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Maintenance Task Selection - Part 3

Summarised by : Sandy Dunn
Webmaster, Plant Maintenance Resource Center

This is Part 3 of a summary from the plantmaint Maintenance discussion forum which discusses alternative approaches to Maintenance task selection, including RCM, PM Optimisation (PMO), RCMCost, and others - it also touches on Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Go back to Part 2 of this discussion

From Steve Turner

Hi folks,

I am away with my family on camping holidays at the moment so this means a few things:

1) I don't have all my reference material with me,
2) My internet access is a bit hit and miss.

I would however like to respond to the messages that have been circulating regarding maintenance analysis (RCM / PMO etc). I feel that there are a number of crucial issues being discussed here and am pleased that Dana Netherton and John Moubray have joined the discussion.

Secondly, I agree with Terrence OHanlon that some good case material would be useful. I have provided one case study which demonstrates the flexibility and speed of PM Optimisation.

The next point is that I agree whole heartedly with Dana, that setting standards for RCM is essential. My background and experiences are very similar to his. I abhor companies that sell RCM with little understanding of concepts and a process which does not conform to the Standard or Nolan and Heap work. I have long been on this bandwagon.

The final introductory point is that I do not agree with John Moubray's numbers on success rates of implementation programs or the distribution of failure modes into hidden failures, and hazards. The number of hidden failures that receive no maintenance at all (stated as 25%) may be true but we find that about this number of hidden failures are essentially redundant due to the massive over protection of some designs. On the contrary, we often work through the maintenance program and find that there is no technically feasible task to prevent a failure with hazardous consequences and protection is proposed as modification.

Rather than go through each of the questions raised regarding PMO, I will explain where we believe it fits in. Most of the questions that are being raised are perhaps because people are thinking that we are presenting PMO as a direct replacement for RCM in every application. This we are not. We see PMO as a tool for certain situations and RCM a tool for others. We also embrace Hazard Analysis, Root Cause Analysis and a whole range of tools designed for specific purposes. Our position is that organisations should understand what problems they have and then deploy the appropriate tool. If the plant has a hazard problem, then do hazard analysis. If there are a lot of contributing factors associated with plant failures, use root cause analysis. Using a tool that is wrong for the application is, as I say, cause for redesign under the RCM theory.

Where does PMO fit.

PM Optimisation (our registered version is PMO2000) is a tool for the review of existing maintenance programs. It does not conform to SAE JA1011 and we have never promoted it as such. Never have we called it RCM either. We do however say that it uses RCM task decision logic which is to say that once a failure mode is established we apply decision logic very similar to that of RCM II.

We have deliberately branded PMO 2000 completely different to RCM for three reasons:

1) To avoid the type of disservice done to buyers of RCM as pointed out by Dana.

2) To clearly set aside ourselves from RCM. PMO2000 is a different approach to RCM therefore it that can be used for needs where RCM is not appropriate.

3) We believe that there is a need to provide branding to clearly identify our methodology, training, software and facilitative support and our expanding group of licensees.

Why are there different needs for maintenance analysis?

In my mind, there are at least three distinct phases of asset life; one is the design, another is its operation and another is disposal. The maintenance analysis tools required for design and operation need to be quite different if they are to be successful in each situation. The reason is simple:- in the design phase there may be little experience with the equipment and one should start from first principles. In mature plant, the maintenance and operations folk have created their own maintenance routines (formal or informal) and there is failure history (often in human memory) which adds valuable insight into failure modes and characteristics.

To put things into perspective, the series of MSG methods have always been directed at defining the initial maintenance requirements for aircraft prior to them entering service. All the various aviation regulatory bodies require this analysis to be performed prior to them getting what is known as "type certification". RCM is based on MSG and has the same characteristics and functionality. Despite John Moubray's objection I say it is a tool to define the initial maintenance requirements and used prior to commissioning in aviation (the industry for which it was developed) therefore it is primarily a design tool.

Evolution of PMO

My experience with RCM and PMO commenced in 1984 as I was the engineering authority required to sign off the maintenance review conducted on the RAAF's Falcon 20 (Mystere) VIP aircraft (there were only three). The RAAF had developed its own approach to MSG and it was called RAAF Analytical Maintenance Program (RAMP). This was again a zero based analysis tool based on MSG etc. RAMP was used on most of the RAAF's fleet.

