QMT Features: March 2011
NADCAP audit tips
NADCAP audits: how to implement sustaining root cause corrective action.  By Joanna Leigh, Performance Review Institute.

If you can’t get it right first time, make sure you get it right second time ! Effective root cause corrective action (RCCA) is one of the key components of successfully achieving Nadcap accreditation.  Currently, the average number of days to close out new Nadcap audits across all commodities is 39, while for re-accreditation audits it is 41 days. This is a significant improvement on the situation a few years ago.

One of the keys to quicker, easier accreditation is a good understanding of RCCA. This is a best practice that applies across the board; it is not just relevant to Nadcap accreditation or the aerospace industry, but to any issue within a facility, whether identified internally or by a customer or auditor.

According to the Nadcap system, five key areas should be addressed to resolve any non-conformances identified:

Immediate corrective action
A description of what was accomplished to stop the problem at once; for example to stop producing nonconforming product should be recorded. This includes what was done to assess any damage, contain all effects, and if appropriate, whether any affected customers were notified. If no product was affected, explain how this assessment was reached.

Root Cause
Root cause is essentially the last cause in any cause chain. To obtain the Root Cause, data must be collected and cause chains developed. A true root cause will require a 5 Why analysis. It is recommended that you check exactly what information is required to close out the audit – providing surplus detail may result in additional non-conformance reports. For Nadcap audit non-conformance responses, only the root cause should be listed in this area, but supplemental information may be included to support the conclusion. 

Impact of all identified causes and the root cause
It is vital that, after working backwards to identify the root cause, you work forward again to detail the impact of all the identified causes and the root cause. Was there product impact?  How did you determine that there was/was not product impact? 

Action taken to prevent recurrence
This cannot be determined until the direct, contributing, and root causes have been identified. You should record what has been implemented to correct the non-conformance from recurring in the long-term. It is important to spend time considering the effectiveness of the actions. Recurrence prevention is important in Nadcap because a repeat finding will prohibit supplier merit. Supplier merit is a system which allows audits to take place on an extended frequency and/or reduced scope basis, which promotes quality improvements and cost savings. In any quality management system, recurring non-conformances add time and money to the process.

Objective evidence
Whether required by the auditor or accreditation body or for your own internal records, it is a good idea to retain objective evidence to substantiate the work you have done to resolve the non-conformance. Should the corrective action you implemented prove non-sustaining, having the data easily to hand may help you to work out what went wrong.

True root cause
Below are two examples of unacceptable responses to non-conformances that are often submitted to close out a non-conformance identified in a Nadcap audit.

• Operator error identified as the root cause
This is seldom ever an acceptable reply. If this is the conclusion, ask yourself; “If I replace this operator, could the next person make this mistake?”
• Restatement of the finding as the root cause.
Remember to use the 5 Why technique to ensure you are truly identifying the root cause and not just rewording the NCR.  For example “The furnace was not calibrated” is the non-conformance, it cannot be the root cause of the problem.

email: Joanna.Leigh@pri-europe.org.uk

To support manufacturing industries improve their root cause analysis and sustaining corrective action implementation, PRI has created a free whitepaper – contact: pri@pri-europe.org.uk for a copy.

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