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The Power Of Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) Optimizing Equipment Uptime & Performance

What is reliability-centered maintenance (RCM)?

RCM is a maintenance strategy suited for enterprises to optimize their maintenance program by determining maintenance techniques that will work the best for each physical asset.

The strategy that yields the best results for a category of assets may be inefficient in terms of functionality or cost.

RCM intends to keep equipment failures at bay with the best asset performance, utilization, and cost optimization. First adopted by the aviation industry, several industries currently adopt it.

Hit uptime and production targets with RCM

Considering the critical functions, RCM sets out to optimize maintenance strategies to minimize system failures and eventually increase equipment reliability and availability.

It involves identifying assets that tend to fail frequently or have grave consequences in the event of failure. The maintenance strategy forecasts possible failure modes and lists their consequences. Accordingly, maintenance managers formulate cost-effective maintenance techniques to minimize the likelihood of failure. The most effective techniques are adopted to improve the reliability factor of the facility.

How does RCM relate to preventive and predictive maintenance?

The terms Preventive Maintenance and reliability-centered maintenance are not synonymous. The former is very generic despite the advantages it has to offer.

While offering several benefits, it also tends to spike maintenance costs when overdone. Unlike preventive maintenance, RCM is selective and very efficient, offering well-balanced and wholesome benefits to a facility as it involves studying each asset carefully before assigning maintenance tasks.

Define preventive maintenance schedules that repeat based on specific time intervals or extent of asset usage when the approach is economically feasible to mitigate the risk of failure.

Define Condition-based maintenance schedules when it is technically and economically feasible to detect the occurrence of the failure mode.

In some cases, RCM may recommend proactive IoT technology stretching the boundaries of maintenance management. In the case of low-risk assets and instances where asset replacement is economical compared to the cost and time required for service, RCM assumes a pivotal role.

The goal of RCM is to keep costs down while upholding equipment reliability.

RCM plan beyond routine maintenance

A malfunctioning machinery poses a safety threat to facility occupants apart from high running costs. In addition, it also endangers the maintenance workers upon improperly planned preventive maintenance.

When an asset nears the tail end of its life, it fails quite often, no matter how well and promptly it is serviced.

Hence maintenance management software that supports RCM strategy provides a provision to calculate depreciation value, plan and procure assets via an integrated web portal, forecast spare parts demand for the current period based on past usage, a mechanism to track moving assets, etc.

How to implement a reliability-centered maintenance program?

A maintenance program is a genuine RCM program if it analyzes the answers to these questions:

1. What is expected from the asset and what are the associated benchmarks for good performance?

2. What are the different possible failure paths or modes?

3. What are the different possible reasons causing the failure?

4. What is the severity of the business impact if the asset fails?

5. Will the faulty operation of an asset entail a safety hazard? If yes, does the system trigger schedules that educate workers on PPE kits and safety measures?

6. If the asset failure poses a severe impact, have serial and parallel approvers been set to verify the correctness of fixes.

7. What are the possible consequences of each failure?

RCM for wider business intelligence and flexibility

For failure modes not associated with condition-based or preventive maintenance options, contemplate a system redesign to eliminate or modify the failure modes.

During the Implementation phase, it is important to regularly review each maintenance tactic and renew or modify it if required upon finding additional information. Thus RCM reduces costs, improves safety, and discards maintenance tasks that are no longer effective or appropriate for machinery. It ensures maintenance managers are flexible and intelligent in formulating and altering strategies. No more one size fits all approaches to maintenance!

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