Website update in progress! You might be logged out of your account. If this occurs, please log back in.

Website update in progress! You might be logged out of your account. If this occurs, please log back in.

Sign Up

Please use your business email address if applicable

Shedding Light on RCM Facilitation - Answers to Commonly Asked Questions

1. What criteria should we use to select an asset or piece of equipment for RCM analysis?

Selecting the right assets to perform RCM analysis is critical in building and sustaining a first-class effort. While some would argue that Reliability Centered Maintenance should be performed on every asset at your facility, I have always believed that the application of RCM is no different than any other project or improvement effort in that it should deliver a return on investment in a short period of time. Selecting the best assets on which to perform RCM begins with understanding the criticality of the assets at your facility. This requires a quick but formal equipment criticality ranking process. In performing this criticality ranking, you will not only find out where to begin looking for good RCM candidates, but the end product will be a tool with which you can now begin to prioritize and schedule all types of maintenance work.

Once your criticality analysis has been completed, I recommend the use of reliability measures such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), Total Effective Equipment Performance (TEEP) or Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) to then identify the best candidates for RCM analysis. In measuring OEE/TEEP on our critical assets, we can now identify the assets that are suffering equipment-based operational, speed, and quality losses. Equipment that fits these criteria should be considered the best candidates for analysis. For more detailed information on how to measure OEE/TEEP, I would recommend that you read Overall Equipment Effectiveness by Robert Hansen.

The use of MTBF to identify assets for analysis is a formal way to identify and quantify the bad actors at your site at a more detailed level. While OEE and TEEP are ideal ways to measure the reliability of a system or process, MTBF gets down to the equipment level and is good for identifying problem pumps, compressors, motors, or drives that would benefit from the complete maintenance strategy developed through the application of RCM. The key in using MTBF is to measure and record where you started prior to performing the analysis and what you accomplished upon implementing the new strategy.

Fig 1

2. How do you know how long it will take to complete an RCM analysis?

This can be a very difficult question to answer if the person asking the question has no past experience with RCM. My standard answer is a good facilitator with a new RCM team can complete an RCM analysis of 85 to 100 components that covers 120 to 140 failure modes in 5 eight-hour sessions. (Using the RCM BlitzTM format, this would be performed over one week.)

The problem with this answer is that we all have different ideas of what a component is. Therefore, we need to share drawings and parts lists to clarify exactly what the boundaries of the analysis will be and the components that will be covered as part of the analysis. As an example, I recently worked with a client that wanted me to provide an estimate to perform RCM on a compressor system. In my own mind, I envisioned your typical plant air compressor, but to be safe I asked for drawings and a component list for the system. I was shocked when I came to realize that the compressors are nearly the size of a school bus and are driven by a natural gas engine. There are close to 200 removable/repairable components in these compressor systems.

3. Who should we have on our RCM team and what is the ideal team size?

The ideal RCM team consists of one or two equipment operators, two to three skilled tradespeople (ensuring we cover mechanical, electrical, instrument), a process engineer, a PdM technician, and where applicable, an OEM representative. The ideal team size is five to seven people, understanding that having too few will result in missed failure modes and too many results in a challenge for the facilitator to manage the group and maintain the pace required to finish within the estimated time.

Your RCM team should be a team of people who are considered experts in the process or piece of equipment they are about to analyze. These people should be open to change and highly respected among their peers.

4. What are the biggest problems companies face in getting a successful RCM effort started?

Let me first answer this question with the statement that all successful RCM efforts have three things in common: Leadership, Structure, and Discipline. If you're lacking in any one of the three, you could struggle in kicking off a successful effort. This being said, the three most common problems in starting a successful RCM effort come in managing the implementation of the RCM tasks, selecting a good piece of equipment with which to start the effort, and trying to start the effort with a facilitator who has little or no experience.
When it comes to Reliability Centered Maintenance, the analysis is the easy part. The challenge comes when we now have to manage and implement the 150 to 200 tasks that were identified in the analysis. RCM implementation is best managed by assigning one individual as the implementation manager for your RCM tasks. This person will then prioritize and manage the implementation by assigning each task to a specific individual along with a due date that corresponds to the task criticality/ priority (criticality/priority is determined by the probability the failure will occur and the consequence to your business should it occur). Completing the implementation tasks is no different than completing any other planned work or project at your facility. The manager needs to track the assigned tasks and hold people accountable to completing them prior to the assigned due date.

Selecting a good piece of equipment to start your effort was covered under question one, but I will add here the importance in using reliability measures to identify assets, and more importantly, show the results of the implemented strategy.

Fig 2

Second only to failing to implement the RCM tasks is the problem created by trying to begin your RCM effort with a facilitator who has little or no experience in facilitating the process. From a high-level view, the RCM process looks easy. Follow the 7 steps identified in the SAE standard (see Table 1) and within a couple of weeks you should have completed your first RCM analysis. If you're at all worried, read a book or attend a pubic RCM event and you should be good to go.

I wish I could say it was that simple, but the reality is experienced RCM facilitators deliver results. Inexperienced facilitators most often deliver frustration and failure. If you are looking for a successful RCM effort you need to hire an experienced and proven facilitator or spend the time and money required to train a certified facilitator.

