What is Reliability Centered Maintenance?

Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM)was created to ensure a system continually works to the best of its ability in several different areas. RCM focuses on establishing the safe, minimum levels of maintenance. If implemented correctly, this should lead to increased reliability and uptime of machinery, cost-effectiveness, and a better understanding of the safety and risk involved in maintenance.

RCM is a complete approach to maintenance, viewing it as the primary way to ensure a piece of machinery is working at its best. This is done by a specific procedure which assesses the machine critically, and then plans for appropriate and scheduled maintenance tasks. The RCM steps are then applied and kept under review, with changes made if needed, based on regular assessments.

RCM Process

When beginning to apply RCM, there are set questions which need to be addressed:

  1. What are the item’s functions? (both primary and secondary)
  2. How could it fail to do said functions?
  3. What causes failure?
  4. What happens during a failure? (i.e. is it a full failure of the machine not doing its primary function, or just a slowing down of that function)
  5. Does the failure matter, and to what degree?
  6. What can be done to prevent the failure?
  7. What must be done if failure prevention is not successful?

RCM is often used to ensure cost-effectiveness in a machine, as well as to measure how critical a failure of a machine is. That means if one part of a machine fails, but that part is not critical, it is allowed to fail. The main functions of the machine receive priority, and are preserved as much as possible to help ensure it completes its primary role at all times.