Troubleshooting (part 5)

by admin on December 7, 2017


I’ve been talking about this for a while.  I even offered up some suggestions in my previous post about how to possible modify the trouble shooting procedure.  Here’s another alternative.  I’ve used both methods and, for me, it’s a toss up.  I think I prefer this method a tad bit more as I can enter the data more easily into a spreadsheet. 

If I do that it gives me the ability to sort by date/time.  By step number, by words etc.  pretty much anything I want to.  This method requires that you keep a copy of the trouble shooting procedure as a reference so you can be certain of exactly what you did.

That means you would want to identify the procedure you used as well as the revision. 


                                   What the heck are we revising? 

Let me explain.  To be certain of everything you’re doing and reconstruct things in the future should you ever need to, you must document what you did.  At the same time, if you don’t write a perfect procedure on your first try (I never have in over 25 years of writing and documenting procedures) you’ll need or want to change it. 

When supervising a large team it is imperative that everyone use the best known methods (BKM) when working.  This allows the collective intelligence of the group to be utilized everytime something is being worked on. 

You want  the organization to be a learning organization.  Someone once said of human beings that you are either learning or you’re dying.  The same could be said about an organization.  It is also said that  a business is either growing or dying. 

How does an organization learn anything?  Well, when any part of the organiation  learns something that has to be transferred to the rest of the organization.  How about saying that in English?  Well, what I mean is that if any individual within the organization learns something (improves a procedure, changes the order, adds a test fixture that speeds some step up or improves the accuracy of a step) the organization hasn’t learned it, yet.  The individual may have improved, but the organization has not.  The organization can be said to have learned it when that new knowledge is incorporated in the procedure that the organization uses AND everyone in the organization performing that procedure knows about and uses the changes to their, and the organizations, benefit.  If it is particularly complex or re-arranges a large number of steps or some other major difference, there may need to be training for other team-members that will be performing that same procedure. 

Perhaps you get a new piece of test equipment.  Maybe you get a new computer program.  How about a new power supply that is programmable when all you used to have is one that had a voltage adjustment?  Maybe a full on solder rework station that has integral vacuum and has a hot air pre-heat and hot air main heat?  If it is a big enough change, just writing it down won’t be good enough.  You’ll need to have training. 

Here’s an example of a learning organization.  I was assigned to a 688 class submarine that had just completed it’s commissioning shakedown. (it was brand-spanking new, everything was shiny and and…)  We took it into the shipyard to have a bunch of improvements made to it that weren’t included in the original, new construction, contract.  One of those items was to add  an anechoic coating to the hull.  This helped to make the ship quieter and stealthier.  When the shipyard did the procedure the first time, it took a long time.  The engineers that designed it gave there best guess as to how it should be installed and the time that it would take.

The actual shipfitters worked carefully, diligently and got it installed but it took LONGER than forecasted by the engineers.  The second ship was a little faster and by the time they got to the fourth ship they were at the time targetted by the engineers.  Everyone was elated.  The workers doing the actual work had another idea though.  They worked on improving the procedure.  They got permission from their superiors to try something.  After everyone agreed, they went to work.  Using their new procedure and an installation jig that a couple of them made in one of the machine shops they reduced the time by another 20%.  A couple more folks got involved and threw in their ideas.  By the time they competed three more ships they were doing the installation in 65% of the time allotted by the engineers.  All of these changes were incorporated into the new procedure.  The organization had learned. 

Shipyard management was so happy that they gave the installation team some really HUGE bonuses.  They were saving the company loads of  time.  (Everyone knows that time is money)  This allowed the shipyard to do the same job with fewer people and kept the upgrades on time and schedule.  The shipyard was also able to pass savings on to the Navy which means the american taxpayer was getting more for their money.  Everyone was happy.

This is why I recommend you have procedures that you actually use.  Periodically, review the procedure against the actual work being performed.  If it doesn’t match, figure out why. 

  • Has the person doing the work made an unapproved change?
  • Does the difference improve or detract from the standard output?
  • Should the procedure be updated to reflect this new technique or change or should the person doing the work be re-trained on the correct procedure?
    1. If training is held, be sure to include the WHY, most people do much better(remember longer, perform more accurately, etc.) if they understand why something is being done in a particular manner. 
    2. If the procedure is to be updated, make the changes and train everyone else so that they can benefit.  Remember, the whole organzation benefits from the learning.

Here are a couple of filled out copies of the log that I use when trouble shooting just about anything.  As I mentioned above, I often do it directly in a spreadsheet for ease of cataloging.  Hope this helps.



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