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RE: Five why's = root cause analysis

Just a thought, but I think your case may still have merit Michelle, however, the root may lie further down, to the level of “Why inventory so many parts?” And if the answer is “because we always have” that is a P2 opportunity


In the Stanley Tool P2 example here at Oregon DEQ, we process-mapped the facility and found they were spraying on rust preventative in order to inventory parts, then using a voc cleaner to take the preventive off to add value at another step in the process. This was done so many times with so many parts that they had a Title V permit for air emissions.

We asked “why are you inventorying so many parts?” They were able to go to real-time or just in time inventory and through the process eliminated the rust preventive and organic cleaner and the Title V permit! The real time inventory requires up front planning to get a handle on and ahead of customer demand, but in this case they could plan for the number of parts they need to have on hand based on demand. The inventory got pushed back to the parts caster who now also plans production based on Stanley’s demand schedule…. David


From: owner-p2tech@great-lakes.net [mailto:owner-p2tech@great-lakes.net] On Behalf Of michelle gaither
Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2009 1:05 PM
To: p2tech
Subject: Five why's = root cause analysis


I am looking for a good example of drilling down with 5 why's - relating to a chemical issue.


here is an example, but i don't like this example because we don't have a solution.  (a few alternatives/potential solutions to this one would be great - or a completely different example.


Thanks in advance for any suggestions.



Asking “why” five times is a simple way to identify the root cause of a waste, and that makes it easier to identify ways to reduce or eliminate the waste. Here is an example:


  Why is the solvent a waste? Because the solvent is contaminated with oil.


  Why is it contaminated with oil? Because the solvent was used to clean oil off the parts.


  Why are the parts oily? Because the manufacturer puts a coating of oil on them before shipping them to this facility.


  Why does the manufacturer put a coating on them? To prevent the parts from corroding after manufacture.


  Why is this type of corrosion protection absolutely necessary? There is no other way to protect the parts from corrosion.


In this example, the root cause of the solvent waste is corrosion protection. 


Source: Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Pollution Prevention Analysis and Plan Guidance Manual, March 2006, www.azdeq.gov/environ/waste/p2/download/first.pdf.

Michelle Gaither | environmental engineer
1402 Third Ave, Suite 1420 | Seattle, WA 98101
T 206.352.2050 | F 206.352.2049| www.pprc.org

Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center
practical solutions for economic and environmental vitality