Most manufacturing professionals are familiar with the 5 Whys as a tool for problem-solving. This iterative technique is used when a problem has been identified, but the root cause is unclear — or, to put it another way, when you know “What” but you don’t know “Why.” To get to “Why,” the investigation team literally asks the question “Why” five times, or until the true root cause is identified.

This technique is a staple of the Toyota Production System, and is said to have originally been developed in the 1930s by Sakichi Toyoda himself.

As powerful as this technique is, there is another “Why” question that not enough people are asking: “Why can’t technology provide information about ‘What?’”

Here’s what I mean. Let’s say your visual inspection system does its job and identifies a unit that is missing a component. The visual inspection system may use basic computer vision techniques or cutting-edge AI, but ultimately it provides you with a simplistic binary output: good or not good. 

If the output is “not good,” then human beings have to come and solve for root cause. 

From a technology standpoint, the visual inspection represents the best of Industry 4.0 — but the process it kicks off is still the 1930s vintage.

Complementing inspection with a visual “bill of process”

Think of visual inspection as the binary assessment of a moment in time. If you’re not satisfied with the assessment, then you need to look back in time to find the cause. In the 1930s, Toyoda-san created the 5 Whys as the best possible method for peering back in time. Today, you have a better method: instant video replay.

Drishti places a camera in each station to observe the process. Our AI measures and validates the process that’s being performed. But the video that we stream is captured and stored — and made available to support root cause analysis.

Drishti is highly complementary to visual inspection systems. Once our customers know “What,” they use Drishti to quickly replay video of that exact unit as it passes down the line. Following it from station to station, they often find themselves watching the issue occurring right before their eyes. In some cases, the video makes it possible to identify root cause in moments; in other cases, it answers three of the first five Whys. In all cases, resolution is quicker and countermeasures can be more narrowly applied.

Why did the Warriors fall behind?

The best way to think about this is to use a sports analogy. 

The New York Times ran an in-depth story about why the Golden State Warriors would dominate the third quarter (at the time, anyway): they would spend halftime reviewing video of everything that went wrong

In this analogy, the “What” is the halftime score; the “Why,” which is only available using video replay, is every blown play and missed opportunity. 

The other team also knows the “What.” Because the Warriors are using complementary tools to dig into the “Why,” they’re able to course correct and play a stronger second half while the competing team is unaware of what’s going wrong.

That’s how we view Drishti: a complement to visual inspection, which lets you go from “What” to “Why” much quicker. 

Can’t get enough traceability content from Drishti? Read how a Drishti customer performed 2 months of investigation in about 20 minutes.