figure 1

To a lot of people, the fact that over 1,200 failure modes were analyzed and over 1,600 tasks were implemented in less than 11 months would sound impressive and, based on an industry survey conducted in 2005 by and Jack Nicholas Jr., these results would seem impossible.

According to the survey of more than 250 companies, over 85% of the reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) analyses completed are never implemented. As we all know, if your RCM tasks are not implemented, your company will never see any results from the time and money invested in performing the analysis.

I found the reasons/excuses for not completing the RCM tasks to be somewhat amusing. After all, the job of a good RCM facilitator is to uncover failure modes (Why did we fail?) and to then develop tasks to mitigate each failure (How can we prevent these failures?). This list of reasons included:

  • We didn't have enough resources to implement.
  • We ran out of funding.
  • Management did not support the effort.
  • It was too difficult.

Before I get into the details of what it really takes to implement an RCM analysis, look again at the four bullets listed above and think of your own company. If this was your company and someone came to you and said we were unable to implement our RCM tasks for any of these reasons, wouldn't you ask that person why?

  • Why didn't we have enough resources or funding?
  • Why didn't our management support the effort?
  • Why was it so difficult?

The principles of tools, such as RCM and root cause analysis (RCA) that deal with understanding the relationship between cause and effect and mitigating failure effects, can be applied to any type of failure including the cause or causes of why your RCM effort failed!

The task of implementing the results of your RCM analysis can be somewhat overwhelming for some. I find it is a bit easier to digest if I share with my customers some facts I have gathered over the years regarding RCM Blitz implementation. While some companies have labeled RCM as a "resource consuming monster," the information we share, which comes directly from our customers, clearly indicates that with some good planning up front, implementing your RCM tasks is not at all difficult, nor should it consume an overwhelming amount of resources.

For companies who are just beginning their RCM effort with a newly-trained team, one should expect the following with regards to analyzing and implementing RCM tasks:

  1. A new team should be able to complete an RCM analysis of 85 to 100 components, assessing 120 to 140 failure modes, in five days.
  2. This analysis should produce 140 to 160 mitigating tasks and, as part of your implementation plan, each task should be assigned to a specific individual, along with a due date.
  3. One person should be named the RCM implementation manager, with the responsibility of assigning, tracking and reporting the progress of your implementation effort.
  4. Expect your first several RCM implementations to require 100 to 120 labor hours to complete.
  5. The companies who have been the most successful at implementing analysis tasks dedicate:
  • 1 person to write PMs and job plans;
  • 1 person to write operator checklists; and
  • 1 person to manage redesigns.

Looking at the above listed items, do any of these things seem overwhelming, unmanageable or impossible?

The key to successful RCM implementation begins in the planning stages of the process. Using our R5 process (Figure 1), which lists the key steps to completing an RCM analysis, resources for performing the analysis and completing the tasks should be identified in the Rationalize phase of the process. Quite simply, if you do not dedicate the resources required to implement the tasks before you start your analysis, do not expect money or people to magically appear and volunteer to help on the day your analysis is completed.

The Ratify phase is where you build a team you can rely on. It is here where a contract is developed that identifies the resources by name and the time required to complete both the analysis and task implementation. The roster of a successful RCM effort often mirrors that of a championship team, a list of seasoned experts each having the reputation for follow through and results.

While successful implementation begins with planning in the Rationalize phase, it is executed and verified in the Realize phase. As we assign and begin to perform the tasks identified in the analysis, it is extremely important to communicate both the progress of the implementation and the results that have come from performing the new maintenance strategy. Communication from the RCM implementation manager in this phase of the process is crucial. Without a weekly progress report, the people who participated on the team and the managers who sponsored the effort will assume nothing is being done, when in fact, your implementation may be nearly complete.

One of the reasons I made a career out of RCM was a strong belief in the process. I have always been confident in the results RCM can deliver IF IT IS IMPLEMENTED! To this day, nothing bothers me more than to hear someone say they tried RCM and it didn't work. Immediately following this statement, the excuses previously listed start and I wait for a pause. It is at this moment I make the statement, "We have been tracking our RCM implementations after we refocused our model to include the entire RCM cycle; our customers now complete the implementation for over 85% of the analyses performed each year." For those RCM analyses that were fully implemented, every single one has provided a return on investment.

The remaining RCMs that were not implemented could still provide the same benefits, however today they sit on a shelf and wait for a leader.

authorDoug Plucknette is the Worldwide RCM Discipline leader for GPAllied, creator of the RCM Blitz Methodology, author of the book Reliability Centered Maintenance using the RCM Blitz Method, and Co-Author of the book Clean, Green & Reliable.

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