A Tool to Prevent Unnecessary Trouble – Troubleshooting Guides

Daily management is so unique in its ability to align an organization around a single strategy.  It brings a sense of urgency and actions on the shop floor to life at all levels.   The activity level of daily management is the heartbeat of the process and the real opportunity to see and solve problems at the root cause in the moment, closest in space and time.

With the need to re-invent Gemba walks and responding in person, one particular tool stands out as having the ability to prevent unnecessary trouble  – the troubleshooting guide.

Troubleshooting guides 

Much like the website for a cable company or wireless phone service that wants to do everything possible to prevent someone from having to talk to a live person to get help, troubleshooting guides serve as a way to walk an operator through the first steps of recovery when they run into a problem.

With the advantage of so many years of running the same equipment and having the same problems, many organizations have a wealth of knowledge that is stored in the minds of heroes who solve problems every day.  Troubleshooting guides allow for that knowledge to be captured, categorized, and sorted into a reaction plan for common problems seen on the shop floor.

The mousetrap approach 

Organizing trouble shooting guides is like designing a mousetrap designed to help the operator find the solution much like a mouse making its way thought a maze to find a piece of cheese.

The process starts with a description of the problem, followed by a series of questions and options to solve the problem.

For example, if a punch press stopped working the troubleshooting guide my start with –  is the power supply still working? Is it locked in the upward position? Is the alignment correct? If the answer is no a series of instructions might follow that say; turn off the machine and use a 1.5MM Allen wrench to re-align the punch.

Once the known, simple solutions are exhausted the operator can call for help.  They will have a much better understanding of the problem having walked through the prespecified steps.

Help your organization develop or use existing troubleshooting guides.  They can help avoid a lot of unnecessary trouble.

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