Maintenance management: How to utilize the 5 "huhs"

March 26, 2019

Be aware of side effects, from simple frustration to banging your head against a wall.

By the Captain

You may be wondering, “What are the 5 Huhs?” To put it simply, the 5 Huhs is the preferred tool for use in driving to a root cause that will never inform your work anyway. It falls under the RCA (Root Canal Analysis) category, because it is like pulling teeth to get anyone to do it.

There are other Root Canal Analysis tools, such as an A3, a Phishbone, and the “We Already Know The Cause” map. But why bother understanding the tools and knowing which one to implement for each situation? That requires time, training, and effort, and we all know that these things are a waste of time. At least we can sell others outside the organization the perception that all is well and “we” are doing it.

Here is how the tool works. Let’s say we have a bearing failure. The bearing has been in for about six months, so it has already reached its useful life, but this is just an example.

First, name the problem statement. Be as vague as possible so as to add no value to this waste of time. The problem statement for a failed bearing may be: “Bearing failed.”

Now that the problem has been defined, we have to ask why it failed. You must ask this question five times. Please have patience and try not to get frustrated. The dialogue may go as follows:

Question #1
You: Why did the bearing fail?
Them: Huh?

Patiently repeat yourself. Maybe they are merely hard of hearing.

Question #2
You: I said, “Why did the bearing fail?”
Them: Huh?

OK, maybe they are not hard of hearing. Maybe they just are not engaged.

Question #3
Them: Huh?

At this point, you may begin to pull your hair out, but you are not a quitter. Take a deep breath and compose yourself. Ask again.

Question #4
You: OK, maybe you are not understanding the game here. I said, “Why did the bearing fail?”
Them: And I said, “Huh?”

Just one more time and you are finally to your 5th Huh. Just get it over with.

Question #5
Me: This is your last chance. Why did the bearing fail?
Them: Huh?

About the Author: The Captain

Captain Unreliability is a satire of the state of the manufacturing industry in ’Merica today and is written by an industry professional known for using humor to get the point across. Stay tuned for more useless advice, and if you have topics you’d like to see covered or questions you’d like The Captain to weigh in on, contact The Captain directly at [email protected] or follow on Twitter @CUnreliability.

After asking the fifth time, make sure to document your findings so you have a record that you have wasted everyone’s time and that you just frustrated yourself, too.

It may be easier to implement the abbreviated version of this tool – this is known as the 2 Huhs. It is recommended for use for people who have high blood pressure, who lack patience, or who need to do it because it is required.

Side effects may occur. These may include frustration, wasted time, bulging forehead veins, banging-head-against-the-wall syndrome, back spasms, trips and falls, elbow scrapes, and bruising. If you have any of these symptoms, please go see the company nurse and know that there are millions more just like you.

So as you can see, this process is very simple to facilitate. If you need more help with the implementation of the 5 Huh Methodology, good luck!

About the Author

Alexis Gajewski | Senior Content Strategist

Alexis Gajewski has over 15 years of experience in the maintenance, reliability, operations, and manufacturing space. She joined Plant Services in 2008 and works to bring readers the news, insight, and information they need to make the right decisions for their plants. Alexis also authors “The Lighter Side of Manufacturing,” a blog that highlights the fun and innovative advances in the industrial sector. 

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