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Process Improvement

8D Process: Its Importance and Advantages

The 8Ds — also known as the 8 Disciplines — Problem Solving Process is a team-oriented methodology that is mainly used to identify, correct, and eliminate recurring problems.

The methodology focuses on the origin of a problem by determining the root cause and establishes a permanent corrective and preventive action accordingly. It is an 8 tier process with integrated basic problem-solving tools.

This article will help you looks at 8D best practices how it can be helpful for manufacturers to better understand tools and techniques to address nonconformances and reduce risk.

History of 8D Problem Solving Process

There was a dire need for a team-oriented problem-solving strategy based on the use of statistical methods of data analysis. Ford Motors during World War II were manufacturing war vehicles in bulk. To ease up the assembly lines and the entire management in general, the executives of Powertrain Organization wanted a methodology where teams could work on recurring problems.

In 1986, the assignment was given to develop a manual and a course that will teach a new approach to solving tough engineering design and manufacturing defects. The manual for this methodology was documented and defined in “Team Oriented Problem Solving (TOPS)”, published in 1987.

The manual and courses were led at World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. Subsequent changes and revisions were made based on the feedback from pilot sessions. The materials were extensive and the 8D titles were mere chapter headings for the steps in the process. Ford also refer to their current variant of the 8D process as G8D (Global 8D)

Use of 8D Process in Military

The US Government recognized the full caliber of the 8D process. During World War II, they standardized a process as Military Standard 1520 “Corrective Action and Disposition System for Non-confirming Materials”

Their 8D process was used to identify, correct, and eliminate recurring problems, whilst the methodology was useful in product and process improvement. It established a permanent corrective action based on a statistical analysis of the problem. It also focused on the origin of the problem by determining the root cause. 

The 8D approach

The 8D model establishes a permanent corrective action based on statics and data of the problem. It focuses on the origin of the problem by determining its root causes. The earlier 8D models comprised of eight stages, the model got changed as time progressed. It was later expanded by an initial planning stage.

The stages (or Disciplines) are as follow:

D0 — Plan adequately

Proper planning and preparation is of utmost necessity before taking any action. So, before forming a team for the project, you’ll need to consider the following:

  • Problem description
  • Timeframe of the task
  • Amount of resources

D1 — Establish your team

Create a diverse team with extensive portfolios. Make sure they have enough experience so that they can lead to the best quality inputs and complete solutions. For teams to function smoothly, define clear roles and responsibilities.

D2 — Describe the problem

The 8D methodology focuses on describing a problem objectively, capturing every vital information. During the analysis, a loop of 5W1H (why, what, who, where, when, and how) should be applied to develop a clear problem description.

D3 — Contain the problem

Projects that are big and take days to run a single task on them require a temporary problem containment plan to minimize the impact of a problem until a permanent solution is found. On developing the plan based on hypothetical cases, the resources for addressing the main problem can be released.

D4 — Identify the root cause

When the problem is temporarily contained, you can work on identifying the root cause of the nonconformance. You can use the 5W1H framework to understand the problem in-depth, or the Fishbone diagrams to categorize visually, or Pareto Charts to identify the vital causes.

D5 — Identify corrective actions

Once the root cause is recognized, the team can start brainstorming permanent corrections to identify the best long-term solution. Brainstorming with the team along with taking help from tools like affinity diagrams can help in organizing ideas.

D6 — Implement and validate corrective actions

Once a solution is identified, the management needs to implement and verify the corrective action. The PDCA (plan-do-check-act) approach is beneficial in this stage to do small-scale testing. To successfully implement a permanent change, a project plan should incorporate:

  • Project plan development for implementation
  • Communication of the plan with stakeholders
  • Validating improvements using measurements

D7 — Implement preventive actions

A complete solution always provides no reoccurrence of problems. Even if you have created a complete solution, you should still work on preventive measures (after all, better today than tomorrow!).

In this stage, teams must consider actions that include updating audit process questions and verifying corrective actions periodically to reduce risk in processes. Teams can utilize the Poka-Yoke/Error Proofing methodologies to run tests to find defects.

D8 — Recognize team and individual efforts

At the end of the day, everyone wants their work to be recognized. Don’t be shy about that. Celebrate the team’s success and congratulate individuals for their work contribution. Doing such will facilitate motion and employee engagement while helping the organization to improve quality control.

Six Sigma tools that synergize with 8D

8D has become one of the leading frameworks for process improvement. It is robust and can mix easily with other prominent methodologies such as Six Sigma.

The following are improvement tools often used in Six Sigma processes. Learn how the addition of 8D can improve the process even further.

DMAIC – Lean Six Sigma

The DMAIC process is a data-driven cycle for process improvement. It is designed for businesses to identify flaws, errors, defects, or inefficiencies in a process.

Learn more on DMAIC and the process here.

In terms of combining 8D:

  • One can use DMAIC to identify the root cause as in step D4
  • One can implement the same technique to better understand prospects for corrective actions in steps D5 & D6

FMEA – Failure Mode & Effects Analysis

FMEA helps in understanding the potential for problems and making preemptive preparations to avoid them. This methodology is used majorly by Risk Management teams.

FMEA & 8D:

  • 8D can use information gathered during an FMEA process to identify potential problems and the root causes. 
  • The information gathered during the FMEA process can be reused to feed into representational diagrams like Ishikawa (Fishbone) diagram.
  • 8D brainstorming data can be used for new design processes. This allows the FMEA to take actual failures into account, thus producing effective results.
  • Database from previous FMEA can be used as a benchmark for root causes of the problem to inform on 8D process development.

Pareto Charts

Pareto charts are majorly used to analyze data on the frequency of problems/causes in a process. It helps in understanding the impact of different variations of input and outputs via data and graphical representation.

  • In relation to 8D, Pareto charts help in prioritizing which root cause to target based on which will have the greatest impact on the improvement process.

5 Whys

The 5 Whys is a deductive reasoning technique that asks “Why?” five times. The logic here is to ask the same question (WHY?) over and over again, making the reasoning process dig deeper into the complexity of a problem from a single point of focus.

When someone reaches the “5th Why?”, they should have something that has a high likelihood of being a root cause.

Benefits of 8D Problem Solving

8D focuses on teamwork. The framework’s philosophy is to encourage teams as a whole and individually. It’s a pragmatic methodology, i.e. a fact-based problem-solving process. 

One of the main strengths of 8D is its focus on teamwork. 8D philosophy encourages the idea that teams, as a whole, are more powerful than the sum of the individual qualities of each team member.

Here are a few of the benefits that you can expect from the 8D problem-solving process:

  • Institutes a structured and consistent problem-solving approach within an organization
  • Enables individuals to become more effective at problem-solving
  • Encourages team-based approach
  • Helps ensure customers receive a timely and effective response to any concern
  • Supports the requirements of quality management systems for corrective action, problem-solving, and continual improvement
  • Helps in avoiding future problems by solving them in the present time
  • Reduces Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ) by using the lessons learned in process improvement actions
  • Assists organizations to comply with the customer-specific requirement for management concerns

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