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Academic Articles
Regular Paper (Invited) Vol.2 (2010) p.135 - p.148

An activity theory-based approach for industrial trouble analysis and its application to similarity evaluation beyond the superficial resemblance

Hiroshi NARAZAKI1, Takashi FUKUSHIMA1 and Tetsuo SAWARAGI2
1 Production Systems laboratory, Kobe Steel, Ltd., 5-5 Takatsukadai 1-chome, Nishi-ku, Kobe, 651-2271 Japan
2 Dept. of Mechanical Engineering and Science, Graduate School of Kyoto University, Yoshida Honmachi, Sakyo, Kyoto, 606-8501 Japan
Many industrial organizations are interested in using the past failure experiences for the educational purposes for the prevention of future troubles and accidents as well as the improvement of the quality of their products and services. The education often employs the style of drawing lessons from similar experiences in the past, and, concerning the similarity, it is important to look at the background causes and tacit factors such as the organizational culture and value systems rather than the superficial phenomena such as wrong operations. However, the analysis of such background factors tends to depend on human subjective judgments and personal impressions. Aware of such problem, this paper discusses an approach to establish a framework to give the guideline for the analysis. Referring to Y. Engestroem’s activity theory, our framework describes a dynamical process where a small seed of a problem propagates and grows to an explicit problem such as a trouble or an accident. The analysis is a process of interpreting the facts in terms of the activity structure, and this enables the generalization and similarity evaluation of an individual case in terms of the activity structure, beyond the superficial and domain-specific descriptions. Using a example of a quality defect trouble in a manufacturing process, we explain our approach and shows how an accident in a different domain can be drawn as a similar case by looking at the inner activity structure.
failure analysis, trouble database, accident database, activity theory, Similarity evaluation, knowledge management
Full Paper: PDF EJAM Vol.2 pp.135-148 "An activity theory-based approach for industrial trouble analysis and its application to similarity evaluation beyond the superficial resemblance"
Article Information
Article history:
Received 1 October 2010
Accepted 22 November 2010