Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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RCM, or Reliability Centered Maintenance, is a physical asset management process for all industrial applications including today's modern, complex systems. RCM was developed out of civil aviation findings and research that was carried out in the 1960s. The discoveries made in civil aviation prompted a United States Department of Defense report to be commissioned in 1976 and issued in 1978. This report was entitled Reliability Centered Maintenance.

The principles of RCM address the consequences of failure instead of trying to prevent every cause of failure. RCM seeks to preserve the functionality of physical assets recognizing that it is more important than attempting to prevent every failure from occurring. RCM2 includes a risk assessment of business and management requirements including customer service, first time quality, mission achievement in addition to operating costs, safety and the environment.

Some New Ideas Based on RCM

RCM strategies include developing maintenance practices that are unique to the asset being maintained, including predictive, preventive, corrective, and failure-finding tasks. RCM2 incorporates failure-finding tasks that apply to hidden failures and as such, is poised to become increasingly common as the number and use of protective devices increases.

RCM also updates some of the misunderstood concepts surrounding maintenance practices. For example, old, outdated models of the conditional probability of equipment failure are updated to take into account newer comprehensive studies based on the MSG3 principles developed in the mid 1960s. This information has led to the development of the third generation of maintenance management with respect to the conditional probability of failure which are far more accurate for today's complex asset environments.

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