What is Reliability Centered Maintenance?

Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) is a systematic process framework and methodology for defining the most efficient and efficient maintenance management plan for a specific asset, system or component.

RCM is a part of the more significant Reliability Engineering discipline. Reliability is defined as the ability of a product to perform its intended function without failure, for a specified period and under understated operating conditions.

The four defining principles of Reliability Centered Maintenance are:

  • Preserving the system function in its operating context
  • Prioritization of failures by determining the consequences and impact
  • Identification of particular failure modes that can potentially cause system failure
  • Design of appropriate reliability maintenance program

RCM has been defined by SAE International under technical standard SAEJA-1011, and compliance with RCM standards is voluntary. RCM focuses on the safe minimum level of maintenance. It emphasises the operating context of the asset, to assess the failure modes and mitigate them to achieve maintenance reliability and availability at the lowest cost.


Business Benefits of RCM:

Benefits of Reliability Centered Maintenance adoption include:

  • Reduced failures and downtime costs
  • A shift from emergency fixes to proactive maintenance
  • Improved productivity and efficiency of the team
  • Increase output and quality
  • Safer operations
  • Better alignment of maintenance goals with business goals

Evolution of Reliability Centered Maintenance:

Reliability Centered Maintenance had its origins in the aeronautical industry. The term was introduced by Tom Matteson, Stanley Nowlan, Howard Heap, who were working with United Airlines. Department of Defense sponsored the RCM efforts and popularized the concept leading to its adoption across aviation, navy, nuclear and other mission-critical applications. John Moubray (1949-2004) enriched the idea and popularized RCM to a broader audience among commercial-industrial sector.

Reliability Centered Maintenance – SAE Evaluation Criteria:

Commercial adoption of RCM led to the emergence of different variants of RCM over time that is at times contrary to each other. SAE JA-1011 standard specifies seven evaluation criteria that must be addressed in a sequential manner, for a framework to qualify as RCM. They are,

  1. What are the functions and associated performance standards of the asset in its present operating context
  2. In what ways can it fail to fulfil its functions?
  3. What causes each functional failure?
  4. What happens when each failure occurs?
  5. In what way does each failure matter?
  6. What can be done to predict or prevent each failure?
  7. What should be done if a suitable proactive task cannot be found?

RCM Based Approach to Reliable Maintenance Planning:

SAE thus specifies a structured approach to defining the RCM, starting from understanding the functions and performance of asset in its operating context, traversing through the possible causes of failure, the consequences and impact of such failures, and defining a comprehensive maintenance strategy.

A maintenance plan can include preventive maintenance, condition maintenance, run-to-failure and proactive maintenance techniques to address potential failures effectively. Prioritization of failures based on criticality, consequences, and impact can determine the maintenance and planning approach. Equipment that is non-critical for the functioning of the most extensive system (plant) can be left to run-to-failure whereas advanced condition monitoring techniques and predictive maintenance can be applied to a highly critical equipment.

Thus the systematic approach results in an integrated and cost-effective maintenance reliability plan, designed to address the dominant failure modes. RCM focusses on operating context over design and thus ensures reliability and availability at the lowest cost.

Principal Components of Reliability Centered Maintenance:

Failures and countermeasures are the essences of RCM Asset Maintenance. SAE classifies the consequences of failures into

  • Hidden failure consequences
  • Safety and environmental consequences
  • Operational consequences and
  • Non-operational consequences

RCM offers five principal options for managing the failures.

1. Run-to-failure: Integral part of the acceptance of failures as part of business operations and operating the equipment till it fails. Usually practised under the following scenarios

  • Failures cannot be predicted or prevented beforehand.
  • Equipment is non-critical to the overall plant operations. Part of this strategy is to make available detailed troubleshooting and restoration procedures and adequate spares and labour to ensure minimal downtime.

2. Detective Maintenance tasks: Discovery of hidden functional failures that have already occurred but are not evident to the operators. Inspections

3. Preventive Maintenance: It is a planned maintenance activity, performed on the equipment to reduce the risk of failure, by proactively identifying and mitigating potential shortcomings. Thus it prevents the recurrence of failures and impacts the equipment functioning positively.

