My First RCA

Project Info

I had been working within the Manufacturing Technology team on-site and was studying the Pareto of top ten production losses due to equipment failures.

Within the top ten was a critical centrifugal pump that had contributed to 88 hours lost production over the previous 16 months.

Operating Context

The pump was required to operate 24/7, however, it was not continually pumping to production but was required to run through a kickback line. The nature of the product being pumped meant steam jacketed pipework was required to keep the product in solution.

A design change had been implemented the previous year which included a new 3 way valve that allowed switch over from production flow to kickback using automated control.

A new design double cartridge seal was also installed on the pump complete with steam flush.


This was the first of many RCAs that I facilitated during my time with ICI. It became evident to me very quickly what the power of RCA can bring to an organisation. My passion for problem solving and defect elimination grew to such an extent that I became an accredited RCA facilitator.

Since my first RCA back in 1997 I have facilitated investigations globally as well as training hundreds of people in the principles of Root Cause Analysis.

Here at Pro-Reliability Solutions Ltd (PRS) we cover 5 Whys, and Causal Factor Analysis.

If you would like further information, require support with your own Root Cause Analysis process, or would like to have a chat about starting your own RCA journey within your business then please do get in touch. We would be happy to help.


All four solutions were implemented and visual monitoring of the pump and thermosyphon was carried out on a weekly basis initially for the first 3 months, followed by monthly checks.

The solutions were costed and a payback period of 3 months were achieved.

The pump ran for 11 months and 25 days before the first defect was identified.

The inner seal of the double seal had failed and product was seen within the thermosyphon sight glass. This was an early warning of failure and allowed us to stop the pump and replace the seal during the next planned outage.

The pump continued to operate with a new MTBF = 8030 hours.

Further Information

If you are interested in performing a Reliability Maturity Self-Assessment at your facility or would like to develop a roadmap for your Reliability future, then please get in touch.

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