Myths of RCM: It's only for critical lassets...

There are a range of unsubstantiated myths floating around the maintenance discipline relating to RCM. I will try to address some of them in these pages at one time or another, but today I really want to look in detail at one of the most insidious of them.

Myth: RCM is only for Critical Assets

My feelings on criticality are clear. Many of us apply it without thinking it through. We think that "everybody does this, so it must be right". Yet the facts speak for themselves.

I am not going to re-hash the entire argument here, but for most industries, in summary the following points are very true for most non-infrastructure type industries.

(Meaning process/discrete manufacturing, mining, mineral processing, and transport mainly)

Starting a project on critical assets, as opposed to worst performing assets, is often fatal for the long term implementation and embedding of the method. Not to mention the missed opportunity for adding value by the company that is planning to implement RCM. (Enuff said, lets leave that one alone for now) 

Given that there is no unified definition of criticality, nor of how to go about it. The methods used vary wildly. SOme focus only on primary function criticality, others tend to focus only on impact to operations, and none focus on the failure mode level of all functions and reasonably likely failure modes. (And if they did then it would be a vast waste of time, but I digress) 

John Moubray was very fond of saying that you should get a reduction of 20% - 70% of routine maintenance where there is a scheduled maintenance program in place. 

Right now most industries that need to manage physical assets find themselves in sudden dire need to reduce costs. So if you have taken the company down a path of only focusing on the (say) 20% of critical assets that you have - you are not going to optimize the failure management strategies of 80% of the asset base!

In what world does that logic make sense? We retreat back to our corners, we take up long held beliefs and we refuse to see the facts before our faces.

Standard compliant RCM is more important now, in times of cost pressure, than at any time previously. We need to not only make sure we are productive without waste with the production that we do, but we need to make sure that we are achieving a maximum level of cost effectiveness.

This is usually met with the age old question - so where do you think we should apply RCM then? To everything!

Sure, if you want. You apply RCM where ever there is a benefit. Where ever it makes sense to apply it. Where ever there is a benefit in one of the four areas of the Value Quadrant, a benefit that the company wants to have, and a benefit that is big enough to justify the effort required.

That's it. it is truly that simple. So which assets are those? Well, it's not really for me to tell you - but I (or others like me) can help you to get the skills and abilities to be able to work it out. 

(Good luck, times are tough out there - especially thinking of the 14,000 people who are about to be laid off from Rio Tinto. I wish you the best of fortune.)