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8D problem-solving method in a factory

Solving problems is an essential part of industrial daily operations, and the 8D method might just be what you need to optimise your processes and increase the value of your whole chain of production.

Today, we talk about how the 8D process helps you identify, fix, and prevent problems so you don’t have to deal with costly downtime and customer complaints.

What is 8D?

8D is a very robust problem-solving method that follows eight steps to help you identify, fix, and even anticipate recurrent problems.

This process was developed in the 80s by Ford and used to improve its manufacturing process.

Today, it’s a tried-and-tested approach that features in many factories across different industries.

How does 8D work?

As its name suggests, there are eight steps to follow to implement this process successfully:

8D Problem Solving Method

Step 1 — Establish the team

The first thing to do is to establish a team.

This team should be effective and knowledgeable. It’s important that its members have the skills they need to be able to fix the issue.

To make sure that you’re taking a comprehensive look at the issue, it’s a good idea to include members from other departments too.

When you have your team ready to go, you need to brief them properly on the issue at hand. 

Step 2 — Describe the problem

To describe the problem, you need to work with facts. And the best way to get these facts is by gathering data and information.

Some useful information would be where it happened, when, and what impact it had on safety, production, quality, etc.

When you’re describing the problem, you need to be as specific as possible, and let factual data guide you — leave all opinions and emotions out of the process.

Step 3 — Interim containment action

When your team is ready and you’ve described the problem as specifically as possible, it’s time to take interim containment action.

This is a temporary solution you need to implement to prevent the issue from worsening while the team works on a permanent solution.

Some typical interim containment actions are stopping production or isolating the affected area.

Step 4 — Identify the root cause

Here’s where we call on a great method we’ve seen before — Root Cause Analysis.

At this stage, you identify the root cause of the problem using an approach that suits the situation. 

If the issue is relatively simple to fix, you can use the 5 Whys method, and leave RCA for more complex problems.

This is the time to identify the underlying cause of the problem, and not just treat the symptoms.

Step 5 — Plan, develop and verify corrective actions

After identifying the cause, it’s time to plan, develop, and verify corrective actions.

To do this, you can carry out a brainstorming session with your team members.

Whatever solution you decide to implement, you need to test it first.  to make sure that the problem will get solved, and that it won’t happen again.

Step 6 — Implement permanent corrective actions

When the corrective solution has been tried and tested —and it’s clear it works— all you have to do is implement it!

To do this, you need to make sure your solution is fully integrated into your processes and clearly communicated to every relevant stakeholder.

This ensures everybody’s on the same page with the changes you made to implement the solution.

Step 7 — Prevent recurrence

Once everything’s fixed and everybody’s on board with the changes, you need to make sure the problem doesn’t come back.

To do this, you need to implement preventive measures. Some examples are updating standard operating procedures, scheduling training sessions, or auditing certain processes regularly.

Step 8 — Close the problem and celebrate your team

When you close the problem, it’s very important that you thank the team for their effort.

Acknowledging their hard work keeps everybody productive, motivated, and focused.

What does 8D look like in real life?

Imagine a factory just received a factory complaint about a product they received with the wrong characteristics. Let’s say it was the wrong colour. This is the problem we need to solve. Let’s go through the steps:

Step 1 ― Assemble your team and gather information about the problem (why is the colour wrong? Where did things go wrong? Was it a mechanic issue?)

Step 2 ― Secondly, describe the problem as specifically as you can

Step 3 ― Take interim containment measures. In this case, your action is contacting the customer and offering them a replacement product free of charge

Step 4 ― Find the root cause of the issue. Because it’s fairly simple, you use the 5 Whys and find out that the root cause was a miscommunication between departments

Step 5 ― Your team plans, develops, and verifies corrective action, which in this case, consists of implementing a new communication process. They test it, and it works

Step 6 ― Update the standard operating procedure that the affected departments use to communicate, and let everybody involved know

Step 7 ― Prevent the problem from happening again by conducting regular training sessions, and you have your departments perform regular audits of their new standard operating procedures

Step 8 ― The team is recognized for their hard work and dedication to solving the problem and improving customer satisfaction

Advantages of the 8D problem-solving method

The 8D method is a very robust problem-solving tool, but despite the obvious —it solves problems— there are more benefits to this approach than meets the eye:

Structured approach — Because the 8D method always uses the same eight steps, managers can rely on it to solve problems in a methodical, structured, and predictable way. This means no surprises and no downtime having to figure out what the next step is, which allows everybody to focus on the problem at hand and solve it quickly.

Root Cause Analysis — By implementing RCA, you make sure you’re dealing with the root of the problem, and not just treating the symptoms. This means you can also implement preventive measures to prevent the issue from surfacing ever again.

Collaborative environment — This method encourages collaboration and teamwork. The first step is to assemble a team to deal with the problem, fostering cooperation among team members and stakeholders. This translates into more comprehensive ideas and solutions.

Continuous improvement — 8D boosts continuous improvement by implementing permanent corrective actions to prevent the problem from coming back. This leads to increased efficiency, productivity, and quality.

Customer satisfaction — By adopting interim containment measures and focusing on finding the root of the issue, customers are protected from further problems until the issue is dealt with, and overall quality will improve. This leads to increased customer loyalty and repeat business.

Cost reduction — 8D identifies and eliminates waste and inefficiencies in the process, helping factories reduce costs. This translates into a higher bottom line and a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

mlean® and the 8D method

The 8D method is a great tool to identify, fix, and prevent problems in your factory.

And the best way to implement it is digitally. This means everybody has access to the same information and collaborate better.

Our mlean Production System (mPS) is the most complete and flexible continuous improvement software in the market, and of course, we include 8D problem-solving in our digital toolkit.

Our 8D module gives you access to the full problem lifecycle in one single dashboard. It also allows you to track the issue and create a knowledge database from problems solved so that your processes can be as effective as possible.

With our module, you can escalate your problem directly from our 8D module. This allows you to give access to your data to the right person at the right time.

Our 8D integrates seamlessly with any other modules in the mPS to ensure a more comprehensive and robust problem-solving process.

Get a free demo today and take a look!

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