The advancing technological landscape has been changing the face of the industry and its processes and work orders, and the manufacturing companies have been facing challenges for achieving reliability due to decreasing maintenance costs and downtime in the course of high-quality goods production and gaining profits. Reliability maintenance improves machine reliability and helps in achieving these goals.

With a correct design and implementation, the reliability programs offer a comprehensive data-driven solution for improving machine reliability tailored to meet the manufacturing company’s needs. The reliability programs not only include the machines to be monitored but also the people, processes, and technologies dealing with its implementation and management. A strong reliability program demands regular auditing. As the scheduled maintenance changes over time due to changing equipment, maintenance personnel, and supplier changes. Regular auditing highlights the new inefficiencies and opportunities for improvements, aiding the organization to reduce maintenance costs and gain a positive return on investment.

In this post, we will discuss reliability-centered maintenance that includes the technologies utilized i.e., the detected faults, the PF curve, the pitfalls in the application, and usage. Let us first learn what reliability-centered maintenance is.

What is Reliability Centered Maintenance?

Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) process is a customized organizational maintenance strategy determined through the potential failure modes analysis and their system performance impact. It encompasses predictive, preventive, and reactive maintenance and fault or hidden or latent failure modes detection. A cause and effect study with the possibility and each process failure outcome, the condition-based maintenance tasks are prioritized cost-effectively in terms of safety, security, and the significance of every asset to the overall operation.

The RCM maintenance principles include understanding the cause of failure. The core aim is to preserve the system’s functionality with potential failure modes determination and weighing the causes and consequences of each. With this, it becomes easy to prioritize and categorize equipment failures and assign the respective maintenance tasks. Failure is an unsatisfactory condition from slight performance degradation to total loss of function.

In RCM, a piece of equipment and system operation is above individual component functions. Balancing risk factors such as usage against maintenance costs are also considered to avoid costly protocols assigned to low-value assets.

Once safety and security are ensured, cost-benefit strategies can reduce the discretionary maintenance expenses. Reliability-centered maintenance acknowledges feedback by identifying design limitations through maintenance history to improve the design and predict asset management, maintenance, and lifecycle. RCM demands a consistent focus on the maintenance tasks’ applicability to failure modes and the efficacy of these tasks in reducing the probability of failure.

In the subsequent sections, we will discuss the principles of implementation of RCM and what are the criteria for its assessment to be taken into consideration in the organizations.

The Three Basic Principles of Reliability Centered Maintenance Implementation

Implementing reliability-centered maintenance involves three phases as described below:

Phase 1: Decision

The decision phase of RCM implementation involves avoiding wasting time in justifying and planning RCM implementation. In this phase, a thorough discussion on the readiness, needs, and outcomes with the maintenance staff, project managers, subject-matter experts, and executives is discussed. This phase is exquisitely for outlining in line goals with the budget, timeline, and management.

When choosing the RCM analysis equipment, the most critical aspects of operations are considered such as the repair vs. replacement cost and cost incurred in the past maintenance and the following criteria must be considered:

  • Machine failure for detecting normal maintenance or operation
  • Safety consideration when the machine has failed
  • Impact on operations during machine failure
  • Impacts on spending

The machine’s functionality figures help the team decide the machine capacity at which it will run compared to its actual performance.

Phase 2: Analysis

After identifying the functional failures, which include poor performance, performing unnecessary functions, or complete failure. The next step is to identify and evaluate the effects of the failure, what happens during failure, its effect on overall production and safety.

The last step is failure modes identification and causes of each failure. The failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA) is the popular technique to uncover these causes. It breaks down the possible failures in the design, manufacturing, or assembly as well as on a product or service on how it is affecting safety, impacting overall operation and production, and causing outages.

FMEA identifies the root causes, failure modes, indicators, criticalities, probabilities, and effects by considering asset history and employee experiences. FMEA analysis programs use the gathered information to drive the mitigation tasks planning to detect failures early and prevent them.

Phase 3: Act

The act phase comes after the planning, making decisions, and analyzing, where the analyzed information for updating your maintenance tasks and asset design improvement is acted upon. The failure management techniques are grouped into two: proactive tasks and default actions.

  1. Proactive Tasks: Includes preventive and predictive maintenance software techniques preventing failures scheduled in advance, helping reduce the risk of failure before they begin.
  2. Default Actions: Refer reactive maintenance when the machine is allowed to run until it fails and then the issue is fixed.

The technique determination depends on the RCM analysis and understanding the failure modes’ effects on your assets and its impact on production.

RCM Assessment Criteria

RCM was first coined by the aviation industry, and many organizations have adopted the minimum criteria for RCM processes that incorporate the following seven criteria: 

a. System Functions Identification – Item purpose and its associated performance standards

The primary system functions are concerned with how the equipment operates to meet customer needs. Another part concerns how the secondary system functions to meet business goals being compliant with environmental and government regulations. 

b. Failure Modes Identification – Failure in providing the necessary functions

As the industry operations run 24-7, the inherent equipment fatigue causes traditional failure modes as assets tend to deteriorate. Another failure mode is done by operating in unfavorable environmental conditions resulting in damages due to corrosion. Other failure modes such as human error, flaws in the design, or manufacturing flaws are also considered.

c. Failure Causes Identification – The events causing each failure

After identifying all the failure modes, the next step is to identify the root causes of those failures caused during the analysis phase of an RCM program.

d. Effects of Failure Identification –What after a failure has occurred?

This includes how the failure affects the quality and production of products, the operating and capital costs. To mitigate this, loss of production, unplanned shutdowns, and high equipment repair costs must be taken into account.

e. Failure Consequences Identification – How does each failure matter?

Includes how a failure mode poses a threat to the operators or the environment safety, how it affects production and operational processes, and the physical equipment condition.

f. Preventative Tasks Determination: Task performed to prevent, or diminish the consequence of the failure

As per the criticality and facility needs, the maintenance and inspection tasks are employed. The ultimate goal is to decide on the most effective maintenance tasks and to schedule the frequency of these tasks.

g. Alternatives Identification: What if a suitable preventive task is not found?

The RCM team may need to replace or redesign the unit if the current maintenance tasks cannot preserve the equipment’s reliability and function. If the system is functioning close to the end of its operational life, its asset redesign or modification is not needed. The team should schedule when the unit is decommissioned and replaced. However, if the equipment unexpectedly fails in the early lifecycle, the engineers need to make modifications suitable to meet the facility’s needs.


Reliability-centered maintenance that deals with a comprehensive reliability-centered approach for maintaining the health of the machine assets in the organization, increasing production, and decreasing maintenance costs at the same time. With this article, we have tried to explain the significance of RCM experienced in the organization and the criteria of assessment and implementation principles in the organization.