defect containmentIn Part One, we talked about defining the defect or error we are trying to eliminate.

We know that the definition may not be correct due to our lack of knowledge of all the aspects of the problem; so we want to develop a list of data that we want to gather.

The data may be available already – as part of regular process monitoring or other sources (maybe the daily high and low temperatures for a series of days, for example). If so, ensure that someone is gathering the data and making it available to all who need it.

If the data is not readily available, determine the best way to gather it.

Please note that ‘best’ does not necessarily mean ‘easiest’ – we will be making future decisions based on the integrity of this data, and we need it to be accurate enough to meet present and future needs.

Once we have all the data that we think we need, we are ready to assess our next step – containment.

Containment is defined as as interim action that prevents the defect or error from getting worse, and minimizes or eliminates it on a temporary basis.

The containment action is discontinued when the permanent action is put in place.

Here’s an example that may explain the difference:

I’m in the kitchen cutting up vegetables, and the knife slips, cutting my hand in the process. The cut is pretty bad, so I’ll need stitches. Containment is to rinse the cut, bandage it, and get to a clinic or hospital.

Permanent action is to get the stitches put in; and remember that since the containment action is discarded after the permanent action is in place, the doctor is not going to replace the same bloody bandage I arrived in; (s)he’s going to use a new bandage if she needs to.

In the real world, containment usually doesn’t require any special skills (like the ability to suture skin); and many actions including the following are considered containment:

  • monitoring
  • inspecting
  • sorting
  • testing

So, our steps:

  • determine what data we need to make current and future decisions;
  • implement temporary containment while we figure out what to do next.

In part three we’ll talk about identifying the root cause.