THE HISTORY OF RELIABILITY CENTERED MAINTENANCE
“The industrial sector is characterized by an ascending dependence on machines. Cutting downtimes is now a necessity. Accordingly, the basic repair of a failure in a corrective perspective has begun to be accompanied with the idea of facing the failure in a predictive perspective”.
The study of our history often shows transitions where a precise need becomes evident and necessary all of a sudden. The concept of “Maintenance”, as indispensable function in a production context, finds its earliest roots concurrently with World War II and its historical developments.
Before the War, production sites were characterized by simple machines, poor mechanization and low dependence on downtimes. Consequently, maintenance was intended as merely failures repair, with a corrective approach.
During the Second World War, the development and consequences of military policies shocked the described reality by introducing production pressure, higher mechanization, more complex machines and a certain degree of machines dependence. Hence, the notion of “Preventive Maintenance” began to spread. It extended further when the attention of production entities started to focus on other peculiarities, such as new quality, security, environmental and production standards.
“The History of Reliability Centered Maintenace commenced when the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began to take an interest in reliability, and therefore to passenger security.”
Following World War II, air transport became more and more frequent and accessible. The FAA became interested in reliability, because they had to guarantee security for an increasingly number of passengers. A Task Force composed of expert engineers was established with the goal of a complete re-evaluation of the maintenance methods applied until that time.
Years of research, significant investments and the analysis of 12 years of data finally brought to an innovative maintenance paradigm. The new maintenance framework was described in a report commissioned to United Airlines from the US Defense Department and published in 1978 by Stan Nowlan and Howard Heap. This report is known as MSG-3 or RCM. During the following years, a growing number of factories began to apply the new method, which is summed up in the RCM2 book: a description of the RCM method, applicable in any industry.
THE GOALS ACHIEVED
Reliability Centered Maintenance: a methodological and analytical approach used to plan and optimize maintenance policies at a corporate level.
RCM can be considered as the result of a series of necessities that production sites had to face since the historical period following Second World War.
Among the main needs we remember:
- – Increased availability and reliability of plants;
- – Higher security;
- – Improved quality of the final product;
- – Absence of environmental issues;
- – Increased life time of assets;
- – Higher cost-efficiency ratio.
A correct application of the RCM method is therefore capable to respond to the abovementioned needs, introducing a significant level of control in the production processes as well.
Environment and Safety
RCM considers implications on security and environment before the effects on production, minimizing the associated risks. RCM is thus able to improve the safety attitude by introducing a special attention to security aspects in the decisional process.
According to RCM, each type of maintenance has an intrinsic value, depending on application. Through decisional diagrams and rules, each situation is characterized by the most suitable type of maintenance. The described process not only fits well to the existing assets (already operating) but is also developed for the new ones (before they enter in service) in order to avoid losses during the early life of the assets.
A correct implementation of RCM involves two main results, namely reducing the cost of maintenance activities and ensuring a longer lifetime of the assets. Costs reduction is the consequence of the minimization of routine works, specifically of maintenance interventions done at regular intervals regardless of assets health conditions. Assets that require this maintenance approach are actually a minority, as shown by the studies that gave life to RCM. Instead, a longer assets lifetime is assured by using on-condition and predictive techniques.
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