What is RCM
Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) analysis provides a structured framework for analyzing the functions and potential failure modes for a physical asset (such as complex processes, manufacturing production line, Turbines. etc.) in order to develop a scheduled maintenance plan that will provide an acceptable level of operability, with an acceptable level of risk, in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Reliability-centered Maintenance is a process used to determine – systematically and scientifically – what must be done to ensure that physical assets continue to do what their users want them to do. Widely recognized by maintenance professionals as the most cost-effective way to develop world-class maintenance strategies, RCM leads to rapid, sustained and substantial improvements in plant availability and reliability, product quality, safety and environmental integrity.
John Moubray, BSc (Mech Eng), spent his early career developing and implementing maintenance management systems, first as a plant engineer then as a consultant. In the early 1980s, he began to focus on the industrial application of RCM under the guidance of the late F Stanley Nowlan. In 1986, he set up Aladon Ltd, a consulting and training company based in Lutterworth, UK.
The Challenges of RCM
More organizations have failed trying to implement RCM’s than have succeeded. Typical the problem stems from a few issues; inexperience facilitator, management expectations, RCM subject matter experts (SMEs) insisting on doing a full failure mode analysis on non-critical ancillary parts. This leads to a resource heavy process that takes weeks not days making the process very time consuming and expensive with little return on investment.
What is FMEA
Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) is a qualitative and systematic tool, usually created within a spreadsheet, to help practitioners anticipate what might go wrong with a product or process. In addition to identifying how a product or process might fail and the effects of that failure, FMEA also helps find the possible causes of failures and the likelihood of failures being detected before occurrence.
Used across many industries, FMEA is one of the best ways of analyzing potential reliability problems early in the development cycle, making it easier for manufacturers to take quick action and mitigate failure. The ability to anticipate issues early allows practitioners to design out failures and design in reliable, safe and customer-pleasing features.
One of the first steps to take when completing an FMEA is to determine who the participants should be. The right people with the right experience, such as process owners, equipment owners, SME’s, etc. should be involved in the process to identify and capture the failure modes.
The Challenges of FMEA
For each component, the failure modes and their resulting effects on the rest of the system are recorded in a specific FMEA worksheet. There are numerous variations of such worksheets. An FMEA can be a qualitative analysis, but may be put on a quantitative basis when mathematical failure rate models are combined with a statistical failure mode ratio database.
The process is sound but can break down if the participants don’t understand the objectives of the process. The process is more effective when an operating context is written in advance of performing and all participants have an understanding what the asset function is in the process. Like the RCM process the facilitator plays a critical role in the success of the analysis.