Failure Management

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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As physical assets and systems of assets grow increasingly more complex, failure management becomes more and more important to businesses. Over the last 20 years, the amount of resources spent on maintenance, including money, manpower, and time, has increased dramatically, and it continues to increase at a rapid pace every year. It has also become increasingly clear that old, generalized maintenance strategies have become outmoded and that new, more sophisticated maintenance strategies must be developed.

The first major industry to take action against outdated maintenance practices was the commercial aviation industry. In the mid-1970s, representatives from airplane manufacturers, the major airlines, and the FAA set about devising a new system of maintenance. The maintenance strategy development process they developed (now called MSG3) became known as Reliability centred maintenance (RCM). RCM has continued to be used primarily in the military and industrial applications outside civil aviation.

The Maintenance Steering Group Task Force realized that generalized preventive and condition based maintenance was ineffective for physical asset systems as large as airplanes and fleets of airplanes in different operating contexts. What resulted was a method of identifying the risks to all aspects of the business and the possible consequences that asset failure may have on those risks. The MSG process accomplished this by targeting the negative consequences of failure modes instead of the physical failures themselves.

RCM Failure Management Techniques

This method of failure management proved successful for the airlines, and has been translated into operational failure management systems for all major industries. Some techniques used in RCM include methods for managing failures without adequate hard data, and developing maintenance programs using multiple methods of maintenance that are specifically tailored to the asset in question. Though the process of implementing RCM involves dedicated effort, the longer term benefits reduce negative effects on all aspects of business through better resource management and effective maintenance execution invariably results in significant returns on the investment in surprisingly short timeframes.

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