Reliability Centered Maintenance
Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) is a structured approach to optimization of a preventative maintenance program. Originally developed by the airline industry, RCM is based on a few key principles:
- The rigor of maintenance should be appropriate for the consequences of failure.
- Failures should be predicted when cost-effective to do so.
Building on these key principles, and on an understanding of the maintenance process, the practitioner of RCM can develop optimal routine maintenance tasks plus identify selected instances where design or operational practice changes can lead to performance improvement.
RCM, as practiced by Loma Consulting, also includes the process of Performance Feedback and Refinement, which enables the organization implementing RCM to help ensure that the program remains optimal as the company builds experience. RCM and the other tools discussed in this website represent key elements of the Asset Management process. Ideally, Loma Consulting will integrate RCM with enhanced application of the CMMS, data collection techniques, and data mining to provide a comprehensive program.
The RCM philosophy is simple and compatible with standard methods of maintenance program management. Implementing it requires a set of ordered steps. The end result of RCM is an optimal routine maintenance strategy with a documented technical basis. Appropriate discussion and supporting justifications are provided for each decision that is not obvious in nature. Skills learned in conducting RCM studies can be put to use in maintaining an optimal posture for the routine maintenance program over the long term.
RCM has been in use since the 1970s in the airline industry, and since the 1980s in other industries. But its principles remain true. Loma has worked to make RCM a tool for today. While others have looked to short-circuit the process by eliminating steps, Loma practices the traditional RCM approach. We do consider the use of standard reference tasks/intervals - known as templates - as a good practice, if for no other reason than as a sanity check. A large number of assets have been analyzed, and templates can provide insights into maintenance strategies.
Loma also considers more detailed investigation into RCM when needed. This includes maintenance history reviews (including Weibull Analysis) and review of industry data. Loma has also attempted to integrate condition monitoring with the latest developments in Internet-of-Things, where onboard sensors communicate the status and health of equipment via SCADA/DCS to Operations.
RCM looks to address equipment failures. But to understand failures, one must understand what the equipment must do to satisfy its owner. These activities are known as functions in RCM. In most cases, the primary functions are easy to identify, but secondary functions, such as those related to safety, interlocks, alarms, etc. are harder to identify, and may be lost without careful review.
As a practitioner, Loma recommends conducting RCM for new organizations, organizations with significant failures or high costs, and organizations that have "lost their way" - no longer understand why they follow the strategies currently in place. RCM provides, if nothing else, a fresh perspective, on the basis of maintenance and operations strategies.