Reliability-centered maintenance is a process of planning maintenance inspections and procedures to ensure your equipment what you need them to do and to preserve its current function(s).
Reliability-centered maintenance, or RCM, begins with identifying the problems and potential problems with your equipment, beginning with how they can fail. RCM then leads you through an orderly process that leads you to identifying ways to prevent those failures.
We'll explain more in this article.
The JA1011 Standard, created by the Society of Automotive Engineers, is where you should begin your research into reliability-centered maintenance.
Titled "Evaluation Criteria for Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RMC) Processes," JA1011 explains a series of 7 steps or questions to ask while planning and performing reliability-centered maintenance. They are:
Before we go further, we invite you to read our article on the Failure-Modes and Effects Analysis, or FMEA. As you'll see, it's centrally related to the method we just listed for you.
The term reliability-centered maintenance was first used publicly by executives at United Airlines to describe optimum maintenance requirements for airplanes. By 1978, the United States Department of Defense had sponsored a report and other materials on reliability-centered maintenance, bringing the phrase and the concepts to greater public attention.
Before this work was done, the airline industry assumed that equipment tended to have a predictable, relatively-defined lifetime during which reliable operation could be assumed. As a result of the high crash rate of early jets, studies were conducted and it was learned that the idea of a predictable, steady lifetime expectation wasn't true. That meant replacement couldn't just be scheduled for a short period of time before the end of that anticipated safe lifetime.
Here are some of the new understandings that came about as a result of this research:
Some failures are critical. You absolutely don't want them to happen because the cost, in financial or other terms, will be very high.
Other failures aren't so critical. You don't want them to happen--there's a reason we call them failures, after all--but you can weather the storm if the failure does occur. At least you can weather the storm much better than you can the storm that comes from one of those critical failures.
If you're familiar with basic risk management techniques, this approach probably isn't new to you.
Your organization might want to implement RCM at your workplace. Let us know if you have questions about training your workforce on RCM concepts or techniques and please share your insight if you're currently using RCM already.