The “8D report” is a tool commonly used in the electronics assembly industry for “problem analysis and solving.” Due to its systematic and clear steps, the “8D report” is often utilized in responding to customer complaint cases.
The term “8D” refers to the “8 Disciplines process.” The person filling out the report generally follows predefined steps in sequence. This helps most quality control personnel systematically identify the causes of problems step by step. It also allows you to explain to the customer how the problem was discovered or occurred, how you analyzed the problem, found the root cause, verified if the problem was genuinely resolved, and implemented preventive measures to prevent the problem from recurring.
In essence, the “8D report” is quite similar to “QC Story” and DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control), just with a slightly different name. Spiritually, it is the same — establishing a systematic approach and following a logical order to help users clarify and solve problems. It also serves as a record for future reference.
There are various formats for the “8D report,” but the methods are essentially similar. Once you grasp the rhythm and key points, you’re good to go. In the following, I’ll briefly explain the content of the “8D report.” However, due to limited space, a comprehensive understanding might require a 5-6 hour class at a quality institute. This article provides a rough explanation of its essence.
Discipline 1: Form the Team
Solving problems often requires a cross-functional team, especially in the context of an electronics assembly factory. The basic members of a problem-solving team in such a setting should include the following roles, though additional members from other departments can be involved as needed:
Quality Assurance (QA): Typically the team leader, responsible for providing unified responses to customer queries.
Process Department (PE): Identifies potential issues within the production process.
Testing Department TE): Investigates why testing methods fail to detect problematic products.
Production Department (PD): Collaborates with engineers, conducts experiments, or collects data to facilitate problem discovery and assist in implementing solutions.
Discipline 2: Describe the Problem
It’s recommended to use the 5W1H method (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How) to articulate the problem to the team, detailing when and where the issue occurred, the nature of the problem, its severity, current status, and the urgency of the situation.
If possible, present relevant photos from when the problem occurred and any collected evidence. Think of yourself as a CSI forensic expert; the clearer the evidence and details, the faster the team can understand the situation, leading to quicker problem resolution.
Additionally, preparing a process flowchart in advance to explain the product’s journey can help team members less familiar with the process quickly grasp the situation and understand the points of concern.
Discipline 3: Contain the Problem
When a problem arises, regardless of whether the root cause is identified, immediate actions must be taken to contain the issue. This involves implementing necessary temporary solutions, such as screening out problematic products at the customer’s end or replacing defective items for the customer to continue production or shipment.
On the manufacturing end, measures should be taken to prevent the continued occurrence or shipment of problematic products, such as replacing production machinery, intensifying screening, implementing full inspections, switching from automatic to manual processes, conducting inventory checks, and more.
Once temporary countermeasures are decided, they should be promptly delegated to team members for execution, with continuous reporting on their effectiveness.
Discipline 4: Identify the Root Cause
Many folks find this step challenging in the 8D Report. While it’s the most difficult part, various quality management techniques can be applied to systematically discover and pinpoint the root cause of a problem.
The most commonly used method is the Fishbone Diagram or Ishikawa Diagram. It prompts us to investigate clues under six dimensions: People, Process, Material, Machine, Measurement, and Environment. Step by step, review and identify potential causes, carefully comparing and analyzing changes before and after the problem occurred. For instance, did personnel change? Were there alterations in procedures? Did suppliers modify materials? Was there a fixture replacement? Are temperature and humidity conditions relevant to the issue?
Additionally, tools like Pareto Charts can be used to collect and analyze the most critical issues that should be prioritized for resolution.
Some also use the Cause-and-Effect Tree, tracing the problem back to its fundamental cause based on engineering experience.
Discipline 5: Formulate and Verify Corrective Actions
Once the root cause is identified, the next step is to formulate strategies and methods to address it. There might be several potential corrective actions, such as repairing or updating molds. It’s best to list the pros and cons of these candidate actions: how much will it cost? How much manpower is required? How long can it be sustained? From these options, choose the best course of action and ensure that it won’t create additional side effects.
A scoring system, similar to FMEA, can be employed to determine the priority order for executing corrective actions.
Discipline 6: Correct the Problem and Confirm the Effects
Once the permanent corrective action is ready, implementation can commence. After confirming effectiveness, temporary measures can be halted, and the permanent solution needs verification. Note that verification is crucial – ideally, simulate and replicate the conditions under which the problem occurred to truly identify the root cause.
For example, if IC pin damage is due to mold damage, replacing the damaged mold resolves the issue. Now, reinstall the problematic mold to confirm whether the defects reoccur. Only then is the verification complete. If defects don’t reappear when reinstalling the original mold, the cause may not lie with the mold, and a thorough search for the true root cause is necessary.
Discipline 7: Prevent the Problem
Even for products in production that haven’t experienced the same problem, simultaneous improvements should be made to prevent future occurrences. In ISO-certified factories, permanent corrective actions must go through established procedures for standardization, such as updating work instructions or specifying changes in Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
Discipline 8: Congratulate the Team
Acknowledge and commend team members who put in efforts to solve the problem. It fosters a sense of accomplishment in their work and a willingness to tackle future challenges.