Using Root Cause Failure Analysis to Prevent Recurring Failures

Failure Analysis

Root cause failure analysis (RCFA) is a method employed to discover the underlying factors that cause a problem to try to stop it from happening again at a later time. It’s often employed as part of change management procedures to determine the cause of issues that may arise after any changes to the system or procedure.

RCFA is something that businesses are frequently deeply entangled with. Before we get too excited about tooling, setting the context for RCFA is important. And analyzing various common methods used in the analysis process and the point at which the process “kicks in” when something fails.

What Is Root Cause Failure Analysis?

Root cause failure analysis or RCFA is an extremely popular and frequently used method that assists people in answering the reason why the issue started initially. It aims to determine the source of trouble by following a sequence of steps and the aid of tools to determine the root cause of the issue so that it is possible to:

  • Find out what went wrong.
  • Find out the reason for what happened.
  • Find out how in order to lessen the chances that it happens once more.

RCFA believes that events and systems are interconnected. One action can trigger an action that occurs in another and so on. When you track these steps back, it is possible to determine exactly where the problem began and the process that led to the problem you’re experiencing today.

There are three main kinds of causes:

  • Physical cause – Tangible objects that are made of material failed in some manner. For example, in a car’s brakes have stopped functioning.
  • Human-caused causes – Someone who committed a mistake or failed to perform something necessary. Human factors usually lead to physical reasons. For instance, nobody was able to fill the brake fluid, which led to the brakes not working.
  • Organizational Causes – The causes of organizational failure process, system, or policy users employ to make decisions or complete their job is not working (for example, no individual was in charge of maintaining the vehicle, so everyone thought that somebody else was filled with brake fluid).

RCFA analyzes the three kinds of causes. It focuses on analyzing the pattern of negative consequences, identifying imperfections that may be hidden within the system, as well as identifying the specific steps that caused the issue. It is common for RCFA to uncover multiple root causes.

Understanding Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA)

Failures in any industry could occur, resulting in dangers to safety, lower production, and higher costs. RCFA is a method that identifies the root cause that causes system or equipment malfunctions. This method allows businesses to concentrate on the root cause rather than symptoms, thus preventing repeat incidents and developing longer-term solutions.

Here are the key components of RCFA:

1. Identification of the Problem and Aims of Conducting RCFA

The initial step is to identify the issue, which could be an equipment or system malfunction or a procedural flaw in understanding the necessity to conduct a root cause analysis. It is important to determine the root cause of the incident instead of focusing on the symptoms immediately, which can lead to more events occurring in the near future.

2. Data Collection and Analysis

The next stage is collecting data on the incident. Information can be gathered by observations, interviews with employees, or reports within the system, as well as other relevant evidence. All data collected needs to be organized, structured, and prioritized for further investigation.

3. Identification of Possible Causes of Failures

The information gathered will be analyzed to determine the probable factors that led to the failure. Every factor that contributed to the problem should be considered as well as the root of the problem to be discovered. 

The process of identifying possible causes requires examining the entire system and analyzing the personnel and equipment involved in the incident for the cause.

4. Removal of Causes That Have the Highest Probability of Recurrence

Once you have identified the probable sources following the identification of possible causes, the subsequent step will be to evaluate the likelihood of frequency, with the most likely causes requiring the greatest focus. It is highly recommended to get rid of those underlying causes that are more likely to have a likelihood of recurrence in order to avoid any future complications.

5. Development of Action Plan

The last step is to develop an action plan that addresses the root of the issue. It could involve rethinking the system, repairing procedures or equipment, educating employees, or establishing guidelines that greatly reduce the possibility that the problem will occur again. Failures in business can result in loss of revenue as well as client discontent and harm your company’s image.

The process that is taken by root cause failure analysis (RCFA) aids in finding the source of these issues and lowers the chances of recurrence. If you follow the RCFA process, companies are able to take preventative steps to protect their image and also reduce expenses and improve effectiveness.

Implementing RCFA to your organization’s fail response plan will allow the company to make more informed choices while being prepared to avoid any problems that could be incurred in the future.

Benefits of Implementing RCFA in Business Operations

Failure Analysis

Source: Pexels

Incorporating RCFA as part of your business’s disaster response strategy can help the company to make more informed choices while also avoiding problems that could occur in the near future. The benefits of RCFA are as follows:

  • Reduced Downtime and Increased Productivity

Businesses can cut down on time in the downtime process and boost productivity by understanding and solving the root of failures in equipment. The conveyor belt in a factory often fails. RCFA determines the cause of the problem and can fix it before the problem gets more severe. It prevents further downtime and boosts efficiency.

  • Improved Safety and Risk Management

RCFA assists in identifying potential risks and then implementing remedial actions to reduce risks while improving worker safety. Chemical plants are prone to leaks. RCFA discovers that seals and valves aren’t kept in good condition. A better preventive maintenance program can reduce the risk and improve security.

  • Enhanced Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty

A well-planned maintenance management program and the support of the RCFA will result in better quality services and products, increasing the level of customer confidence and satisfaction. The company that sells smartphones receives complaints regarding the battery’s performance. RCFA discovers that there is a glitch in the software. The organization fixes the problem by improving customer engagement and satisfaction.

  • Cost Savings Through Efficient Resource Allocation

In identifying the cause of problems, companies can better allocate resources and reduce the cost of repair as well as replacements. A fleet business has the highest maintenance on equipment costs because of vehicle breakdowns. 

RCFA detects an issue with a part. Replacement of the component with a more efficient replacement reduces the cost and increases the allocation of resources.


Root cause failure analysis (RCFA) provides numerous advantages as part of a business’s operational strategy. By identifying and addressing failure causes at their source, businesses can reduce downtime, boost productivity, and enhance overall efficiency.

RCFA also contributes to customer satisfaction and loyalty by helping businesses provide higher-quality products and services.




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