Reliability Centered Maintenance
When Does It Pay To Use Reliability Centered Maintenance?
RCM is a paper-based methodology. It is a rigorous process that follows set rules and requirements. You apply a formulaic textbook approach and churn your way through the analysis from start to finish.
It takes time and concentration. It demands a lot from the companies that use it and the people that participate in it! The payoff is it delivers much, much more value from it than what is put in!
A comment often heard about RCM is that "it is resource hungry" and needs people and a lot of time. You will also hear that "it takes so long". To many people it seems to be a colorless, slow trudge through a mountain of paper work and endless questions. But that does not reflect the great value it contributes to you and your organisation's equipment reliability and bottom-line profit.
RCM is a proven technique used to detect possible failure modes. Its intention is to identify problems and address them so that failure is prevented. It systematically takes a piece of equipment and forces you to analyze it in detail, one component at a time and one assembly at a time. When properly performed and applied you will slash your production problems and maintenance costs.
It is one of the best tools available in the world today to identify and prevent equipment failures.
RCM Simply Explained
A simple description of RCM is 'a brainstorming session over an equipment design to methodical find faults and address ways to prevent them'. It requires a group of experts that know the design, operations and maintenance of a piece of equipment. A checklist is used to focus and concentrate their minds on finding potential faults with the equipment.
When a possible fault is recognised the first action is to consider a design change to remove the problem. Where a design change is not possible, a preventive maintenance regime is put into place to monitor the condition of the component and address warning signs of impending failure.
In theory no equipment failures will occur when the recommendations of an RCM are fully implemented.
By doing an RCM you will have minimised the potential equipment problems and addressed them in the most suitable way possible, using the least amount of resources. RCM can deliver lowest cost maintenance, least spares inventory and continuous high reliability.
That is the justification for all the time and effort of an RCM! There will be no failures of the equipment for the cheapest maintenance cost possible.
Who Does The RCM?
Traditionally the project team putting a plant together does the RCM with the help from design, operations and maintenance specialists on the type of equipment being analysed. But I beg to differ!
To my thinking and experience, at this stage of equipment life it is too late to do the RCM! The equipment is already built with all its design faults. Now all that can be done is recognise the faults and put in a maintenance strategy to prevent or detect the failure. This produces the most expensive maintenance regime needed to provide high reliability.
If instead the RCM had been done at the design stage of the equipment, while it was still only a drawing on paper. Then the cost of maintenance and reliability could be 'cut to the bone' by making better engineering decisions before manufacturing and assembly. With better engineering and materials of construction choice at the design stage, the maintenance can be slashed to its bare minimum!
By having the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) do the RCM they could deliver the most tremendously reliable equipment to end-users. All at the lowest parts warehousing, operating and maintenance cost technologically possible.
Wow - that's just what we all want!
And to top it off, the OEM can hand over the maintenance strategy for the equipment to the user when he buys the item. The user then gets the least maintenance needed for the equipment that delivers excellent reliability at the least cost.
Double wow - that's what we all want!
Heck, maybe I'm onto something here! If I tell the OEM to do an RCM on their equipment, and redesign it as the results of the RCM tell them to do. They will give me the best machine for the price requiring the least maintenance possible.
Triple wow - that's what we all want!
In my eyes the original equipment manufacturer should be made responsible for conducting the RCM before the equipment leaves the drawing board!
When a piece of equipment is installed on a plant it should come with a full RCM report fully detailing the maintenance strategies to be used on the equipment. This will insure that when the strategies are implemented they will deliver years of trouble-free, continuously reliable equipment operation.
That's what we all want for our plants, and that's what we should demand from OEM's!
The OEM wins as well - they can deliver the best-valued equipment in the market place delivering the best reliability at the lowest cost to the users.
It's clearly in the user's benefit to buy it. Now that has to be the best OEM marketing strategy of the decade! The cost of the RCM can be shared over future sales so that no one buyer has to pay for it all. The buyers get highly reliable equipment at a good price, and the OEM gets business growth.
What If You Already Have Equipment In An Existing Plant?
If you have existing plant already in use the very best thing you can do is go back and do what the OEM didn't do. Do the RCM yourself on every piece of problem equipment. But with one difference - you have actual plant history and expert knowledge of how the equipment performs for you.
When RCM is applied at this stage it is known as Preventive Maintenance Optimisation (PMO). The RCM methodology is still used but now only the known failures are analysed. Those that have not happened, or cannot happen, are dismissed. The PMO procedure is quicker than RCM.
Like RCM, you gather a group together to critically analyse items of equipment using the same methodical question and answer procedure. The beauty of doing RCM on your own equipment is that you have the experts in-house. Your own engineers, operators and maintenance people are the experts you use. Together you all come up with the equipment redesign, operations and maintenance strategies to dramatically lift reliability at the least lifetime cost.
Doing an RCM from time to time on your plant's problem equipment will deliver you the least cost maintenance for the greatest reliability. Over time you remove the problems as each piece of plant comes to the top of the 'hit' list. That is a strategy that will get you years of higher profits, less stress on production and maintenance people and a better night's sleep for you!
Quadruple wow - that's what we all want!
The Great Value Of RCM.
Look at the time it takes you to do an RCM or PMO as an investment. The payback is time, money and peacefulness. Time is money. Money is happy shareholders and managers. And peacefulness is a longer, happier life for you. The time used on an RCM is given back multiplied. You save years of stress. And you make lots of profit from NOT having equipment failures.
All equipment maintenance problems can be prevented on the drawing board! When the right decisions are made during an equipment's design they are reflected in better performance and lower costs during its operating life. Hit on the OEM to do their own RCM and pass the reliability benefits onto you and your organisation!
Also featured Author at www.feedforward.com.au
If you would like to read more of Mike Sondalini's insight on various maintenance management techniques, download his ebook titled "Asset Maintenance Systems & Methods"
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