Problem Hierarchy Cause & Effect Diagram Manufacturing Engineering Phase Model
This article focuses on challenges and problems related to Manufacturing Engineering Projects conducted by students in companies, and offers a new method to address these challenges.
The goal of Manufacturing Engineering Projects will normally be to improve the operational performance in some functional areas of a company. Due to the fact that many different causes might influence the operational performance, these projects are complex by nature which is challenging. It is not obvious how such problems should be approached. Often it seems to be difficult for students to formulate a comprehensive problem statement or problem specification for a project, and to decide exactly what they should investigate. It also seems to be quite difficult to design and build feasible solutions based on their findings. Literature offers a range of different methods and techniques to run projects and to solve problems. These methods and techniques may be valuable elements, but they do not constitute a complete and sufficient methodology to deal with Manufacturing Engineering Projects. So in general there is a need for a comprehensive and systematic method which can support the formulation of a problem statement and guide the selection of investigations that should be performed in a Manufacturing Engineering Project, as well as support the generation of ideas for solutions.
At the Technical University of Denmark we have worked with the development of such a method. Based on experience from a large number of projects in companies conducted by students in the BSc. Manufacturing Engineering Study Programme, two new tools have been developed to support students in conducting Manufacturing Engineering Projects. One is a general phase model for Manufacturing Engineering Projects, and the other is a tool to support problem analysis. The latter is called a ‘Problem Hierarchy’ and it includes basic ideas from ‘Cause & Effect Analysis’ also known from Total Quality Management (TQM) and Lean Management, and from the method ‘5 times why’ which comes from Root Cause Analysis in Maintenance Engineering.
As a final step the phase model and the Problem Hierarchy are integrated into a new generic method that offers a systematic approach and seems to address the challenges