Fig 3

5. How long should it take us to implement the tasks from our RCM Analysis?

The time required to implement the resulting tasks is dependent on the resources or people you have available and the number of tasks assigned to each person. The first analysis you complete always sets the benchmark for implementation. In the past I have had two companies take the better part of a year to implement their first RCM (I thought this was excessive, but I'm always happy when a company completes an implementation), and I have had several companies complete their first implementation in three months. The best companies are completing the implementation in three weeks and do this by following our detailed plan for implementation. This plan dedicates individuals to write/implement operator checklists, maintenance PM/PdM procedures, job plans, and an engineer that is assigned to implement any redesigns that require MOC (Management of Change) or small capital. The key to successful implementation is to set realistic goals, communicate the progress on a regular basis, and remain focused on moving forward to complete the implementation phase. The companies who have been the most successful at implementing results each focused on ways to improve the implementation cycle. Creating standard format documents for checklists, job plans, and procedures improved both the quality and cycle of implementation.

6. What should the return on investment be for a good RCM Analysis?

In my opinion, Return-on-Investment should be the primary focus of your RCM effort. In the minds of some, however, the key driver of any RCM effort should be a reduction in Health, Safety, and Environmental incidents and accidents. I see them as common goals provided we can measure and place a dollar figure on the improvement realized by implementing and performing our new maintenance strategy.

The most important thing to remember in regard to the question is the fact that you must first implement the tasks identified by the RCM team to recognize any Return-on-Investment. While identifying and discussing failure modes will certainly improve the knowledge of the RCM team, the benefits of the process end there if we fail to implement. Having stated this, I would offer that, for companies who follow our prescribed methodology of selecting assets and implementing tasks, it is not uncommon to see a Return-on-Investment of 5 to 15 times the cost of training the team, conducting the analysis, and implementing the tasks within a year of completion. Just as important as implementing the tasks is having an agreed plan in place on how we plan to measure the success of the analysis or Returnon- Investment. Typically, I again recommend using OEE/TEEP (Figure 1) along with maintenance savings to quantify the ROI.

7. Should we train our own RCM facilitators or use a consultant?

This might be one of the most difficult questions to answer because depending on the situation and the company, the answer could be different. Keeping this in mind, I have a few general rules on how to make the best decision as well as the risks or downside of each.

If you're planning on training your own facilitator, do your company a big favor and ask the company you have selected to provide the training for some assistance in helping you select the right people. The companies who have a proven record of training successful facilitators should have documented selection criteria. Start by following this criteria and even involving the training company in the interview process. I know for a fact that the chances of a company having a successful effort increase dramatically if I can help them select facilitators.

Insist that your facilitators achieve facilitator certification through mentoring. While the 7-step process may seem simple, facilitation of the process is an art that takes time and experience and this can only be accelerated through a structured mentoring program. Training a facilitator takes both time and money invested wisely by selecting a proven methodology and an instructor with a successful reputation in the business. Always ask to see a resume and a list of references when making this decision.

The biggest risk or downside to training and using your own internal RCM facilitators is that they quite often are given a fair amount of credit for the success of your program and business, and as a result, they are often promoted out of the position or hired away by other companies who are looking to bring on an experienced RCM facilitator. Second to losing your facilitator, the other downside of internal facilitators is the bias they bring to the table in regard to your equipment and culture.

Using a consultant to conduct your analyses is the quickest way to get results. You don't have to wait for he/she to be trained, mentored, and certified; you simply contact a proven facilitator and you are ready to get started. The proven and experienced RCM facilitator brings no bias to the room; they follow the RCM process to the letter, they ask the team questions and lead the process to the best result. The challenge here is that all RCM facilitators are not created equal. If you want your effort to be successful, take some time to research and contact some companies who have had a successful effort or contact providers and ask for references. Some key things to remember in selecting a consultant:

• Experience in facilitating successful RCMs across varied industries is critical - This indicates the facilitator is an expert in the process, not a specific equipment type
• Ask for a resume - An experienced RCM consultant should have a resume that states his experience and successes. I would look for a minimum of two years experience or 12 completed analyses • Always contact references - This is the best way to ensure you are getting a proven leader

The downside of hiring a consultant to facilitate your effort is cost and availability. In the world of RCM, the most successful facilitators cost money and are often scheduled out months in advance. I would advise anyone who is starting an effort to let patience be your guide. The best facilitators deliver results and are worth waiting for.

8. Why can't we use a library of known failure modes to develop our maintenance strategy?

Those of us in the business hear this question all the time. If it's not this question, then it's a similar statement: "A pump is a pump and a motor is a motor. They all have the same failure modes and once you have completed one you can apply that same strategy to every pump in the plant." I used to say good luck, give it a try and call me a year from now and we can discuss why that won't work.

Let me say it again, I used to say that. Time and experience have changed my stance on this, and I now reply there are places where the strategy of common failure modes can be of value. First, however, I want to explain why we need to perform Reliability Centered Maintenance on our critical assets and why each analysis will deliver unique failure modes and unique tasks.

