Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) is a process to ensure that the systems within your assets continue to do what you require in your operating context. It is generally used to achieve improvements in safe minimum levels of maintenance. Successful implementation of RCM usually leads to increase in cost effectiveness (up to 30% improvement), machine reliability, machine uptime, and a greater understanding of the level of asset based risk that the organisation is managing.
RCM reviews are best conducted on an full asset basis, but individual systems/sub-systems can benefit from applying this approach independent from other methods of maintenance development.
Clients often start with their problem assets and then apply RCM to their other assets as they see benefits over time.
RCM involves getting the relevant stakeholders together and effectively extracting their knowledge of the system and recording it. This information is then used to make more informed decisions on the types of maintenance interventions required and at what intervals.
Experience has shown that a good maintenance development engineer/team with the correct level of experience/expertise can come close to creating a maintenance schedule similar to that produced by RCM reviews, but the record of how they derived it and the decisions made are mostly not apparent and are reliant on retaining the knowledge of the individual/team. RCM solves this by:
- ensuring a consistent approach/process is used;
- recording data and decisions made in an auditable format;
- uses techniques and processes to make up for deficiencies in system knowledge and operation;
- ensuring that any RCM trained person can pick up the RCM output and review/improve it in the future (therefore greatly assists with succession planning);
- using a recognised system that can be used to challenge OEM or traditionally derived maintenance regimes.
It should be noted that RCM can be resource intensive initially, and is best performed on an ongoing review basis (annual reviews are normally recommended for most business critical assets). RCM is therefore not always appropriate for all levels of asset or business. Failure Defence Planning (FDP) is sometimes better utilised by small/medium maintenance organisations.