Adriana is one of the Chalmers researchers with whom we are involved in the Digitala Stambanan Produktion (DSP) project. In the role of work package leader for WP 2, she contributes with her research on the root cause analysis across an entire value chain.

Why are you now working as a researcher at Chalmers?

My husband worked for Volvo and lived in Gothenburg in 2012, but he moved back to Brazil after two years. Even then, I visited Sweden on several occasions. After a few years in Brazil, we wanted to move abroad again and then choose between Germany and Sweden. We knew we would have a good time in Sweden, so that was our choice. I applied for a job at Volvo and a research position at Chalmers because I wanted to study more. Even before we moved to Sweden, I had email contact with Anders Skoog, professor of Supply Chain Management at Chalmers, because his research area was close to my interests. I was offered both the job at Volvo and the research position at Chalmers. My choice fell on Chalmers, and I now have Anders as my supervisor.

Can you tell us more about what your research involves?

In my research, I want to combine root cause analysis (RCA) with digital techniques to make it more efficient and thus facilitate companies to learn from mistakes and spend less time on firefighting activities. I look at RCA from different perspectives. In Digitala Stambanan Produktion, the perspective is entire value chains, and in addition, I am involved in another project where the focus is within a single company.

Adriana Ito
Adriana Ito

Work package manager

Digitala Stambanan Production

How come you concentrate your research on RCA in particular?

My studies at the master’s level dealt a lot with value chains and logistics. When I continued working after graduation, my mission became to perform RCA around incidents and accidents in value chains. Although the oil industry is very good at RCA, I saw opportunities to use digital tools to learn even better from events and prevent them from happening again. Much time and resources can be saved for companies if they can avoid fire brigade actions and instead work preventively. Therefore, I had a clear focus for my research from the beginning.

Can you describe the area of RCA for those who are less familiar?

RCA can be divided into two areas:

  • One field, the more traditional one, where you have to use conventional tools to perform RCA without much help from technology
  • The other field, there is RCA, which considers the context we live in nowadays. Here, it is often a question of solving specific problems within defined areas, for example, electronics.
    RCA is ubiquitous around the world, and no country is ahead of the others in terms of the use of RCA.

RCA or root cause analysis is a collective name for methodologies that aim to find the underlying cause of why a problem occurred to eliminate it from happening again.

How do you see your research connecting to what Digitala Stambanan is working on?

In some circumstances, a collaboration between companies is needed to get to the root of a problem. When it comes to communication between companies, it often takes place between the sales and purchasing departments at the companies. Still, when issues need to be investigated, those with the knowledge are rarely found within the sales or purchasing department. Therefore, other communication routes and effective ways of sharing information are needed. Here Digitala Stambanan’s digital platforms come in as interesting enablers to solving problems more agile and flexibly. Companies in value chains need to talk about events, risks constantly, and causes to improve together. There are many steps within a company that can be interesting to outsiders. In addition, we see that the communication challenges in value chains are similar to those in the organization of slightly larger companies where silo effects between, for example, production, maintenance, and quality departments make it difficult to find the root causes of problems.

What does the research look like around RCA? Do you collaborate with other researchers?

More people are researching RCA, but it’s a few. Mostly I have email conversations with some of them. I collaborate a lot with my research colleagues in my group at Chalmers. Even if we research different things, we have much experience to exchange. Right now, I also collaborate with RISE, which has a group that works with RCA, data analysis, and preventive maintenance.

We like collaboration within Digitala Stambanan. We also see that collaboration within the EU is essential for creating alternatives to digital platforms from Asia and America. How do you see that we can cooperate better on a European level?

People must see the value in working together; otherwise, it takes time to make it happen. As researchers, we could be better at communicating our knowledge. We need to speak the same language as the companies and not become too abstract. Working with demonstrators who clearly show the value of collaborating is excellent. Then we must communicate and spread the message in different ways. Digitala Stambanan is the best project in terms of communication that I have been involved in. Much thanks to the fact that we are communicating via the website, social media, and various events during the project and not just at the end when the results are going to be summed up.

Digitala Stambanan strengthens the Swedish industry through digitalization of value chains. The project is a collaborative project financed by Vinnova and participating companies. The work is now underway in two tracks through the strategic innovation programs PiiA (Processindustriell IT & Automation), which drives the Digitala Stambanan IndTech project, and Produktion2030, which runs the Digitala Stambanan Produktion project.