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Insight  |  Jul 10, 2019  |  Arora

What is Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) and How Do You Get There?

  • What is RCM and How Do You Get There?

What is RCM?

Reliability centered maintenance (RCM) is a study in how to balance requirements using risk-ranking, optimized maintenance strategies, and focusing on worst offenders. RCM analysis is a review process to preserve a system’s function by identifying likely failure modes and assigning feasible proactive tasks. This overall strategy helps stakeholders work on the right asset, with the right strategy, at the right time, by the right resource, at the least cost. If this strategy succeeds, there should be less unplanned work – meaning less equipment failures.

But How Do You Get There?

Being an advanced process, there are several steps to “get there”:

  1. Perform benchmarking – Acquire the knowledge essential to asset management; you don’t know what you don’t know. Evaluate new/innovative ideas to see if they might add value to corporate goals/objectives.
  2. Identify the endgame – Create a policy statement that converts the mission/vision into an Asset Management Plan that establishes SLA requirements and tracks condition. Create a CMMS Utilization Plan that describes how the software will support asset reliability, work force productivity, and job safety. Then, create a Long Range Plan which pursues continuous improvement and identifies the shortest path to value.
  3. Select a CMMS which is configurable – The odds are great that you will need to configure your CMMS to support advanced processes, such as adding failure mode to work order, storing results of RCM analysis inside CMMS, and creating the failure analytic. Becoming a reliability leader is a journey which lasts a long time.
  4. Identify the location hierarchy and asset registry – Apply a risk-based, criticality to all assets. Capture asset condition, useful life, replacement cost, install date, manufacturer, warranty expiry data, and nameplate data. Link to operating location and system.
  5. Establish a Reliability Team – Encourage asset management stakeholders to become certified reliability leaders (i.e. CRL by ReliabilityWeb) so they all speak the same language. This team will manage RCA, chronic failures, defect elimination, and review significant feedback. This team will leverage data in the CMMS to manage by exception.
  6. Conduct maintenance needs assessment – This could be a combination of RCM/FMEA analysis, PM optimization, OEM guidelines, and senior staff input. Identify optimum maintenance strategies including condition-based technology and wireless sensors.
  7. Set up job plans and PMs – These should store job instructions (what to do), craft requirements, materials, tools, hazard precautions, and permit requirements. Also, link job plans to PM.
  8. Implement closed-loop processes to support continuous improvement:
    1. Work order feedback – Examples include maintainability, ergonomic issues, design flaws, safety issues, and inadequate PM-job plan instructions or frequency
    2. Defect elimination – Cross functional teams proactively look for defects on critical systems on a regular basis, and make corrections
    3. Root cause analysis (RCA) – Significant events require in depth study to prevent recurrence
    4. Chronic failure analysis – The reliability team runs an asset offender report to identify bad actors and drills down on failure modes
  9. Set up formal planning/scheduling process – Implement a risk-based work prioritization scheme. Apply ranking to both planning and scheduling backlog. Also, develop integrated project tracking which includes a WBS to store budgets, work orders to capture actuals, and schedule activities to capture progress.
  10. Conduct audits and surveys for data and processes – The more advanced a system is, the more likely “things can go wrong” – especially data quality. If the goal is to make data-based decisions by leveraging data in the CMMS, then multiple techniques need to be deployed to ensure data quality, such as:
    1. Train staff not only on software navigation but also business rules and definitions. For example, is it clear what defines an asset? A weekly schedule? Reactive maintenance? Maintenance backlog?
    2. Train operators on identifying failure modes and implement operator driven reliability philosophy.
    3. Train working level on precision maintenance.
    4. Install a CMMS gatekeeper role to perform work order quality grading. Also, apply consistent categorization/prioritization.
    5. Utilize Business Analyst user community surveys. Also, perform process/procedure audits.
    6. Proactive error checks, such as, INPRG work with “old actuals”: time in status report, PM-WOs that have been routinely cancelled/skipped, foundation data missing key attributes, assets with no maintenance strategy, track stockouts, critical spares, and slow-moving inventory.
    7. Encourage staff feedback. Imagine the benefit of on-going feedback by maintainers, operators, and even engineers to continuously refine maintenance strategies. Communication of this type makes the difference between average and best-in-class.
    8. Make it easy to capture/enter missing data elements such as failed component or asset. As far as “ease of use,” strongly consider mobile/handheld solutions.

In Summary

The above 10 steps will move any organization from an implement/operate mode to a utilization/optimization mindset. And with a long rang plan in hand, organizations can take a step-by-step approach and be assured they are on the right path.

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