Documentation is the First Step

Documentation is the first step to good troubleshooting, it is the first step to continuous improvement, it is the first step to process improvement, it is the first step to better maintenance, it is the first step to getting your technicians up to speed faster, etc.


During a recent on-site training session, I was asked by the plant manager: What is the first step we need to take to get better?

My Response:

Better documentation is the first step you need to take to get better. With respect to processing, if you do not properly and accurately document the process that is being used to make a good part, there is nothing to use as a basis of comparison when troubleshooting a bad part. Everything that happens to a process, machine, mold, material, or a piece of auxiliary equipment should be documented. This includes everyone from tooling and processing to maintenance and die setters. Essentially everyone who works on the equipment or process must document what has transpired.

For example, if you don’t document the time and reason for the swapping-out of a failed water temperature controller during 2nd shift, the 3rd shift will inaccurate information when troubleshooting defects that might be found on that machine at the start of their shift and may not be able to locate the root cause of the problem in a timely manner.

Additional Thoughts:

When trying top get new process technicians up to speed faster, good documentation significantly reduces the learning curve. For example, let’s suppose a new technician notices delamination on the parts as well as an increase in transfer pressure, but no other significant deviations in the current process from the documented standard. In this case, he/she can place attention on why the pressure has increased. This approach puts the focus on what likely caused the pressure to increase which is much more efficient than trying to remember all the things that might cause delamination. If they correct the cause for the pressure increase and the delamination goes away, the new technician has a very high level of confidence that they corrected the problem and can move on to the next problem.

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