With the Falcon 20, there was a reluctance to perform the full RAMP due to the cost of such analysis compared with uncertain benefits when the continued ownership of these assets was always questionable. It was decided by the engineering chiefs to use an approach similar to that which we now call PM Optimisation. Guess what happened.... We completed the analysis very quickly and the results were excellent. We will never know how the outputs would have compared had we used the full RAMP analysis. However, what I do know is that the analysis was coordinated by one person who analysed data and asked the right people the right questions. It was completed in less than one year whereas the full RAMP on each aircraft was completed by teams of people and took years to complete each aircraft.

In 1994 I began work as an RCM II consultant, worked on a number of RCM assignments and trained hundreds of people. I had a poor success rate considering the large number of people trained. I had considerable difficulty in getting companies to invest in a pilot program. I met with senior company representatives often and I soon became aware that the process that was required was not a zero based analysis, but a rationalisation or review process. In 1995, I resigned from the consulting company with which I worked and began applying PM Optimisation in my own business, OMCS. Since that point, our PMO approach has never had a failure. All nine pilot programs are either complete or still going with the exception of one plant which is due for closure this year.

This is a dramatic change from my experiences as an RCM consultant and I don't attribute my changes of fortune to any other factor than using a different approach.

The PMO process has proven itself as a valuable business tool and can not be ignored as a legitimate process of evaluation for plants that have existing maintenance programs. It is not the best tool in every circumstance and we do not use PMO where it is likely to produce a sub optimal result.

One Case Study:

Imagine you are the maintenance engineer responsible for a gas field comprising seventy engine compressor sets, fifty of which are identical in configuration, but different in functionality and failure consequence. The reliability has been improved by better tuning and via engineering fixes, but uptime is struggling at 92% when some users are getting 98% out of similar plant in similar circumstances. The production and maintenance departments have also been "right sized" using the world's best plants as a benchmark... get the picture... insufficient resources.

What do you do.

What this company did was train up some people in PMO and run a four day workshop. In four days the following outcomes were delivered:

Spark plug failure was found to be a significant cause and the 4 monthly change out was reduced to 3 months as trials were done on longer life platinum spark plugs - purchasing were buying the cheapest ones bless their socks. Services are now back to 4 months with the new plugs and the new target is six months in some cases.

Six monthly instrument service (two days downtime) was excessive and duplicated the daily routines of the operator in many cases. The one task that was necessary was a probe clean task which actually needed to be done more frequently. The six monthly instrument service was moved to annual and the necessary clean task given to the mechanical fitter on a three monthly cycle.

Numerous other tasks were added and deleted to the operator's rounds and the mechanical list and the use of thermography was formally introduced to better manage valve condition. The oil analysis program which had been a hit or miss affair was set into a formal and well managed program which has since lead to the realisation that the greatest cause of oil deterioration has been increased nitride concentration caused by people not knowing where to set the fuel air ratio.

Implementation took some time but the result was over $4M in additional gas within six months (up to 94% uptime at last count), saving of one man year of instrument trade (in a section of three or four people) and a mechanical workshop that slept at night because sparkplug failure was no longer causing engines to backfire and shut down.

Question.. how long would an RCM analysis according to the Standard have taken where the functions and consequences of each compressor is different and the potential failure modes probably numbers in the several hundreds. I would suggest to do one set properly would have taken months and the result would have been of little difference. To stick to the RCM II process would require a zero based analysis of all compressors would it not?

Case Study 2

Same plant but in the CO2 removal trains. Seven similar assets in parallel built over 30 years. Uptime at 89% and dropping. Six monthly shutdown on all trains primarily to inspect Non Return Valves (NRV's) in the system which holds back 700 atmospheres of pressure when the trains trip. The NRV inspection takes 12 hours. During this time several other inspections / critical function checks and calibrations are attempted during that interval.

The operator rounds consist of over 100 readings to be taken every six hours. This takes second priority to isolations and controlling work permits so guess how much of this is actually done.

