Corrective and preventive action – also known as CAPA, which stands for Corrective Action, Preventive Action – is a fundamental aspect of quality management and continuous improvement of business processes.

Understanding and correctly applying CAPA is essential to ensure high-quality products and services in the industrial context. This article explores the differences between corrective actions – CA – and preventive actions – PA -, their implementation process, some practical examples of their application, and the benefits of adopting an effective CAPA system.

Definition of Corrective Action (CA)

Corrective actions are actions implemented to eliminate the cause of a non-conformity, defect or other undesirable situation that has already occurred. These actions aim to prevent the recurrence of the identified problem and may include process changes, staff training, revision of procedures, improvement of control systems and implementation of new technology.

Corrective actions are based on analysing the root causes of the problem and require a thorough assessment of the situation to ensure an effective and lasting solution.

Definition of Preventive Action (PA)

Preventive actions are measures taken to avoid the occurrence of potential non-conformities, defects or undesirable situations. Unlike corrective actions, preventive actions focus, as their name also implies, on preventing problems before they occur, based on analysing risks and opportunities for improvement.

These actions may include identifying areas for improvement, defining prevention plans, designing more robust processes and products, and implementing more effective monitoring and control systems.

The CA and PA process

The process of implementing corrective and preventive actions generally consists of six main steps:

  1. Identification of the problem or potential non-conformity. This stage involves detecting existing or potential issues through internal audits, customer complaints, employee reports or other sources of information.
  2. Root cause analysis of the problem or risk. This involves identifying the root causes of the problem or potential risk using tools such as Root Cause Analysis (or simply RCA) or the Ishikawa diagram – also known as a fishbone diagram.
  3. Definition of the necessary corrective or preventive actions. In this phase, appropriate actions to solve the problem or prevent the risk are developed and planned, considering available resources, time constraints and business priorities.
  4. Implementation of the established actions. Corrective and preventive actions are put into practice, involving all interested parties and closely monitoring the progress of the process.
  5. Verification of the effectiveness of the actions taken. After the actions have been implemented, assessing whether they have solved the problem or prevented the risk as intended is necessary. This may require the collection and analysis of data, as well as comparison with predetermined objectives and success criteria.
  6. Continuous monitoring and periodic review of the CAPA system. Finally, monitoring corrective and preventive actions continuously and regularly reviewing the CAPA system to ensure its optimal functioning and alignment with corporate objectives is crucial.

Example of corrective action

A series of defects in an electronic components factory is identified in a batch of products. A root cause analysis reveals that the problem is due to a poorly calibrated machine.

The corrective action consists of repairing and recalibrating the machine and checking and correcting any defective products. A periodic machine calibration procedure and specific operator training are implemented to prevent further problems.

Example of preventive action

During a risk analysis, the possibility of premature wear of certain machine parts is identified in the same factory.

The preventive action involves the scheduled replacement of worn parts, the adoption of a preventive maintenance plan and the installation of sensors to monitor the condition of critical components. In addition, collaboration is initiated with suppliers to improve the quality of worn parts.

Benefits of corrective and preventive actions

The implementation of an effective CAPA system brings numerous benefits to companies, including:

  • Improved product quality and reduced non-conformities. A well-managed corrective and preventive action system allows problems to be identified and resolved quickly, improving overall product quality and lowering non-conformities.
  • Reduction of costs associated with defects and customer complaints. CAPAs help reduce costs related to defective products, reprocessing, deviations and customer complaints.
  • Increased customer satisfaction through more reliable products and services. An effective CAPA system helps to ensure high-quality products and services, increasing customer confidence and satisfaction.
  • Improved process efficiency. Corrective and preventive actions help identify and resolve inefficiencies and problems in operational procedures, leading to increased efficiency and productivity.
  • Risk reduction. Proactively analysing potential sources of non-conformity and implementing preventive actions help reduce the risks associated with production processes and products, minimising the negative impact on customers and the company.
  • Creation of a culture of continuous improvement. Implementing an effective CAPA system promotes a culture of continuous improvement in which employees are involved and empowered in detecting and solving problems, contributing to the company’s growth and development.
  • Compliance with regulations and industry standards. A good corrective and preventive action system helps demonstrate the company’s commitment to quality management and compliance with applicable laws and regulations, enabling compliance with standards and other industry-specific regulations.

In conclusion, corrective and preventive actions are essential tools for maintaining and improving quality and efficiency in an organisation. With a CAPA system, companies can prevent and solve problems, reduce costs, increase customer satisfaction, improve process efficiency and comply with industry standards and regulations.

By fostering a culture of improvement and involving employees in identifying and managing corrective and preventive actions, it is possible to ensure effective implementation and achieving corporate goals.

InspecTeam and quality control

InspecTeam is dedicated to quality inspection in various fields, including manufacturing. It is crucial to control the quality of products during production to meet quality standards and customer requirements. InspecTeam offers inspection, audit and expediting services to ensure manufacturing companies comply with contract requirements.

In addition, InspecTeam works with companies to improve quality assurance and quality control procedures. With its quality expertise and experience, InspecTeam can optimise processes and provide solutions to ensure compliance with quality requirements.