Few things are more frustrating than being held up by technical problems.
The laptop freezes. The vending machine breaks. The car doesn’t start.
Knowing that your immediate future is now dependent on someone else — the IT guy, the repair tech, the auto mechanic — is such a helpless feeling. Like being stuck in limbo.
The good news is that technical problems are not inevitable. In fact, many are fairly easily avoided. Because almost every technical problem is really, at its core, a human one.
Drilling down to the “why”
Say a piece of machinery — a crane, for instance — fails as the result of an electrical fault. It happens: Machine components get worn down over time, especially when they’re in constant use.
Now it needs to be repaired, which solves the problem on its surface — but to prevent future failures (and the associated costs and downtime), you need to find the root cause.
Let’s use the 5 Whys method to find the real source of the issue. The 5 Whys technique, developed in the 1930s by Sakichi Toyoda, is a powerful tool for getting past the outward symptoms of a problem to find its underlying cause.
To use the technique, you simply ask “Why?” — you guessed it — five times. Let’s go:
- Why didn’t the crane start?
Because there was a bad electrical connection in the starter.
- Why was there a bad electrical connection?
Because it hadn’t been properly maintained.
- Why was the connector improperly maintained?
Because the operators never reported that it was becoming worn.
- Why didn’t the operators report that it was becoming worn?
Because they didn’t include it in their pre-use inspection.
- Why didn’t they include it in their pre-use inspection?
Because it wasn’t included in their pre-use inspection checklist.
So while an electrical issue caused the crane not to start, a deeper dive reveals several related human issues: a lack of communication, caused by operators’ lack of attention to detail, caused by a lack of management attention to that detail in the checklist.
Those are very human problems — ones that can be easily solved.
The right tool for the job
This scenario offers a prime example of how technology can help reduce human error.
Cranes are required to be inspected daily in order to avoid failures, OSHA violations, or, worse, injuries. So why not make inspections as seamless as possible?
Finding the right checklist for the machine you’re using and making paper copies of it to use throughout the week is inefficient, to say the least. It’s not conducive to a rigorous safety program, either. An operator could, conceivably, forget to conduct his pre-use inspection and hastily sign off on a paper checklist later in the day.
But mobile data collection and workflow automation software makes it easy to ensure everyone on your team has access to the most up-to-date checklists — and completes them when they’re supposed to.
Using Fulcrum’s no-code platform, you can digitize your paper checklists in minutes and deploy them to your crews to complete using their mobile devices. Then, you can watch in real time as inspections are completed (including where they’re being completed) via the web-based dashboard.
You can make certain fields required — say, checking those connectors — before the app allows your workers to finish an inspection, or even require photos so you have visual evidence that things are in good working order.
You can also update checklists on the fly to make sure everyone has the latest version and is following the same inspection process, no matter where they are.
For example, over the last few months, many companies have put protocols in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on their worksites — adding things like temperature checks and proof of PPE to their daily routines.
With a no-code platform like Fulcrum, you can build those extra steps right into your checklists and deploy them to your teams instantly so you can be sure everyone has the tools they need to do their jobs correctly — and safely.
In other words, you can reduce human error and quickly pinpoint where protocols are not being followed to get ahead of safety incidents and mechanical problems that cost you time and money.
Want to see how it works? Start your free 30-day Fulcrum trial here.