Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) document from the 1970s maintains its value

Most assets depreciate over time. Sometimes, they fail. Often, at an inopportune time.

Then there is the asset whose value increases. Why, just this past weekend, a Wayne Gretzky rookie card, in mint condition, became the most valuable modern trading card in existence, when it sold at auction for more than $94,000. Certainly it is a testament to the impact a bit of preventive care can have.

Still other assets retain a relatively constant value over time. Such an example is the hard-to-find work on preventive maintenance written in the late 1970s by Authors F. Stanley Nowlan and Howard F. Heap, who prepared their treatise on reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) for United Airlines.

One of our sister titles, Chemical Processing (, has added this landmark, 520-page document, broken up into multiple sections available for download, to its site at

The sections include RCM Theory and Principles, Applications, and Appendices. The original type-written pages have been scanned and saved as PDF files, providing background information for developing and managing preventive maintenance programs. These RCM programs are designed to develop inherent safety and reliability capabilities.

The document also explains the nature of failure, as well as RCM analysis of systems, power plants and structures.

Scheduled maintenance includes four types of tasks. Mechanics can be asked to inspect an item to detect a potential failure, rework an item before a maximum permissible age is exceeded, discard an item before maximum permissible age is exceeded, or inspect an item to find failures that have already occurred but were not evident to the equipment operating crew.

The information in these PDF files on RCM addresses how to determine which maintenance tasks should be scheduled and how frequently. Michael Eisenbise, global reliability implementation specialist for BP Downstream and past chairman of the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (, is largely responsible for separating the document into three manageable sections to make it easier to download. Still, each PDF file is relatively large, so do not be discourage if the download takes more than 30 seconds.