The problem with failure modes lists is twofold; first, the list is basic, covering only the common engineered failure modes for the component. The problem here is the failure modes do not address the most common failures that result from the context and environment in which we operate this equipment. The resulting output from a common engineered failure modes strategy will deliver a partial strategy that will deliver some improvement but fall far short of what would be delivered by addressing the failure modes that result from the context and environment. The second type of failure modes list is all inclusive and covers engineered failure modes as well as failure modes that are highly unlikely to occur, resulting in an overblown and costly maintenance strategy.

Putting this in the most simple of terms, would you expect the same failure modes for a pump that operates in the hot, dry, dusty environment of Southern California as compared to an identical pump in size and manufacture operating in Northern Alaska? The changes in temperature alone could result in very different failure modes. Now consider the fact that not all equipment designs are created equal; a pump with a sound foundation base and supports has an entirely different list of failure modes than one that is bolted to the floor, aligned with a mash hammer, and uses the pump itself as the piping supports.

Critical assets have unique failure modes and result in a unique maintenance strategy. If you want to use a failure modes list that maps tasks to failure modes, these are perfectly acceptable for non-critical assets where we look to quickly upgrade a PM-focused strategy to include applicable and effective PdM tasks.

9. What can we do to make sure we have a successful RCM effort?

The best way to ensure you have a successful effort is to learn all you can about successful RCM efforts prior to starting your own. The more you understand the RCM process (Figure 2), what it takes to select the best assets, perform each analysis and implement the tasks, the better prepared you will be to manage your own effort. I recommend attending a conference where several companies (practitioners, not providers) will present information in regard to how they have applied RCM at their facility. Make a point to sit and talk with these companies and take detailed notes on the things they believe helped make their effort a successful one as well as the obstacles they may have encountered along the way.

Read everything you can get your hands on in regard to RCM, I would (of course!) recommend my book Reliability Centered Maintenance - Using the RCM BlitzTM as well as Gateway to RCM by Mac Smith. ReliabilityWeb. com and Uptime magazine also have an abundance of articles that can help you to better understand and manage a successful effort.

Along with this I would be remiss if I did not say the best way to a successful RCM effort is to follow the proven process. Much has been written through the years and still today about how RCM works, and why the process has been so successful for so many companies around the world, yet I can still find articles and examples from those who believe the process is excessive or over done. The 7-step RCM process has been proven to provide the most effective maintenance strategy to ensure the inherent designed reliability of your equipment. If you're looking for something less, simply save yourself some time and eliminate a few of the 7 steps. I also tell people who are considering skipping some steps to give me a call and ask what the potential consequences are. I will be happy to tell you because in the past 15 years I have had several facilitators in training make these same foolish mistakes.

Fig 4

10. What should we expect from an experienced RCM facilitator?

I recently had two separate customers share with me stories about hiring people/consultants who claimed to be "RCM Experts." In both cases their "expert" turned out to have very little experience actually facilitating an RCM analysis. One had attended an RCM public offering, recorded their analysis in MS Excel, and worked with their RCM team 1 day a week for 14 weeks. In the end, the team delivered a PM-focused maintenance strategy because their facilitator told them that they were "not ready for PdM and it would cost too much for them to get started.

There were a lot of red flags within the 14 weeks that they worked on this project, but the pressing questions were not asked until after the team presented their new maintenance strategy. Following this disappointment they did a little homework and found out their experienced facilitator could not provide a single reference in regard to his RCM experience other than his 3-day course certificate.

Company number two was slightly more aggressive in making the discovery that their newly hired RCM expert had little to no experience facilitating the RCM process. It turns out that company number two has a few certified CMRPs and one happened to attend the RCM team training that was being put on by their newly hired consultant. After a few pressing questions it turned out that Mr. RCM Expert was a new hire and had yet to attend formal RCM training and had never even sat in on a single RCM analysis!

My expectations of an experienced RCM facilitator is the person should at a minimum have proof that they attended RCM facilitator training and achieved certification as a facilitator through a formal mentoring process. They should be able to show proof of this certification including contact information and a reference from the practitioner who mentored them through certification. If you're hiring a facilitator, they should have the capabilities to not only facilitate the RCM analysis, but also be able to train your RCM team, provide managers with overview training, and offer assistance in managing each step of the RCM process, from selecting assets to completing implementation.

The only problem associated with selecting an experienced RCM facilitator is that the world has no set standard for what qualifies one as an experienced facilitator. In today's world you can read a book, develop a simple spreadsheet in Excel use your brother-in-law Joe as a reference and call yourself a world-class experienced RCM facilitator. It's up to you to do yourself and your company a big favor by carefully researching and verifying the credentials of your facilitator/consultant.

Douglas Plucknette is the creator of the RCM BlitzTM method, author of the book Reliability Centered Maintenance - Using RCM BlitzTM and the RCM Discipline Leader for GPAllied. Well-known on the conference and lecture circuit Doug has over 30 years experience in the field of maintenance and reliability. Over the past 15 years, Doug has facilitated hundreds of RCM analyses and trained and certified many companies around the world in RCM BlitzTM.

ChatGPT with
Find Your Answers Fast