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When Does it Pay to Use Reliability Centered Maintenance

A reliability centered maintenance (RCM) program seeks to offer equal or greater reliability at decreased cost by insuring only applicable, effective maintenance is performed and by in large part replacing time based maintenance with condition based maintenance. The whole idea is you want to achieve more cost‐effective reliability through the implementation of better operations and maintenance practices.

At the facility in question a small team of operations, maintenance and reliability team personnel was formed to undergo am RCM pilot project on one of the facilities manufacturing machines. The team had a very diverse composition and the objective was stated clearly from the beginning. We want to learn the process of how to be better at doing the basics. We opted for a main section of the machine that had experienced many failures over the past 12‐36 months.

Prior to starting we gathered process documents, equipment drawings, process and instrument drawings, equipment history information from the computerized maintenance management system, operator log sheets and the current preventive maintenance (PMs). Once the information was collected the team started on the pilot project.

One of the initial goals of this project was to change the culture of the maintenance and operations groups. This company wanted this to be a joint venture between both groups not a joint adventure. We broke the team up into small groups; some groups were just one person. We review the current data and then came together to review what we discovered. At the start of this pilot project there were 40 current PMs of being conducted every 4 weeks.

After the initial shock and awe of going through the pains of starting a culture change concerning the methodology and mentality of how maintenance is and should be conducted the group in five days identified the following:

  • Of the 40 PMs being conducted 23 current PMs (58%) were found to add no value and were deemed Run‐To‐Failure.
  • The remaining 17 PMs (43%) were re‐written to add specific detail in a visual inspection or measurement to be taken. If any of the inspection alarms were met it would call for immediate action to be taken.
  • The team also identified 26 new PMs (65%) at varying frequencies that needed to be added to the computerized maintenance management system.


After evaluating the results from the Reliability Centered Maintenance process the team also identified a cost saving opportunity; not only from the new and changed PMs but from the frequency identified by reviewing past failures and the equipment history. The team identified that currently on this machine they were conducting a PM shutdown every four weeks for duration of 8 hours. After the new and changed PMs were identified with their new frequency it is estimated that a reduction in scheduled downtime can be reduced by 6 hours every quarter resulting in a reduction of 24 hours in lost production annually on this one machine. The conservative cost savings on this one machine was in the neighborhood of $140,000 a year in gained production, and this is just one machine. In this facility there are over eight machines, doing the math the very conservative estimate is well over one million dollars annually in gained production.

In conclusion, the Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) process may at times be daunting ordeal. Not every system in your facility will meet the criteria for this process. However, if you use the tools of the process and have a good understanding of what right looks like you can form a small team in your organization and tackle projects like this with ease. The thing to remember is take it in small chunks so it easier to get through. You will not get bogged down in the details and you will be able to make the changes necessary to ensure that the preventive maintenance tasks you are asking your personnel to complete ultimately add value to your organization. Implement the changes identified, track your progress, and use key performance indicators to help build your success story.

Find out more about Trico Corp here

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