Demand for gas is increasing and in the previous year, major gas fired plants in Adelaide and Melbourne had to be taken off line due to supply shortages.

Workshop #1 NRV's

Found all NRV's except one could be inspected off line. The group proposed to change the policy of the one valve that required off line inspection from inspection to replace on an annual basis. The also proposed to set up accurate wear measurement on all other valves to potentially put all valves on scheduled refurbishment policy.

Analysis Time taken - three days mostly in consultation with engineers and manufacturers and trying to make sense of dodgy failure history.

Savings almost $800,000 in gas. But also an excellent example of why the accountants should not be reducing maintenance budgets. Replacement is more expensive on the maintenance budget.

Workshop #2 Operator tasks.

Deleted about 30% the tasks on the basis of the reading being set to gauges alarms and trips in the control room or the data having no significance. Set the remaining tasks to appropriate intervals of 6 hours, 12 hours 24 hours etc.

Proposed a modification to install pumps that are capable of removing sand, bolts etc from the four sumps on site rather than operators spending four hours per day cleaning them. (1200 manhours per year). Average life of original pumps around 7 weeks with average overhaul cost of 30 manhours. This was also a significant saving in mechanical labour and parts costs.

Deleted nearly all the data gathering and put placards on equipment where limits were important. Operators act only on deviations.

Workshop took 4 days with operator mech and instr tech.

Result is that Operators now complete their rounds (as you may expect, previously rounds used to be very ad hoc) and no trades need to inspections. Plant ownership spiraled upwards as did morale as operators were no longer required to do stupid things.

It is difficult to see how an RCM tool could be used in this fashion as the operator tasks covered the whole CO2 plant and affected a very large number of functions.

Workshop #3 Fan Maintenance

Seven sets of 16 very large fans being subject to visual checks by operators and an out of control lubrication schedule. Six monthly mechanical and annual electrical PMs... you can guess what was on these rounds.

Investigation found a $200,000 pa cost in gearbox overhaul pa alone.

Four days later we had the following recommendations;

The operators wanted to take on responsibility for vibration analysis as it was established that waiting for the gearbox to become noisy was too late as this was overhaul territory ($14,000). Picking up the problem as the bearings were starting to fail($500) using VA was the only way and they were the only ones that had the time to do it (now that their workload on rounds and sump cleaning was being reduced).

Introduce a well managed lubrication round.

Eliminate all mechanical inspections and ensure that alignment is done properly.

Collect data on cone ring coupling failures to establish economic life.

Other analysis

Over the period of 18 months we ran several other workshops in the CO2 trains with the total analysis time adding up to no more than 50 days. The whole of the CO2 train area is now complete. For some of the changes (particularly to the testing of trip and shutdown devices) a very rigorous analysis was performed and the proposals sent to senior engineers and later to the insurers for acceptance. There were no shortcuts which left the company at risk whatsoever. If anything, the risk profile has significantly improved due to various mods and changes from dubious on condition to hard time maintenance (NRVs etc).

During the year PMO commenced gas production increased by $20 M and a further $15 M in the second year. Last winter OEE was over 98% every month (cf 89% and falling) with some months reaching over 99%. This year maintenance expenditure was under budget by $1.8M My company (OMCS) assisted the client over the two year period with training (over 100 people trained) facilitation and project direction. The biggest difficulty with the assignment was implementation as we had a four by two week roster system to contend with and as you could see, many of the changes were quite dramatic culturally.


This case study illustrates the flexibility of the PMO process and how it can be used effectively in organisations who already have a maintenance program in place. We could not see any RCM process as being as efficient and effective at meeting the clients needs of both production and safe operations.

For those that are interested, the reliability group manager from this company is presenting a paper on their experience at the Mainstream 2001 conference in Sydney (March from memory). I am hesitant to say this for fear that all the RCM consultants will turn up and run a scare campaign and attempt to discredit both the process and the result. I hope that we can all be mature about this and not treat new approaches like they did witches some centuries ago.

