Manufacturing companies are the backbone of any economy. They produce goods for local or international markets, employ people, and keep their customers happy.
That’s why manufacturers often use 8D reports to identify and solve problems before they impact their production and business to ensure the quality of produced goods. The methodology was developed by Toyota Motors Manufacturing (TMM) in Japan in the 1960s to help the company achieve better performance.
For companies who want to compete with other manufacturers around the world, it’s essential to identify and track root causes of non-conformities or problems in a production environment. This helps them achieve a high level of product efficiency and quality, which translates into lower costs and higher profits.
In this article we cover the ins and outs of 8D reporting, how to use it, and the advantages it may offer to your workforce.
Download our 8D template as well to make your problem-solving process simpler.
The 8D method structure
The 8D problem-solving method is a systematic approach to problem solving that emphasizes team participation. This method generally covers:
- Identifying the Problem — You must first identify what is wrong with the process or operation.
- Determining Causes — After identifying a problem, you will have to determine its root cause(s). This may not be easy, but it’s imperative if you want to fix your processes and prevent future problems from arising again.
- Developing Corrective Action — Once you’ve identified the causes of your problems and analyzed all possible solutions, it’s time to develop corrective actions. Create a plan for how each possible solution would work (i.e., “if we use this part instead,” or “if we add these people,” etc.). You’ll also need metrics and checkpoints throughout this process to ensure that everything is working as intended.
The 8 disciplines
The eight disciplines (8D) follow a logical sequence of eight steps. It’s one of the most common methods used in manufacturing because it’s a structured approach, but it can also be applied to other industries.
D1: Create a team
When using 8D, it is important to have a cross-functional team with individuals from different disciplines to assist you cover more territory. There should be two subgroups for the team members:
- Core members: people who are more data-driven and typical product, process, and data experts.
- Subject Matter Experts (SME): members who may contribute to brainstorming, research, and process observation. Bring in fresh SMEs without hesitation to assist with any step of the process.
These team members have to be equipped with the knowledge necessary to identify the issue and implement solutions.
D2: Describe the problem
The problem description is a narrative that describes the issue in detail and should be understood across the team members. It explains how the issue happened, what impact it had on your business, and why you need to fix it. The problem description should include:
- The underlying causes of your problem (the root cause). Why did this happen?
- What’s the impact of this issue? How much money are you losing because of this? What other problems does it cause within your company?
- How will fixing these underlying causes help solve or prevent future issues related to this one?
Here are some techniques and tools to identify and formulate the problems:
- 5 Why’s formulation
- Affinity Diagram
- Fishbone Diagram
- Is / Is Not method
D3: Develop a containment plan
Once you have identified, isolated, and controlled your manufacturing process problems, it’s time to create a plan for containment. You need clear descriptions so that everyone understands what they’re supposed to do in order to solve this issue.
Be aware, an Interim Containment Action (ICA) is a temporary plan and should only be replaced with the Permanent Corrective Action (PCA) after completing 8D.
D4: Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and Escape Point
You might find yourself wandering down several rabbit holes before reaching this point. Be patient and methodical as you work through each step in your investigation process. This process should always be guided by facts rather than assumptions or guesses about what could be going wrong behind closed doors at your company’s factories overseas!
Review your results, then talk with your team about potential causes of the issue. Each probable root cause is mapped to the issue statement and any associated test results as part of the root cause analysis. Be cautious to rule out all probable reasons; hazy brainstorming and careless analysis might lead you to miss important details.
Some methods during this step include:
- Comparative Analysis
- Development of Root Cause Theories
- Verification of Root Cause Theories
- Review Process Flow Diagrams
- Determine Escape Points, the closest point in the process where root cause could be found
In addition to determining the underlying causes, attempt to remember when and why you first discovered the issue in the process. This is called an escape point, and there can be more than one.
D5: Formulate Permanent Corrective Actions (PCA)
Corrective actions should be based on the root cause analysis. The first step in formulating corrective actions is to determine the root cause of the failure mode. To do this, you will need to analyze all of your data and identify which potential factors contributed to the problem. Once you have determined what caused the failure, you can then come up with ways of preventing similar failures from occurring in the future.
For example, if an assembly line stops due to an electrical issue with one machine, it would not make sense to fix just one machine; rather, you should look at all machines on that line and make sure they have proper electrical connections so that they are able to function properly.
So when something goes wrong, you will have a plan for fixing it before it causes even bigger problems down the road. There are several steps involved in creating an effective corrective action plan:
- Plan out how long it will take before implementing any changes that can help fix whatever issue has arisen;
- Create an actionable plan detailing exactly what needs changing;
- Check in at regular intervals on progress made toward completing this project so that no one gets forgotten along its path until completion (this includes monitoring by both parties involved)
- If necessary take appropriate steps like adding more resources or reallocating existing ones when delays arise from unforeseen factors such as weather conditions etc.”
D6: Implement and Validate the Permanent Corrective Action
Interim measures are temporary solutions to a problem. They can be used to prevent further damage or to allow time for a permanent solution to be implemented. Interim measures can also be used to reduce the impact of the problem until it is solved.
When you have identified an issue in your business, create an action plan that includes interim measures as well as final goals and expectations. If there is some sort of delay in implementing these interim measures, report back on progress at least monthly so management stays up-to-date on what is happening within your department and company at large.
Some activities during the 6D step include:
- Creating a project plan
- Share the plan with relevant parties.
- Use metrics to verify progress
D7: Monitoring of corrective measures
Monitoring is a key part of the 8D method. Monitoring is a way to check if a corrective action is working, or if it needs to be changed or completed. It’s also a way to check if the root cause has been addressed, and if your company has learned anything new from the incident that could help prevent future errors.