4. Condition monitoring: Detection of potential failures well in advance by monitoring the critical parameters and identifying the symptoms. Can lead to Predictive Maintenance.

5. System Redesign: Any changes to the equipment design, operating environment or process to avert the failure or to make a hidden failure evident.

Reliability Centered Maintenance – Implementation Methodology:

The seven-step process to achieve the fail-safe approach to maintenance reliability

  1. Management Support and Culture: Maintenance Reliability goals start from business goals, and RCM adoption requires an enabling culture. Defining clear goals, objectives, and measures and adequate rewards can help in achieving Reliability Centered Maintenance across the enterprise.
  2. Performing Teams: Create a cross-functional team that will drive the RCM propagation. Impart proper training to the champions and participants to efficiently deliver the sum of parts.
  3. Defining the System Hierarchy: Define the system, components, relationships, Operating context and performance expectations system function will state the rationale for the existence of the asset, the intent of the process and expected performance standards. Progressively elaborate the primary function and support functions to the component level with due attention to the operating context.
  4. Perform Failure Mode Effect Analysis of critical systems and components to determine failure modes. Prioritize based on criticality, consequences, and impact.
  5. Maintenance Strategy by having the correct maintenance and reliability approach to specific assets based on the nature of the failure.
  6. Support Systems: Full-blown RCM rollout is extensive and requires robust information and process management system. Setting up Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) can help standardized process rollout, information collection and tracking the critical metrics. Modern CMMS also support failure analysis, preventive maintenance programs, and condition monitoring.
  7. Continuous Improvement: Learning from the failures and best practices and institutionalizing them across the enterprise can help improve reliable maintenance maturity over time and bring immense business benefits.

How can MaintWiz help you in your Reliability Centered Maintenance journey?

MaintWiz Industry 4.0 CMMS software helps in implementing Reliability Centered Maintenance via systematic failure identification and prioritization, well-defined maintenance and reliability response, intelligent machine integration for condition monitoring and outcome is driven analytics, to accomplish all the RCM goals.

MaintWiz is a Simple, Easy to use, Integrated, Cost effective and Scalable solution. MaintWiz CMMS is the ideal solution for organizations that would like to implement RCM. Business benefits include:

1. System definition: MaintWiz features a flexible hierarchy to build your assets structure in the way you want, thus preserving the system to a component relationship. Performance standards can be defined at the system level and can be elaborated to any of the child equipment under the tree, to measure at the aggregate or individual component level. Features visual tree structure to illustrate the system-component hierarchy.
2. Failure Analysis: Sophisticated functionalities under the hood for failure identification and prioritization that are simplified for the user with an easy-to-use interface. Supports analysis of failures to determine root cause analysis (why why analysis) and institute suitable corrective and preventive actions.
3. Multiple Site Support: It is offered as a Software-as-a-Service solution and thus has been designed to support multiple sites. It enables you to track and compare reliable maintenance and effectiveness across various locations.
4. Condition Monitoring: MaintWiz supports condition monitoring of the critical parameters at the system or the individual component level and thus can portray equipment performance and provide first symptom alerts on potential failures.
5. Preventive maintenance: Powerful feature set to manage the entire preventive maintenance program, including scheduling, checklists, spare parts, tools management, resource management, tracking and maintenance scheduling.
6. Analytics: State-of-the-art analytics and interactive reports to monitor reliability and availability, operational efficiency, cost of maintenance, RCM adoption, and compliance.
7. Institutionalizing the Knowledge: MaintWiz supports the horizontal deployment of corrective and preventive maintenance techniques over the same class of equipment across the enterprise. Thus it helps in process standardization, the institutionalization of knowledge and continuous improvement.

With MaintWiz there are no entry or exit costs. It’s offered on a monthly subscription basis. Excel templates-based data upload enables you to start quickly on Day 1. Experience the complete power with Zero Capital Investments and Zero Implementation Time.

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