Reliability centered maintenance (RCM) helps businesses perform their maintenance tasks in a safe, reliable, efficient, and cost-effective manner. The overall goal of an effective RCM program is to make sure that inspection and maintenance tasks help improve the safety and reliability of a company’s equipment.

A strong reliability centered maintenance program is one that can preserve system function, identify failure modes that jeopardize system function, prioritize those failure modes, and then select tasks to control the failure modes. In other words, an effective RCM program will pinpoint the functions of your company that are most important, and then improve their maintenance strategies in order to reduce system failures while increasing the availability and reliability of the assets.

Pros vs. Cons

A good RCM program will improve availability and reduce costs– sometimes up to 40%. On the flip side, however, RCMs cannot predict additional costs like evidence-based maintenance can. Therefore, additional costs of ownership are not factored in to the total cost of owning and maintaining assets.

What is the criteria for reliability centered maintenance?

Before implementing RCM processes you need to assess the following criteria by asking these seven questions:

  1. What are the functions and intended performance standards of each asset?

                          a. In other words, how does this piece of equipment function to meet both customer needs, as well as long-term business goals.

      2. How might these assets fail in providing the functions determined above?

                          a. Common failure modes include equipment fatigue, corrosion damage, manufacturing flaws, and human error.

      3. What events might cause these failure modes?

                          a. The root causes of these failures might include the asset coming to the end of its lifecycle, operating in harsh environmental conditions, or poor organizational strategies.

4. What are the consequences of these failure modes?

                           a. System failures will likely impact the quality and production of your products, as well as your operating and capital costs.

5. Why do these failures matter?

                           a. Beyond operational and production costs and processes, it’s important to assess the impact these failures will have on the environment and how they might jeopardize the safety of the equipment and operating staff.

6. What maintenance tasks should be put in place in order to prevent and predict the failure of the assets?

                           a. Determine the most effective and cost-efficient tasks to employ to diminish risk of failure and then implement them.

7. What alternatives can be implemented if a preventative task can’t be identified?

                           a. If the identified maintenance tasks are unable to preserve the safety and function of the equipment, other steps may need to be taken such as replacing or redesigning the unit altogether.

The answers to these questions should empower you to decide which components of RCM you should implement for your assets.

What are the components of reliability centered maintenance?

Below you’ll find the four components of an RCM program and how they’re typically implemented.

  • Reactive– for equipment that is non-critical, small, inconsequential, redundant, and unlikely to fail
  • Preventative– for equipment that has known failure patterns and is subjected to lots of wear and tear
  • Predictive– for equipment with random failure patterns, preventative induced failures and not subjected to wear and tear
  • Proactive– for equipment that needs acceptance testing, failure mode and effects analysis, and root cause failure analysis

Final Thoughts

Unlike other maintenance programs that are implemented for an entire facility, RCM enables you to be targeted by applying identified maintenance needs to each piece of your equipment individually. In return, you’ll be able to cut costs, improve safety, and do away with ineffective maintenance tasks for each of your assets. Though timely and costly to implement, RCM analysis and implementation will maintain asset compliance while reducing long-term maintenance costs and failures.

About ASI: Andromeda Systems, Incorporated (ASI) is an ISO-9001:2008 company committed to superior technical performance and excellence in customer satisfaction. Our mission is to assist asset and fleet managers in achieving optimal levels of economy, availability, and safety by developing and applying leading systems engineering tools, processes, and expertise. We are headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, with offices in Lexington Park, MD; Arlington, VA; Jacksonville, FL; Havelock, NC; Oklahoma City, OK and San Diego, CA.