Preventive Actions vs. Corrective Actions

What's the difference?

In the older versions of ISO 9000, companies were required to separate preventive actions from corrective actions. What is the difference you might ask? Let me explain…

Corrective Actions are actions taken after something goes wrong. A mistake is made, defects are generated, and if they get to an end customer (We call this an “escape.”), then we have damaged our reputation in the marketplace. The cost of repairing the problem is sometimes quite significant, including opportunity costs of not producing more new products because we’re fixing the ones we already made. As Jack Bergman said, “There’s never enough time to do it right, but there’s always enough time to do it over.”

Preventive Actions are much more difficult to determine. They are actions taking because something might go wrong. For example, back when we were a manufacturing facility, we printed on sheets of aluminum. These sheets were conveyed to the printing presses on tables with castors. If a table hit a crack in the floor and dumped hundreds of sheets of aluminum on the floor, scratching and damaging them, we’d need to start a Corrective Action. Conversely, a Preventive Action would have been to recognize the possibility of this happening and patch the floor proactively, i.e. preventing the disaster from occurring in the first place.

It’s much harder to get people to think this way, and harder yet to get them to understand that you can’t just go out and refinish every floor in the building, at tremendous cost, when the possibility of occurrence is quite small. Perhaps you could just limit the number of sheets on a rolling table, or maybe purchase larger and more sturdy castors. These might be less expensive but just as effective, qualifying them also as preventive actions.

My favorite quote that inspires this practice is from the great hockey player, Wayne Gretzky, who said, “A good hockey player goes to where the puck is, and a great hockey player goes to where the puck is going to be.”

In many cases, your modern ERP system (We like Epicor.) can recognize potential disasters, and prevent them by embedding processes for your staff to follow. If you ERP can’t do this, then we need to talk. Contact us below because you need our help.

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