Dr. Horst Grothus

Zero Failure Management

Eliminate the real root causes of all failures

Faulty or missing management decisions….

Your Learning Organization identifies and eliminates these risks

How to achieve Zero Failures, Zero Incidents, Zero Accidents, Zero Breakdowns?

Dr. Horst Grothus spent his life finding out. We are proud to share his findings with you. 

The Human Factor

Human errors contribute decisively. And they are being caused (or avoided) by Management.

Example from commercial airlines: A respected Central European airline since 1945 has lost 12 aircraft. Australian Quantas since its founding in 1927 hasn’t lost yet one. And that with the same types of aircraft under the same sky!

Most human errors are being provoked by a limited number of management faults of their individual organization. Zero Failures means: Identify and eliminate there faults! 

Foundation of Zero Failure Management

All kinds of Failures, breakdowns, quality defects, malfunctions, reduction of output, accidents, damage to the environment, to your plant and company’s image, defects at your plant components and your products, customers’ complaints, psychic damage to personnel follow very similar patterns:

To mr. Grothus, a DEFECT in Zero Failure Management is any aspect of a production-process that is undesired, not fulfilling the spec, etc. Grothus often used ‘defect’ when talking about ‘Failures’ or ‘breakdowns’ and QUALITY DEFECT when the quality of a process was insufficient…

Since nowadays most people talk about Failures (or breakdowns when talking about a machine related technical problem) when something goes wrong, and about DEFECTS or QUALITY DEFECTS when talking about a product being out of specification, we adapted his tekst in order to make this distinction more clear.

Basic Risk Factors

So look at the Basic Risk Factors:

  • Faulty communication;
  • procedures and documentation;
  • planning and design;
  • maintenance management;
  • organization and policy;
  • aptitude, training and experience of your personnel;
  • safety precautions;
  • housekeeping;
  • fault provoking environment in the work area;
  • conflicting tasks;
  • condition or availability of plant and equipment.

All these Basic Risk Factors share in common that they:

Zero Failure Management 

slashing Errors and Faults to nearly ZERO

Defining your new strategy 

You will know your present proportions of

  • Sporadic and Chronic Loss Events
  • acceptable and not-to-accept defects at your plant equipment

and find proper priorities directed

  • either at specific components and spots: equipment histories, frequently failing components, inspection and Condition Based Maintenance (probably your present policy)
  • or at general weaknesses of your organization for which only is responsible and which only can be improved by your Management

Maintenance Management

Your organization’s Maintenance Management may prove to be an important Basic Risk Factor

  • It will now follow an entirely different philosophy: The majority of defects are sporadic incidents (and not just normal deterioration)
  • Potentially defective components generally cannot  be individually predicted and (by Preventive Maintenance) controlled. Breakdowns must rather be avoided at all!
  • Failure patterns differ in terms of the permissible “Mean Time Between Failures” and their timely detectability. A Breakdown Standard helps you here. It tells you which damage you can accept and which you cannot.
  • Another standard tells you, which Wear-parts require particular care.


The rupture of a component is – you will agree with me – always absolutely inadmissible. Periodic inspections would usually not find him reliably at all either; for that, the time span (called “time perspective” by me) is too short between the moment when one detects a first crack and that of the final breakage.

And Friedrich Smaxwil, President of the German Railway Industry Association and Senior Vice President of Siemens Mobility, also says in this context: “Cracks are nothing unusual in themselves.” (FAZ 10/30/2008, P. 14). Here you see immediately that the safety culture is made at the very top. Most of the time, however, it is not so obvious; and then it takes zero defect management.

Would you fly with an airplane on which a wing breaks off from time to time and where the manufacturer says: “Cracks are nothing unusual in themselves”?