Observe │ Root Cause│ Counter Measure │ Control image

Manufacturing Excellence / Observe │ Root Cause│ Counter Measure │ Control


Root Cause



Through using this simple four step process, we have solved numerous problems that businesses have deemed unsolvable. See our case studies for examples of ORCC in action.


The first step is to truly understand what the problem is by visiting the place where the problem has or is happening.

By making observations, taking notes and asking these key questions you can begin to understand the problem.

These open questions are designed to funnel down the problem, we want to find out any relevant information and asking closed questions limits the range of answers we can get.

1.1         In detail, describe the problem.

1.2         What is the frequency of the problem?

1.3         Are there any patterns?

1.4         When was the problem first seen?

1.5         Did anything change around the time the problem appeared?

1.6         Where can the problem first be observed?

1.7         What is the “standard”, or target for the problem?

1.8         What is actually happening?

1.9         Write down the problem statement.

The final point, “Write down the problem statement.” should contain all the information we have gathered whilst answering the previous eight questions.

Root Cause

Developing the Root Cause tree is probably the most difficult part of the ORCC process.

The highest level of the tree should contain a few words that describe the problem we have described in the Observe section.

Record what the standard result should be and what the actual observed result is.

Asking ourselves, “what can directly affect this result?” should give us a few further areas to investigate.

Check the observed result and compared it against the standard result expected.

If it is not at standard, we ask ourselves “Do in know how to return it to standard?”, if we don’t, we need to investigate further.

We then repeat the process, by moving down a level, for every area that directly affects the out of standard one above.

Eventually we will have all areas that are delivering out of standard results identified, and we will know how to return these areas to standard.


Investigate every possible solution and their suitability for implementation.

Before any agreement for solution implementation is made, stakeholder agreement needs to be reached.

Once agreement and sign off has been agreed we can start implementing our improvements through a simple action plan.

Only complete one action at a time and measure the improvement once the action has been completed.


Implement solutions that will ensure the improvement is sustained.

Use the acronym ERIC to decide how robust your solution is.

  • Eliminate – has the likelihood of the problem been eliminated?
  • Reduce – have we reduced the likelihood of the problem reoccurring?
  • Isolate – have the isolated the factors that have contributed to the problem? (e.g. contamination)
  • Control – is there a chance that the problem will resurface if we don’t control the process?

Want an easy template to follow our methodology?

Click here to download our ORCC Card

Want to improve line speed by 10%? Click here.

Want to improve your business in 10 minutes? See our Manufacturing Improvement Plan.

Want to know more? Contact us today.


We are pleased with the progress we’re making at the Gweedore site, indeed we’re so pleased that we’re planning to roll out the programme to our other manufacturing sites.

John Donnelly, General Manager, Largo Foods, Ireland

This is the best I’ve seen this line run…I never thought we’d be able to get it up to this speed.

Operator – Bakery