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Updated on October 15, 2010

Corrective Action is based on a non conformance already occurred. Where as Preventive Action is based on suggestions / ideas from customers, employees or other stake holders to prevent a non confirming event from occurring.

An example

A factory received a complaint from a customer about a defective product. When the complaint was investigated, it revealed that the gauge, say 'X', that is used to measure a particular product parameter was beyond calibration due date. A root cause analysis (why-why analysis) was initiated. The investigation revealed the following:

Why? - Why was 'X' not calibrated on date?

Answer : Because this was not in the calibration recall list.

Why? - Why was the equipment not in the calibration recall list?

Answer: It was not on the recall list as the gauge was newly supplied.

Why? - Why newly supplied testing equipments are not included in the recall list?

Answer: The employees were not specifically trained on incorporating new equipments in calibration list. The training conducted to the staff on the calibration procedure was generic in nature.

Root Cause - Training does not address procedure in detail to the Staff.

Corrective Action - The staff are to be trained on the calibration procedure in detail.

What could be the preventive action?

Preventive Action is taken before a non conformance / defect / complaint occurs. The individual or organization is proactive to avoid a non conformance / complaint from occurring.

In contrast to the above example, in this case, the Technical manager of the production plant decides to evaluate his department's efficiency. Therefore he conducts an audit to confirm his departments' compliance with the Maintenance & Calibration procedures of the company. The Manager based on his audit takes the following action:

1 - Obtain an inventory of all the equipment to be calibrated to confirm that all equipments to be calibrated are listed in the recall list. During this process, he identifies the equipment 'X' was due on calibration the next month but wasn't listed.

2 - Ensure that all concerned staff possess a detailed knowledge about the procedure. If not, conduct a detailed training on the calibration and maintenance procedure, which also includes dealing with new equipments.

3 - Ensure that the training of the new employees have been revised to incorporate detailed procedure review.

The manager's timely action prevented customer complaint and saved the company image and his goodwill. He built the roof before the rain!!!

Its a well known proverb that "Prevention is better than Cure". In this context Prevention = Preventive Action & Cure = Corrective Action.

Therefore, its not only sufficient to take corrective action but also important to take preventive measures to avoid the defect/problem from occurring.

You may be also interested on Correction Vs. Corrective Action.


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