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Your goal is keeping assets and equipment up and running as efficiently as possible, and the best way to do that is by finding and fixing problems as early as possible. Preventive maintenance is a great way to find problems. 

But to systematically fix problems, you need failure reporting, analysis, and corrective action system (FRACAS). 

And that leads us to the inevitable question. 

What is FRACAS? 

FRACAS is a closed-loop system that helps you organize, track, and manage how you fix problems. 

Which then leads us to the next inevitable question. 

What is a closed-loop system? 

A closed-loop corrective action (CLCA) is a systematic process for dealing with problems and keeping them from coming back. By following each of the steps, you ensure, as best as possible, that a problem does not happen again. 

A typical model for a closed-loop process has five steps. 

  1. Gather your team and define the problem 
  2. Contain the problem so things can't get worse 
  3. Identify the root cause of the problem 
  4. Take corrective and preventive action 
  5. Confirm with data that your solution works 

For example, you borrowed a leaf blower from a neighbor, but now the small, two-stroke engine is producing too much smoke. Gathering the team and defining the problem might mean getting together with the neighbor and checking to see if that amount of smoke is normal. If it's not, you need to work on establishing the extent of the problem. Is it just too much smoke or is the engine also running hot? Is it blowing as hard as it should? 

From there, you move to the second step, containing the problem. In this example, it's as simple as turning off the leaf blower. Next, step three: root cause analysis. Once you've asked enough questions, you get to the original cause of the problem, which here might be that you added the wrong type of oil to the gas-oil fuel mix. 

At step four, you correct and prevent. As best as you can, you remove the bad fuel you added accidentally. To prevent the problem in the future, you can use a marker and write a quick note on the blower: "NO MOTOR OIL IN FUEL MIX." 

Then, at step five, you confirm that your solution works by running the blower with the right fuel and checking for smoke. 

How do you properly pronounce FRACAS? 

Now that you know basically what it is, it's important to know how to say it. "Failure reporting, analysis, and corrective action system" is a bit of a mouthful, so it's always going to be easier to use the acronym. 

The most common pronunciation is /frah-cuss/. Some people say /frey-cuss/. 

The easiest way is to just say it the same way you would say "fracas," which is another word for fight or argument. 

What are the benefits of FRACAS? 

Generally, it's always good to have a system in place that standardizes how you reach a specific goal. Once you have the system in place, you never have to waste time wondering what to do next. You just follow the system. And when you have a system for the entire maintenance department, you know your team isn't wasting time reinventing the wheel either. 

And when things do go wrong, a good system makes it easier to trace your steps. If you always do everything differently every time, it's a lot harder to work backwards to find where you made your new mistakes. 

Specifically for FRACAS, one of the benefits is that over time you get solutions that really work. Remember, the last step is collecting data to confirm your solution solves the problem. With the leaf blower, you start it back up and make sure there's the right amount of smoke. By checking your solution, you give yourself a chance to find out early on if you need a different fix. 

FRACAS can also help you meet ISO standards, including ISO-9001, because it closely follows many of the same steps. 

How does FRACAS work, step by step? 

There are three main steps: 

  1. Reporting 
  2. Analysis 
  3. Corrective action 

Each of the steps is a collection of smaller ones, so it's worth looking at them more closely. 

Reporting 

The most important part of reporting is the incident report, which is where you collect the initial information about the problem. What you need to include in the report varies by industry and organization, but you should focus on data that can tell you what caused the problem and any steps that anyone took right away to fix it.  

For example, if an asset goes offline, you want to know: 

  • Date and time when someone first noticed the problem 
  • Name and job of the person who noticed the problem 
  • First or early signs a problem was happening 
All the steps people took to deal with the problem Later, when you're trying to figure out what went wrong, the more data you have, the better your chances of finding the cause. At the same time, there are practical limits, and you don't want to be wading through tons of unimportant data. 

 

Analysis

At this step, you need to decide how you can fix the problem. In some cases, the person assigned the task might just be whoever was available at the time. In others, the maintenance lead chooses someone for their specific experience and expertise. 

Whoever is in charge needs to look at the incident report to determine the original cause of the problem. Usually, they can use a combination of root cause analysis and a careful review of the asset's maintenance and repairs histories. 

Corrective action 

Finally, at this step you implement the fix. Next, you must check that your solution was successful. For that, you need a clear idea of what you can and should track. 

For example, an asset that should be producing ten tin cans a minute is only able to produce three. After some analysis, you determine that the problem is a misaligned conveyor belt. After fixing it, you then need to go back and make sure that asset is back up to producing ten cans a minute.    

How does a CMMS make FRACAS easier? 

A good modern CMMS makes every step of FRACAS easier. 

Remember, the key to FRACAS is getting good data right from the start. With the open maintenance request portal, it'd be easy for the team to enter relevant data in real time. Instead of having to remember everything and then write it down, your techs can quickly access the CMMS and enter data instantly. And once data is in the system, the central database makes it available to everyone on the team. 

Later, at the analysis stage, technicians have access to comprehensive asset maintenance and repairs histories. Because they know exactly what was done to the asset and when, they can more easily look for trends that reveal root causes. 

WorkOrderSoftware_Desktop

For corrective action, you can build out work orders packed with everything a tech needs to do the work properly, including: 

  • Step-by-step instructions 
  • Customizable checklists 
  • Associated parts and materials 
  • Digital images, schematics, and OEM manuals 

And because you can use the software to see in real time when the tech closes out the work order, you know exactly when to start checking that the solution was the right one. 

Next steps 

Ready to add FRACAS to your maintenance toolbox? 

Hippo's here to help you get the solution that works best for you, including answering your questions about maintenance management software, helping you book a live software demo, or even setting you up with a free trial  

Summary 

Preventive maintenance is a great way to find problems early. But to make sure you're using the right fixes, you also need failure reporting, analysis, and corrective action system (FRACAS). You start by collecting data about a problem using a custom incident report. From there, you can use root cause analysis to determine the real reason for the problem, which is the first step to determining the best possible solution. Finally, you close the loop by implementing your solution and tracking it. FRACAS helps you standardize your problem-solving system, making it so your maintenance team never wastes time deciding what to do next or re-inventing the wheel. It also makes it easier to work backwards when your solutions don't work. Modern CMMS software makes life easier every step of the way by helping you capture critical data in real time and share it with the entire maintenance team.  

About The Author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.
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