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When something goes wrong at your facility, it can be tempting to direct your efforts at quickly fixing the problem. But often, acting too quickly can fix the symptoms of failure without addressing the root cause, leaving the probability of future failures high. Root cause analysis can help future-proof your facility by investigating why failures happen, leading to changes in procedures, processes, or design that can prevent similar failures from occurring unexpectedly.

Root cause analysis (RCA) is an essential tool in the reliability toolbox. Root cause analysis allows facilities to prevent future instances of failure by tracing the root cause of events with safety, health, environmental, reliability or production impacts, rather than simply correcting the proximate or immediate cause of the failure. RCA shares many features with Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), with one major difference: an FMEA is performed prior to failure events using experience, facility and asset history, manufacturer manuals, and operating context to determine dominant causes of failures and develop mitigating strategies in advance. It is a proactive strategy intended to reduce the incidence of failures before they happen.

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