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Step 1.6 Revealing sources and causes of inefficiency

How to analyse the root causes of significant material and energy losses and pollution generation.


As the last level of the TEST diagnosis, this step centres on selected priority flows and focus areas and helps to identify the most cost-efficient RECP interventions, as it may not be feasible or worthwhile to analyse every  action in detail. 

The priority flows within the identified focus areas are analysed in detail to disclose inefficiencies – the physical points where a production input becomes a loss (non-product output) – and understand the causes. These usually relate to several factors that drive material and energy use, including process input quality, specific process operating parameters e.g. temperature, throughput, speed, etc., features of the process technology, human behaviour, and product design. Several widely applied tools can be used for cause analysis, such as the fishbone (or Ishikawa) diagram, the 5 Ms; 5 Why’s, Six Sigma etc.

Depending on the complexity of the selected focus areas, detailed material and energy-mass balances can be required to model specific sub-processes, mapping all inputs (energy, water, auxiliaries, operating and packaging materials) and outputs of the focus area to understand all the causes of the losses.

Implementing this step of detailed analysis may require both expert appraisal and data analysis to understand what is actually happening within a specific part of the process. Data measurements are also useful for setting up the baseline and the Operational Performance Indicators (OPIs) at the level of specific processes, and these can be used for more accurate feasibility analysis of improvement options and/or for calculating real savings and performance improvements. It is recommended to install a permanent monitoring system for systematic monitoring of the resource efficiency performance of important sources of losses.