Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Managing the depth of RCM

RCM stands for Reliability Centred Maintenance. It is a process whereby a series of questions are structurally raised to conclude a maintenance requirement. It can be as tedious as a full blown RCM where you are moving on average about 3-4 Failure Modes an hour in a RCM workshop to a quick straight forward 30-50 Failure Modes an hour in a peer review workshop.

How deep to go for the RCM analysis? There're a few things to consider when making this call.

  1. How skilled are your maintenance team in addressing the Failure Modes? There is no point going into too detail if your trades does not share the understanding and knowledge. For example, carrying out vibration analysis on an equipment without a skilled person is useless. No one will be able to interpret the data and put it to good use. Your strategy would then have to be fine tuned to fixed-time replacement on an optimized shutdown interval.
  2. How critical is the equipment? The more critical it is, the more time should be invested towards making it performing reliably.
  3. What is the current state of the maintenance strategy? Is it running reliably? If it is, are we seeing potential Failure Modes that we are not addressing? A peer review to close the gap in the strategy is sufficient in this case. If the equipment is not reliable to start with, it may require a full blown RCM from scratch.
  4. There will be times where you run into a highly critical equipment but yet the Failure Modes are highly unlikely. The facilitator or reliability engineer would have to make the call whether a full blown RCM is worthwhile or manage the risk with a peer review process to ensure all gaps in strategies are covered. This require local plant experience that none of your external consultants have. Re-emphasize, invest in your reliability team!
  5. ???

A note to reliability managers out there, if a person pitch you they can deliver RCM workshop at 15 Failure Modes an hour, be very wary about it. You get what you pay for. Quality takes time and it is inevitable in RCM! Again, your best value is through having invest in a very good reliability engineer on your side. After all, the RCM databases will still require maintenance and update in-house, unless you are ready to pay the continual work from the consultancy.

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