Next Generation Dynamic Reliability Centered Maintenance

"How effective is your maintenance strategy?" is a question that is often asked to engineers, and one that is often very difficult to answer with any degree of certainty. If you are serious about your bottom line then you need to be absolutely sure that your maintenance strategy is promoting operational efficiency. Today, technology advancements make this possible, resulting in strategies that engender a very real and positive impact on asset reliability and availability and overall organizational success. What lies behind these capabilities is the evolution of closed loop reliability centered maintenance (RCM).

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“How effective is your maintenance strategy?” is a question that is often asked to engineers, and one that is often very difficult to answer with any degree of certainty. If you have essentially relied on your experience or intuition when trying to determine the most cost effective and risk adverse maintenance strategy for your assets then you’ll know that wrong decisions can be very costly.

If you are serious about your bottom line then you need to be absolutely sure that your maintenance strategy is promoting operational efficiency.  Today, technology advancements make this possible, resulting in strategies that engender a very real and positive impact on asset reliability and availability and overall organizational success.

What lies behind these capabilities is the evolution of closed loop reliability centered maintenance (RCM).

Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) has long been used as a tool to assist the development of maintenance strategies for key operational assets. But until recent years, the only RCM solutions available have remained specialized PC-based systems that assisted in the design of maintenance strategies in isolation from other business systems. Over the years, this structured approach to RCM has rewarded organizations with significant benefits in asset reliability and increased safety, but it has also been hampered by certain limitations. By nature of its isolation, RCM has never achieved its true potential.

The emergence of dynamic Reliability Centered Maintenance (DRCM) offers all the benefits of traditional RCM, but also the advantages of complete collaboration with other critical information systems (such as production controls and maintenance management) and especially the key operational assets themselves. The key differentiator is DRCM’s capability for full integration into those operational assets and their control systems.

Integration: The Heart of Next Generation Dynamic RCM

This integration is what maximizes a company’s ability to achieve full transparency of asset information—and enables real-time collaboration and simulation capabilities that give engineers a far more accurate picture of equipment requirements and maintenance outcomes.

A maintenance strategy is incomplete unless it can be “hardwired” to become an integral part of critical operational processes. Otherwise it will likely not achieve its optimal results. A maintenance strategy working in isolation is not capable of reacting quickly enough to the dynamic environment where the asset exists—meaning that even the best thought-through strategy will always be outdated.

In short, integrating DRCM within an organization can enable benefits such as:

  • Proactive identification of asset performance issues. A DRCM system is able to identify failures that should have been prevented by the maintenance strategy— failures that are then proactively flagged and a message automatically dispatched to the responsible manager informing him/her that the problem has occurred.
  • Reduced resource waste and analysis errors. Avoids the long and tedious task traditionally performed by maintenance people of manually reviewing histories and assessing any failures, thus also reducing the potential for missing those failures, which can impact business productivity.
  • More effective reviews of asset care strategies. Automated alerts are often the prompts to reviewing an existing maintenance strategy, helping managers quickly identify where a strategy for a piece of equipment may need to be rethought. Only by ensuring seamless connectivity is it realistically possible to put the vast amount of information available across a business to real use. Once properly implemented, DRCM basically extends asset care to all stakeholders within an
    organization and provides the basis for optimizing life cycle costs.

Simulating Potential Outcomes


Expanding further on the concept of DRCM, vendors such as Lawson have built solutions that empower engineers with advanced simulation capabilities to better support more definitive cost and risk analyses of maintenance needs. Such capabilities are being achieved through advancements in integration that enable DRCM solutions to work collaboratively with systems such as service requirements planning (SRP) engines. This provides engineers with the means to simulate and forecast maintenance outcomes with a greater degree of certainty than ever before.

This technology can be very useful, for example, when determining whether the cost of “failure prevention” ultimately outweighs the cost of a “run-to-fail” approach for a piece of production equipment. The simulations can help illustrate where preventive maintenance practices might be more or less expensive than the actual cost of failure. To put it into context, we change the oil in our cars every 6,000 miles or so in the expectation that this will stop the engine from failing prematurely. But the cost of changing it more frequently could ultimately outweigh the expense of failure and repair, or perhaps even increase the chance of failure. In the past, no one solution could ever provide this level of real-time simulation capability. It’s an invaluable step in the process of developing a case for an effective asset maintenance strategy.

Can You Afford Not to Integrate?

In addition to considering the benefits of DRCM, businesses also need to consider the long-term issues that could result if they sit on the sidelines. Competitive business environments call for maximum productivity, customer service and profitability. For businesses facing such pressures, the dangers of not extending RCM capabilities could mean for instance:

  • Limited visibility of asset issues. Maintenance systems working in isolation mean that managers are in danger of operating almost blindly and not noting issues in a timely enough way to prevent more significant problems for the business.
  • Increased risk of asset downtime. If a maintenance strategy is not working properly or effectively enough—even in some areas—then a business is increasing the risk of downtime and wasting the original maintenance investment.
  • Resource waste. Operating in isolation means that a business could be carrying out schedules that are not necessary or not having the desired effect, thus wasting valuable engineer time and money, as well as risking unnecessary production losses.
  • Limited analysis. Integration limitations of traditional RCM systems make it difficult for engineers to access information and carry out the level of accurate analysis needed to fully review, verify and, where necessary, rethink maintenance strategies.

The reiterative message here is integration across the business. There is little point in moving towards dynamic RCM unless a business’s maintenance platform is seamlessly connected to the rest of the organization’s information systems. Many businesses today are embracing open technology platforms such as MIMOSA (Machinery Information Management Open Systems Alliance) that allow them to build links across their wide range of operational assets without being limited to equipment vendors complying with particular standards. Providing that the right criteria are met, the benefits of this evolutionary approach to RCM are significant for businesses across all industries.

Why Opt for Integrated Dynamic RCM?

  • Offers all benefits of traditional RCM, but fully integrated into all business processes
  • Extends asset care to all stakeholders, not just the maintenance department
  • Enables greater certainties in risk and cost evaluation of maintenance strategies
  • Brings the maintenance strategy into real time
  • Focuses vital and limited maintenance skills to the right place

Click here to download a PDF version of this Insight Paper http://www.lawson.com/WCW.nsf/pub/eam_C118A7

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