Your team needs to retain and document the shared knowledge that was gained while identifying, resolving, and preventing this problem. It’s important to review existing documents or procedures and update them accordingly to improve future outcomes.
Activities you need to keep in mind during this step are:
- Reviewing comparable products and procedures to avoid other problems.
- Creating or updating work instructions and procedures.
- Capturing new industry standards and procedures.
- Confirming the most recent failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA).
- Confirming the revision of control plans.
D8: Recognize team and individual efforts
Giving feedback to ensure a good outcome is crucial for any team to flourish. Recognize the efforts and labor that each person has put into what they have brought to the process at this moment.
The tasks in this stage consist of:
- Archive 8D for later use.
- Keep track of your learnings to enhance your problem-solving techniques.
- Comparisons of the before and after
- Celebration and acknowledgement of the group
How to Write an 8D report for your company when you have a product defect or a problem to solve?
An 8D report is a tool for managing a problem. It consists of eight columns and four rows:
- The first row, called the title row, lists each column’s name.
- The second row contains headings for each column:
- Define the Problem
- Determine Causes
- Develop Solutions
- Verify Solutions
- Control Risks
- Document Your Improvements and Lessons Learned (optional)
- Closeout (optional).
- The third row contains descriptions of what needs to be done in each step:
- 1a through 7a include action steps related to 1 through 7 above;
- 6b includes an optional section that can be used if it becomes necessary to document lessons learned from this process at some later time (e.g., after you implement Solution 3b).
8D Report Pros and Cons for manufacturers
8D report advantages:
More awareness of the root cause (s)
It improves your quality control processes by identifying the potential causes of nonconformance at each stage of production and prioritizes corrective action steps based on their risk level, priority, impact, probability, etc., thus ensuring that you address the system issues first before they result in incurring costs due to rework/scrap or adverse customer response or regulatory intervention.
Enhanced quality control strategies and plans.
8D enables you to reduce lead times by identifying where bottlenecks are occurring within a process so that resource allocation can be adjusted accordingly in order to improve throughput while maintaining quality standards (i.e., having sufficient workers available at all stages). This can also help with preventing employee burnout by covering more shifts so there is less overtime required from employees who might otherwise be tired from working too many hours without breaks when there is high demand for their services during peak times (like Christmas shopping season).
Avoid future problems
The 8D report can help your manufacturing company avoid costly mistakes, as you can see exactly where problems may occur and take action to prevent them.
An 8D report gives you an opportunity to check if everything is running smoothly and confirm that everyone understands their tasks and responsibilities. With this information at hand, it’s easier to make improvements based on what works best or needs improvement in different areas of your business. In addition, it’s easy to access historical data on procedures and products.
Better communication flows
Finally, It also allows for better communication flows between teams responsible for different processes in the manufacturing process and reduces the amount of time spent investigating issues that aren’t really problems.
8D report Cons:
There aren’t many cons to applying 8D problem solving techniques. The most important one is that it will require that people who take part in problem-solving activities obtain the right training and instructions on how 8D operates.
They will also need to comprehend other closely linked concepts related to 8D issue solving methodologies. Examples of these may be pareto charts, process maps, fishbone diagrams, and more.
Lack in flexibility
In addition, an 8D report is not a good tool when there are several problems at once or when an issue in the manufacturing process needs immediate attention.
An 8D report also has requirements that smaller enterprises with fewer resources can find complicated and costly. For example: you need to have a dedicated budget to provide extensive training so your team has the right knowledge to do the job right.
Technology to Assist in 8D Reporting for manufacturers
There are a number of software solutions available to help companies implement 8D programs and manage their Supplier Quality Management (SQM) efforts.
Why should you digitize your 8D processes?
Automating the 8D report process will ensure that all problems are captured and reported consistently, with no one falling through the cracks.
It facilitates collaboration across teams and departments. All stakeholders will have access to information on the status of every problem as it progresses through its lifecycle, so they can respond quickly if an issue arises or make suggestions for how best to resolve it. This saves time and allows everyone involved in a particular issue to feel more connected with one another than they otherwise would be able to do without this kind of technology at their disposal.
8D reporting is a powerful tool for monitoring progress and identifying issues in manufacturing. This can help you improve your processes, reduce cost, and increase profits. With the help of technology, you can easily keep track of your 8D reports. Here are some solutions to assist manufacturers with this process:
- ERP systems
A program like SAP or Oracle ERP allows you to integrate 8D reporting into your system. This way, all information is in one place and updated automatically.
- SaaS solution
A no-code software tool like Azumuta allows you to integrate 8D reporting into your system. This way, all information is in one place and updated automatically. Easily capture data with your phone or tablet, while offline from the field at any time! Create an 8D report right away and distribute it to your stakeholders and coworkers and track corrective actions to team members through a single app.
With real-time data, companies can improve communication among team members, improve problem solving skills for individuals on the team (including managers), and develop new solutions for existing issues based on past experience with similar problems at other locations or companies.
If you don’t want to invest in new software at this time but still want an easy way to manage your project issues and progress, consider using an online database like Excel for managing risks, defects, quality assurance methods, etc. This will allow you to access information from anywhere with a laptop or mobile device. This way is rather tedious though and important information can be lost.
Digitize your 8D Processes
As you can see, there are many benefits to using a software for 8D reporting. While it may seem like a lot of work initially, once you get the hang of it, it will be easy to maintain and manage your 8D records. The most important thing is to start now! Make sure that your company gets started on an 8D reporting software today so that your team can begin documenting problems as soon as possible!