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Confusing failure modes with failure mode causes

In response to "Narrower Focus" (January 2015, pp. 23-28): I believe the author may be confusing failure modes with failure mode causes.

The author talks of the difficulty of selecting failure modes from a nearly infinite universe. This may apply to failure mode cause, but not the selection of the failure mode itself.

In my view, the identification of the failure mode is quite straightforward. For a well-defined process step, the number of failure modes is unlikely to exceed two or three.

The potential failure mode is the manner in which the process step could potentially fail to meet the process requirements.

The identification of the failure mode can be greatly facilitated by detailing the specific requirements of the process step.

Consider the article’s example of drilling a hole. The requirements for the process step may state that the hole depth is to be 20mm +/- 0.5 mm.

There are just three potential failure modes in this case: the hole is too deep, the hole is not deep enough or the hole is not drilled.

I don’t think the statement of the failure mode should contain actions such as "drilled hole too deep." I believe that actions belong with the causes of the failure mode.

Albert Plant
Waterford, Ireland

It takes the right people

In response to "The Art of Root Cause Analysis" (February 2015, p. 64): It must be noted that the five whys tool only works if the right people are in the room. If at least one person is unable to answer the question why, the team will soon become stuck.

Often, the question why is not forthcoming. This is usually from a lack of understanding or involvement by the team members and so the question remains unanswered. When this takes place, more investigative efforts and analysis are required.

Stephen Okon
Granby, CT

Quality for the Renaissance man

In response to "Well Rounded" (February 2015, pp. 10-12): Excellent perspective on the Renaissance man aspects of quality. This one deserves a follow-up article.

Thomas Pearson
Fishers, IN

Getting schooled on quality costs

In response to "Lean Learning" (February 2015, pp. 39-45): I work with universities, and this is a great article that highlights the value cost improvements can have.

Doug Von Feldt
Lawrence, KS


Tune In

The latest episode of ASQ TV shows how quality plays an important role in the forensic community and how forensic techniques were used to resolve a construction dispute. Also learn how to create a corrective action request, and hear from one of the stars of the hit TV show, "CSI." Watch for the next episode, which covers creative thinking, available April 14.


Online Extras

New ASQ Standards Channel

Let ASQ be your ISO 9001:2015 resource. ASQ’s Standards Channel is a video collection of interviews with top experts, helping to prepare and educate you on the forthcoming revision.

The ASQ Standards Channel covers five topic areas:

  1. The basics of the ISO 9001 revision.
  2. Key changes by topic.
  3. Effect on industries and business models.
  4. Transitioning.
  5. ISO 14001.

Visit the ASQ Standards Channel at http://videos.asq.org/asq-standards-channel for more details.


Quick Poll Results

Each month at www.qualityprogress.com, visitors can take an informal survey. Here are the numbers from last month’s Quick Poll:

What is the most important to you and your career?

33% A challenge.

20% Variety.

17% Coworkers I like and respect.

16% Job security.

14% Pay and benefits.

Visit www.qualityprogress.com for the latest question:

Which professional sport could benefit most from a dose of quality?

  • Baseball.
  • Football.
  • Golf.
  • NASCAR.
  • Soccer.

Quality News Today

Recent headlines from ASQ’s global news service

Google, Apple Get Ready For Battle of the Dashboard
They’ve moved on from smartphones and tablets, now the dashboards of the car are where both Google and Apple will be fighting for supremacy. Both "Google Auto," and "CarPlay" are expected to debut soon.

Superfish Adware Frenzy Over Lenovo "Betrayal of Trust"
Superfish, the much-maligned adware that came pre-installed on Lenovo laptops, is one of several "creepy" digital pests capable of wriggling past encrypted web-browsing sessions.


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