What mistakes are common with reliability-centered maintenance?

Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) is great for individualizing your maintenance plan to your assets. This sounds simple in concept - simply make a plan for every machine and execute it - but in practice, it's easy to mess up a lot of small factors that create a messy, disorganized maintenance plan.

In fact, while RCM seems simple on its face, there are a huge number of moving parts within any solid reliability-centered maintenance plan that could go wrong. Remember: an RCM plan isn't just one maintenance plan, but the fluid combination of every maintenance plan.

Overfocus on singular strategies
Let's say a facility starts to create an RCM plan and puts most of its energy into developing a preventive maintenance (PM) schedule. That's fine - PM schedules are a necessary part of an RCM plan - but when the facility decides to overfocus their time on PMs, they don't flesh out their strategies for reactive maintenance, condition-based monitoring, and proactive maintenance strategies.

You might say, "Well, preventive maintenance is the most important, so shouldn't they focus their time on that?" While preventive maintenance is an important type of maintenance, a comprehensive reliability-centered maintenance plan needs every single one of its component maintenance plans to be planned out in advance. Otherwise, the other types of maintenance will be performed poorly (if at all).

Lack of training and documentation
Like with any maintenance plan, RCM strategies need good documentation and training to work. If employees aren't given the proper tools, they can't perform their work, so the entire floor of the plan falls out at the start.

This can take a lot of forms:

  • Relying on the " tribal knowledge" of experienced employees
  • Lack of communication between technicians and managers
  • Poor documentation efforts for maintenance procedures

Improper data collection
The data a facility collects is the lifeblood of its improvement efforts because that data signifies where things are going right and where they're going wrong. With that said, if a facility collects false data (or no data at all), they may be implementing maintenance strategies without a clear idea of what needs to be improved.

It's vital to collect accurate, useful data (usually via a CMMS) - this means not fluffing PM figures, tracking equipment downtime, understanding root causes of problems, and assessing schedule compliance.

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