Basic Principles of a Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) Program

Basic Principles of a Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) Program

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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A reliability-centered maintenance program is a useful tool in contexts where the long-term viability of a product or system is of critical value, and the main focus in its maintenance is supposed to be to ensure that it remains usable for as long as possible. It has applications in many sectors and it’s quite the diverse field in terms of what it offers, and it’s a good idea to familiarize oneself with the basic principles behind it in order to be prepared to deal with situations that require proper attention.

Determine the Intended Purpose of the Item

The most important starting point for implementing an RCM program is to figure out exactly what a certain piece of equipment is supposed to do in the first place. This will have the biggest impact on how the maintenance of that item is handled in the long run, and it will also shed some light on the overall importance of the item in the grand scheme of things. Obviously, items with a lower importance for the successful operation of the system should be placed lower on the priority list, while those that have the biggest potential to cause things to go down should be kept in check on a regular basis.

Determine Possible Failure Modes

Next, you have to know exactly how each of those items can potentially fail, and what the results of that would be. Failure modes can vary significantly across the board, especially when you consider the different ways you can utilize some of those items, and it’s a good idea to take into consideration every possible way a piece of equipment can break down. It’s not enough to just focus on one specific mode of failure that tends to happen most often. You also need to know how those failure modes can be recovered from – sometimes this can give you a good idea of what to focus on in your preventative maintenance. This can help you implement a correct RCM program when you get to the next steps and start to sort out your plan of action. Having a lot of information to work with from the start is one of the best ways to ensure that your implementation of RCM will be a successful one, rather than something that will drag down your business as a whole.

Narrow Down Root Causes for Failures

Once you’ve figured out how your different components can fail, you have to understand what causes those failures in the first place. Like failures themselves, root causes can vary and there may be more than one per item, making it important to investigate each case deeply until you’ve gotten to the true root cause. Beware of false leads that might give you the wrong impression about what’s causing the problems you’re experiencing, and make sure that you play out an example situation that involves each root cause, if possible. That way, you’ll know exactly how things evolve in case something goes wrong, and you’ll know how the problem is likely going to manifest itself over time.

Set up a List of Actions That Specifically Addresses Failures 

Once you know what possible failures you can encounter and what causes them in most cases, set up a list of actions that should be taken to keep the item in check over time. As we mentioned above, RCM is all about ensuring that your equipment remains usable for a long period of time without needing to put too much effort into repairs and other similar procedures. Preventing problems from occurring is, after all, a much cheaper solution than dealing with them once they’ve already presented themselves. That’s the core idea of RCM, and a concept you’ll want to grasp as deeply as possible when trying to implement a program like that into your organization. The sooner you make sure that your systems are aligned with the idea of long-term maintenance, the better performance you’re going to see from them in the long run. You may not even realize how much money and time you’re wasting on repair procedures right now, and this is a problem that can definitely be minimized with the proper use of RCM.

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Original: https://www.shmula.com/basic-principles-of-a-reliability-centered-maintenance-rcm-program/25902/
By: Shmula Contributor
Posted: June 6, 2018, 1:00 pm

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