Direct Tool Inc. is a medium size tool manufacturing company located in the south western United States. The company produces a variety of hand tools and distributes them under several brand names to retail outlets. Direct Tool’s online production support system was developed in-house and was implemented two months ago. The system runs 24 hours a day in Direct Tool’s three manufacturing facilities.
Last Monday morning, the production support system developed a problem. When a report for certain parts was requested to be displayed on the screen, the displayed values were garbled. When she was alerted to the situation, Corinne Johnson, Direct Tool’s IT manager, immediately assigned a systems analyst to investigate the problem. Corinne instructed the analyst, Eric Wu, to resolve the problem and get the system up and running as soon as possible. Eric previously worked on two small maintenance projects for the production control system, so he was somewhat familiar with the application.
Eric worked all day on the problem, and by 6:30 p.m., he developed and implemented a fix. After verifying that the production support system was capable of producing correct part displays, Eric went home. Early the following morning, Corinne called Eric and two other members of the applications maintenance group to a meeting in her office, where she briefed them on a new adaptive maintenance project for another high-priority system. She asked them to begin work on the new project immediately.
Several nights later, the production control system crashed shortly after midnight. Every time the system was reactivated, it crashed again. Finally, around 2:30 a.m., all production lines were shut down and third-shift production workers were sent home. The production support system finally was corrected and full production was restored the following day, but by that time, Direct Tool had incurred thousands of dollars in lost production costs. The cause of the production support system crash was identified as a side effect of the fix that Eric made to the system.
1. Is the second production support system failure entirely unexpected?
2. Who is most to blame for the second system failure?
3. What might Corinne have done differently to avoid the situation? What might Eric have done differently?
4. Outline a new set of maintenance procedures that will help Direct Tool avoid such problems in the future.
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