Friday, May 28, 2010

Root Causes

Important hearings about the BP blowout are going on in New Orleans this week. These are the fact finding hearings run by the Coast Guard and the MMS. They will search for the facts without the need for political sound bites for the sheeple back home. These hearings will form the basis for a rational, impartial evaluation of the causes of the blowout. (You already have my opinion)

Engineering design evolves over time. Failures, and an evaluation of them, is what improves engineering design. So, in some ways, the blowout is part of the evolution that improves offshore oil exploration. Engineers use a tool called Root Cause Analysis. The goal is to drill down (no pun intended) until the real cause of a failure is determined. The immediate cause may be the failure of a component or procedure, but by applying some Root Cause Analysis, the underlying reasons can be determined. It may be that a lack of maintenance caused the component to fail and that could be the ultimate root cause.

Reorganizing the MMS is simply a knee jerk reaction and is nothing more than a bunch of squirrels changing trees. When the hearings are over and the report prepared, there will be realistic recommendations that will improve the industry.

If you want to read more about the failures and the evolution of engineering design, read "To Engineering is Human, The Role of Failure in Successful Design" by Henry Petrosky.

2 comments:

倩亮 said...

沒有友情,人生何樂?........................................

Clay said...

http://energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20100614/Transocean.DWH.Internal.Investigation.Update.Interim.Report.June.8.2010.pdf
Nice root cause analysis chart on page 5 of Transocean's internal investigation.