What is RCM And How Can It Help You?

As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. And, to truly make the best of your business, there are several strategies and tools that you can implement. But if you aren’t sure what they are, it’s never going to work out. 

RCM or reliability centered maintenance is a corporate level maintenance strategy. This will be implemented to optimize the maintenance program of a company or facility.

The result of a typical RCM program is the implementation of a specific maintenance strategy. This strategy will be for each asset of the facility.

Maintenance strategies are all optimized to improve the productivity of the business. Yet it also must be cost-effective. Several principles are vital for RCM.

  • The primary objective, this should be to preserve the system function.
  • Identify failure modes. These failure modes can affect the system function.
  • Prioritization of those failure modes.
  • Decide upon practical tasks to control the failure modes.


In a general sense, failure is just an unsatisfactory condition. However, RCM requires looking deeper into the system, and not only at the equipment. It looks at the system as a whole. For example, a refrigerator is keeping the food cold but is leaking. So while it is performing its function, it is not functioning correctly. This is classed as a failure. The definition of failure in RCM will depend on the role of an item, or the system. And it will depend on the operating context in which the system or object is used.

When something is usually failing, it needs to be maintained or improved. In some cases, parts could also be replaced or upgraded in equipment to enhance its efficiency and reduce the requirement of frequent maintenance. For industrial equipment, high-quality parts could be preferable, including double block & bleed valve, compressor, pump, motor, etc., since quality control as well as health and safety in the workplace can depend on the equipment in use. In a commercial and industrial setting, machine failure could be hazardous and can cause injuries in the workplace. However, in general, if the failing item doesn’t have an impact or the impact is minimal, then maintenance is usually the recommended course of action.  

When something is usually failing, it needs to be maintained or improved. These things will prevent this issue of failing. If the failing item doesn’t have an impact or the impact is minimal, then maintenance is usually the recommended course of action. 

But when equipment that is failing has a significant effect, environmental damage, personal injury, or is not cost-effective, then a redesign might be required.

Improved target reaching with RCM

The primary function of reliability centered maintenance is identifying the tasks within a company that are the most vital. Working to optimize the maintenance strategies and minimize any system failures. This will ultimately increase the reliability and availability of equipment. Critical assets are those that are the most likely to fail. Or they have far-reaching consequences of failure.

With RCM, possible failure modes and the consequences are all identified. And this takes into consideration the function of the equipment.

Cost-effective techniques that will minimize any possibility of those failures can be determined. And effective methods will then be implemented to improve facility reliability as a whole.

There are many advantages to implementing RCM. It increases equipment availability, and drastically reduces maintenance and resource costs.

Every business should be looking for spaces to improve and maintain what they do and how they do it. Reliability centered maintenance is simply the process of finding the most effective maintenance approach. This all translates into money saved. When an RCM program is appropriately implemented, it makes a long-lasting impact on the company. 

It is highly unlikely that any company that chooses to sit back and keep doing things as they always have, rather than seek ways to improve them won’t last as long as they hope. 

Key Takeaways

In terms of function, every time you buy a piece of equipment, you want to have the equipment to work for a specific thing. Sometimes the machine has more than one function. This will be called the primary function and the secondary function. The function will always depend on the operating context.

  • Functional failure is when the equipment does not perform its function at all, or it could be if the machine is still working but not to maximum performance.
  • Failure modes are the events that produce failure. RCM differentiates between functional failure and failure modes.
  • Failure affects, when failure modes happen, these aren’t isolated. The failure effect will describe what happens and provide information that you can use to analyze the consequences of these failures.
  • Failure consequences RCM will perform a qualitative evaluation to determine the importance of those failure modes operations.

The full process of RCM requires more than just knowing some of the concepts. Yet, when aware of these concepts and understanding the difference between RCM approaches compared to other classical methods, you can understand how valuable RCM is to a business.