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The Eight Disciplines (8D) of Problem Solving is a problem solving methodology designed with the aim of finding the root cause of a problem, devising a short-term fix and implementing a long-term solution to prevent reoccurrence of a problem. When a product is found defective or out-of-specification, the 8D methodology serves as an excellent first step in addressing the issue, through quality improvement which in turn, builds reliability. 

This problem solving methodology was developed by Ford Motor Company developed. It was known as Team Oriented Problem Solving (TOPS), in the 1980s. The early usage of 8D proved so effective that it was adopted by Ford as the primary method of documenting problem solving efforts, and it is still in use by them to this day. 8D have become a very popular technique among manufacturers because of its effectiveness and ease of use.

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Eight Disciplines of Problem Solving (8D) Defined

8D problem solving process is defined as a detailed, team oriented approach to solving critical problems in the manufacturing process. 

The goals of the 8D method includes:

  1. Finding the root cause of a problem,
  2. Developing containment actions to protect customers,
  3. And, taking corrective action to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future. 

The strength of the 8D process lies in its structure, discipline and methodology. 8D uses a composite methodology, utilizing best practices from various existing approaches. It is a problem solving method that drives incremental and systematic changes, improving an entire process in order to avoid not only the problem at hand but also other issues that may stem from a similar failure in the system. 

The 8D is one of the most popular problem solving methodologies used in many manufacturing, assembly and service Industries.

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Benefits of the 8D Problem Solving Process

One of the reasons for the popularity of the 8D methodology is because it offers a consistent, easy-to-learn and thorough approach to solving any type of problems that might arise at various stages in a production, manufacturing or service delivery process.

The following are some other benefits:

  • It improves team oriented problem solving skills and collaboration.
  • It increases familiarity with a structure for problem solving.
  • It assists in creation and expansion of a database of past failures and lessons learned to prevent problems in the future. 
  • It aids better understanding of how to use basic statistical tools required for problem solving. 
  • It improves effectiveness and efficiency at problem solving. 
  • It acts as a practical guide to understanding the Root Cause Analysis (RCA) of a problem. 
  • It aids the adoption of problem solving effort into the processes and methods of the organization. 
  • It improves skills required for implementing corrective action. 
  • It provides better ability to identify necessary systemic changes and subsequent inputs for change. 
  • It enhances more candid and open communication in problem solving discussion, increasing effectiveness. 
  • It provides an improvement in management understanding of problems and problem resolution.

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When to Apply the 8D Problem Solving Process

The 8D problem solving process is necessary and typically required when:

  • Safety or regulatory issues have been discovered to be of concern.
  • Customer complaints are received and needs to be addressed. 
  • Warranty Concerns have indicated greater-than-expected failure rates.
  • Internal rejects, waste, scrap, poor performance or test failures are present at unacceptable levels.

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About the Author

Adebayo is a thought leader in continuous process improvement and manufacturing excellence. He is a Certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt (CSSMBB) Professional and Management Systems Lead Auditor (ISO 9001, 45001, ISO 22000/FSSC 22000 etc.) with strong experience leading various continuous improvement initiative in top manufacturing organizations. 

You can reach him here.

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