Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) is a proven, logical, sensible approach that helps companies improve reliability. Yet most companies are not getting the return they expected. They see RCM as too much trouble for too little reward.
So that’s why we decided to publish this new report. Find out why RCM doesn’t work, what needs to change and how to put RCM to work at your company so it doesn’t become another Resource Consuming Monster.
Nowlan and Howard Heap published “Reliability Centered Maintenance”, the ground-breaking study that changed maintenance forever. Yet myth, mystery and confusion about RCM still abound.
So let’s begin with the basic truths. To paraphrase RCM practitioner, Doug Plucknette, of GPAllied, RCM is a structured process developed to ensure the designed safety and reliability capabilities of a process or piece of equipment. The beauty of understanding the RCM process is it can be applied to virtually any physical asset in any plant around the world.
RCM’s roots go back to the early 1960’s, when the commercial airline companies were considering buying the new jumbo jet, the Boeing 747. At the time, the airlines religiously practiced time-based preventive maintenance. Why? Because the conventional wisdom was that equipment wears out over time. So that meant taking planes out of service for maintenance every 1,000, 5,000 or 10,000 hours.
But the problem with the 747’s was the amount of maintenance specified by federal regulators was three times more than the maintenance required for Boeing 707’s. That meant more time in maintenance, more time out of service, and a huge disruption to operations.
Clearly, the airlines’ traditional approach to maintenance would not be economically feasible for the new jumbo jets.
So the airlines had two choices: Either buy a larger fleet of planes or develop a more economical approach to maintenance.
That’s why United Airlines led a task force to re-evaluate the concept of preventive maintenance and determine the most economic strategy, without compromising safety. The result was the process that we now know as RCM, which was successfully employed on the 747 and all subsequent jet aircraft.