Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) is defined as a process to ensure that physical assets continue to do what their users require of them in their present operating context. It is an engineering framework that enables the definition of a complete maintenance regime along with other policies on how to manage failures and their consequences.
It regards maintenance as the means to maintain the functions a user may require of machinery in a defined operating context. As a discipline, reliability centered maintenance enables machinery stakeholders to monitor, assess, predict and generally understand the working of their physical assets.
Reliability centered maintenance is generally used to achieve improvements in fields such as the establishment of safe minimum levels of maintenance, changes to operating procedures and strategies and the establishment of capital maintenance regimes and plans.
The successful implementation of Reliability centered maintenance (RCM) will lead to an increase in cost effectiveness, machine uptime, and a greater understanding of the level of risk that the organization is managing.
RCM was brought out of the aircraft industry, where it had its origins, into other industries in 1991, when John Moubray (d) published his first book on the subject. In the 1990’s RCM methods proliferated as many sought to capitalize on the success of its early adopters. Some methods worked well, some did not. There was considerable confusion and disagreement over what exactly was the RCM process. In 1998, RCM was defined by the technical standard SAE JA-1011, “Evaluation Criteria for RCM Processes”, which sets out the minimum criteria that any process should meet before it can be called RCM. This starts with the 7 questions below, worked through in the order that they are listed:
- What is the item supposed to do and its associated performance standards?
- In what ways can it fail to provide the required functions?
- What are the events that cause each failure?
- What happens when each failure occurs?
- In what way does each failure matter?
- What systematic task can be performed proactively to prevent, or to diminish to a satisfactory degree, the consequences of the failure?
- What must be done if a suitable preventive task cannot be found?
Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) In Practice
The term “reliability centered maintenance” was first used in public papers authored by Tom Matteson, Stanley Nowlan, Howard Heap, and other senior executives and engineers at United Airlines (UAL) to describe a process used to determine the optimum maintenance requirements for aircraft. After being created by the commercial aviation industry, RCM was adopted by the U.S. military (beginning in the mid-1970s) and by the U.S. commercial nuclear power industry (in the 1980s).
Starting in the late 1980s, an independent initiative led by John Moubray corrected some early flaws in the process, and adapted it for use in the wider industry. John was also responsible for popularizing the method and for introducing it to much of the industrial community outside of the Aviation industry.
In the decades since then, industry has undergone massive change. Increased economic pressures and competition, tied with advances in lean thinking, efficiency methods and increasingly more capable technology tools, keep us busy and many companies now struggle to find the people required to carry out an RCM initiative. Although a RCM is now a voluntary standard, it provides a reference for companies looking to ensure they’re getting a process, software package or service that is in line with the original intent.
As you are well aware, a reliability culture moves its organization away from breakdown and repair mentality to a culture of asset management. Reliability is the cornerstone of risk identification and mitigation.
To this day, RCM remains incredibly successful if applied correctly. It can be used to improve your safety, environmental performance, output and operating costs. You an learn how to achieve these results with RCM training. Since 2015, Conscious Asset has been offering its own brand of RCM. In 2017, together with Jesus Sifonte and his companies in Puerto Rico, we produced a joint effort resulting in “Reliability Centered Maintenance – Rengineered” (RCM-R®).
Our RCM-R® training courses apply reliability centered maintenance best practices and use real life case studies to explore the techniques you need to re-define your maintenance programs. You’ll develop a greater knowledge about asset failure consequences and how to manage them. Learn more here.Reliability Training