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What is Reliability Centred Maintenance - RCM?

John Moubray in his preface to his book RCM II says
“Equipment failure has played a major part in some of the worst accidents and environmental incidents in industrial history.  As a result the processes by which these failures occur and what must be done to manage them are rapidly becoming very high priorities indeed… it becomes steadily more apparent just how many of these failures are caused by the very activities which are supposed to prevent them”

Moubray goes on to describe Reliability Centred Maintenance as…” a framework developed to address the challenges of modern maintenance by
• Selecting the most relevant techniques
• Dealing with each type of failure process
• Fulfilling the expectations of asset owners, users and society
• Managing in the most cost effective and enduring fashion
• Gaining the active support and co-operation of all people involved”

This all sounds very impressive and it is in that the framework it advocates asks searching questions of the implications of a whole range of failures affecting or likely to affect (either through local historic record or by equipment type and characteristics) the function(s) the equipment fulfils.  The outcomes are enveloped through a series of questions into a range of maintenance tasks including; on condition, restoration, discard or a combination of these.

So if it is so good a framework why don’t we just refer you to Mr Moubray?

Because good as the technique is its commercial application is prone to failure on a number of fronts, including…


Application to all equipment on site
Usually prohibitively expensive, I have known Reliability Centred Maintenance specialists quote 6 weeks for RCM on one piece of fairly straight forward equipment (a commercial oven) and they charge day rates!

Incomplete knowledge on failure modes and characteristics
Some knowledge of modes of failure, failure characteristics, condition monitoring techniques and an acceptance of the overall philosophy of condition based maintenance is essential for successful adoption.

Incomplete information to process
Clients simply do not have the depth of knowledge, usually break down history necessary to get outputs specific to their operating environment and cannot spare the personnel who might have that knowledge for the time required.

Loss of faith in the process
Client personnel go through long analysis and come out with answers they already knew or from experience question the relevance of.

Solution: 
Know your most critical equipment first (see article on Maintenance Strategy) and implement only where it will be cost effective or bring essential benefits (the implications to safety/environment/production are unacceptable).

Sort the possible failure modes into a priority list based on risk (the likelihood of failure x the consequences) then address only those with the highest risk factor.

Get training on the technique, get initial facilitation from the experts, form an internal team implement as and when you can.

At CSA we use a technique that utilises the best of Reliability Centred Maintenance and a technique called Failure Modes and Effects Criticality Analysis, (the criticality here should not be confused with Functional Criticality Analysis, in FMECA it merely determines the risk factor associated with failure modes of the equipment).  But again we recommend that this is applied in line with an overall Risk based management strategy.  The outcomes of the CSA method are…

• The identification of prolific and high consequence failure modes of an equipment
• Related failure characteristics and if and how deterioration might be identified
• Tasks that could identify deterioration (Condition Monitoring [CM] or Production Measures that act as CM) and their periodicity along with a cost benefit for their implementation
• A guide to PM compilation for the equipment  

CSA have implemented cost effective reliability centred maintenance programs for many leading manufacturers. For a no obligation initial chat and an indication as to cost; please complete the form and we will be happy to contact you to discuss how we may be able to help you.

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