearing

Let’s use this is an opportunity to do an informal Root Cause Problem Elimination (RCPE). What do you see? Let’s say you don’t have a lot of experience with bearings in this application.  We know that this area is frequently washed down to remove pulp.  Here are some clues:

  • Corrosion due to water in the oil
  • Correct seals for the application
  • Correct seal material- what chemicals are used for cleaning
  • Bearing fit of the shaft
  • Mounting procedure for bearings 

You have now identified some possible causes so it is time to verify what caused the failure. Let’s check them off one at a time to get down to the Root Cause. Every corrective work order is a RCPE on a smaller scale. Of course, if this is a major problem it should trigger a formal RCPE.

Root Cause Problem Elimination (RCPE)

IDCON is convinced that the process of analyzing and eliminating the root causes of failures is a powerful tool for improving plant reliability. So, instead of the more common term Root Cause Failure Analysis we use the term Root Cause Problem Elimination. We find this better defines the outcome that the plant wants.

RCFA (Root Cause Failure Analysis) is the process of investigating how an equipment failure, process problem, quality problem, safety incident, environmental incident, and many other problems in a plant happened. RCFA is also commonly referred to as Root Cause Analysis or RCA.

What problems can you use RCPE for?

The bottom-line is that it can be used to solve many types of problems from equipment problems to safety/environment incidences.  This type of problem solving can and should be used across the organization.

Download your free RCPE guide.