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What is Reliability Centered Maintenance? (RCM)

Reliability centered maintenance (RCM) is a tool used to identify potential problems and designed to optimize maintenance programs.

RCM is a process used to improve the maintenance tasks in an efficient manner, cost-effective, reliable and safe strategy.

Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) requires a complete mindset shift from the traditional maintenance management approach of doing PM (preventive maintenance) to everything, everywhere in the hope of preventing all failures.

Reliability Centered Maintenance

Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM)
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RCM is a systematic process to determine what must be done to keep assets doing.

What operators need them to do in their current operational context.

The RCM process requires a multidisciplinary team to answer the below few questions about the asset being assessed:


What are the functions and associated desired standards of performance of the asset in its present operating context?.

In other words, what do operations want the asset to do versus what the asset can do at its peak performance level?

Functional Failures

In what ways can it fail to fulfill its functions?

We need to define which failures to perform the defined functions are relevant and worthy of in-depth analysis.

Failure Modes

What causes each functional failure?.

We brainstorm on all possible failure events and their causes.

Failure Effects

What happens when each failure occurs?.

We must determine each “failure”s impact by describing the sequence of events happening when each failure mode occurs.

Failure Outcomes

In what way does each failure matter?.

How is safety, environment, production, or maintenance cost impacted?.

Was the failure a result of a faulty protection device?

  • Proactive tasks and task intervals: What action is needed to predict or prevent each failure?.

We must determine whether any form of proactive maintenance, that is, what condition or time base tasks, can be applied to avoid each failure.

  • Default actions: What should be done if a suitable proactive task cannot be found?.

In the case that proactive tasks are not technically or economically viable, the team has to determine the most appropriate course of action for failure management.

At this stage, we must decide whether we can let the failure happen or whether redesign or some other one-time change is needed to avoid the failure or its consequences.

RCM is a process, that is also capable of delivering many other benefits as well as just improving reliability.

RCM Analysis and Implementation of Changes

Based on the results of RCM analysis, start to implement changes by

  1. Reactive maintenance
  2. Preventive maintenance
  3. Predictive maintenance

Reactive Maintenance

It is a process of normalizing the equipment as it fails. This type of maintenance tends to be the most costly, but never avoidable.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is performed while the equipment is still in working condition to avoid unexpected breakdowns.

Predictive Maintenance

Determine the condition of the equipment while it is in use through software and hardware designed to measure functionality or abnormalities also called “ condition monitoring”.

The returns are gained by knowing the exact way when the services are needed.

Advantages of RCM

The following are the advantages of Reliability Centered Maintenance:

Improves the equipment availability.

Reduces maintenance costs.

Reduces resource costs.

Disadvantages of RCM

RCM does not put into account costs related to the maintenance of an asset.


RCM is recognized as one of the most powerful tools a company can use to obtain more value from its physical assets.

It is the cornerstone of highly successful maintenance programs to ensure that machines help operations to deliver as required, yielding or exceeding the anticipated financial outcome required by stakeholders.

It is a means to optimize reliability and maintainability performance to achieve greater uptime.

Reference: Reliability Centered Maintenance by John Moubray

Author: R.Jagan Mohan Rao

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What is Reliability Centered Maintenance? (RCM)

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