Closing Statements

Both John Moubray and Ron Doucet have shared with us some fantastic case studies showing how RCM II can achieve exceptional results (I have experienced a few RCM II successes myself). In my mind each of these cases revolved around improved management of existing failures (this is intuitively obvious). For this reason I can state that the use of PMO 2000 would have created the same outcomes. The important point is that PMO 2000 would have done so with significantly less analysis effort and in a much shorter time scale. The documentation would have been as good or better depending on how you see things. This means that all of these projects have opportunity costs attached to them through delaying the benefits of the work and losing the ability to deploy the analysis resources on other valuable projects.

Gents, we have spent four years developing our process, software, training material and experience. We have never had a pilot program that has stopped. All our clients are moving as quickly as they can with the biggest barrier to advancement being the time it takes to implement. Many of our users are ex RCM users and are now PMO converts.

The big difference between RCM and PMO is the speed and flexibility of the PMO approach and the fact it is an approach designed to meet the needs of clients with existing plant. As far as success as a change management tool for mature plants, PMO is streets ahead of RCM as the people involved know that they are not having to reinvent the wheel from scratch. They know that they are using the very good wheel that they have already developed but as a team, making it work better with little fuss but a strong structure of analytical method and documentation.

Where to now?

When I get back off holidays I should put together a paper addressing all the important issues raised in more detail. At the moment it seems that there is a major scare campaign in progress which I believe is not justified. Keep the questions coming and I will respond to them in my paper.

I agree with John's suggestion that people who are interested in evaluating both processes should do so by running a comparative trial on similar equipment on their site.

For those that have not done so and are interested, there is a paper available on the website under downloads. Choose the paper for mature plants.

Thank you for your patience and I sincerely hope this is a rational explanation of the "other side of the world" from the other side of the world.

Best regards.

Steve Turner

From Peter Reed


All this and you are on Hols........ Geez mate - get a life - pack away the laptop and spend some time with the kids etc. I am just packing up our gear to do a bit of outdoorsy stuff and you can rest assured the PC will NOT be part of the packed gear (it would not be worth my life for the better half to find this sort of stuff in the tent).

BUT - I do believe that this could be the best debate yet and seeing the 'Big Guns' slogging it out over can only help the rest of us as long the debate remains clinical and we do not allow personalities to creep in. I have a heap of respect for all the people on this list, no matter what they do for a living, and would hate to see any personality clashes inhibiting an otherwise open forum.

Well peoples, I hear the bush (and fish) calling so its by for now.

Peter R

From Sandy Dunn

John, Dana

Thanks for joining into the debate - we welcome your contributions.

There are a couple of points in response to earlier notes from Steve, John and Dana that I would like to comment on. I know that, in the past, many on the list find this discussion to be somewhat irrelevant to them (we have already terminated one earlier discussion on this topic by mutual consent, due to requests from the list membership). For those that are not interested in this thread - hit the delete key now!

I am aware that this forum is not intended to be used as a vehicle for selling and/or pushing commercial interests. I have tried to comply with this spirit, although it is difficult when discussing alternative, commercially available approaches. If any feel that I (or anyone else on this list) has overstepped the mark in this regard, please feel free to say so.

Steve said....

"I agree whole heartedly with Dana, that setting standards for RCM is essential."

I say...

I agree that the development of SAE JA1011 will greatly assist in clearly separating which techniques are RCM, and which are not. The standard has clearly defined RCM to be based strictly on Nowlan and Heap, whose work was developed primarily for use in the airline industry (and subsequently adapted for the US Department of Defence). If we accept this definition for what it is, the debate can then move on from whether "Technique A/B/C is or is not RCM" to answer the question of whether RCM is, or is not, an appropriate process to be used in industry in general, and if so, under what circumstances. As Dana wrote, this is specifically NOT covered in the Standard.

Dana said...

So far, every comment I have seen from a user [of the SAE standard] has ranged from favorable to devoutely grateful.

I say...

Unfortunately, my experience, when discussing the SAE Standard with users, has been that their reaction is mainly one of disinterest or apathy.

John said...

"take special note of the views of the one commentator who is a practising maintenance manager and hence who does not have a commercial axe to grind, but who feels strongly enough about all this stuff - based on personal experience - to share his thoughts at length (Ron Doucet of the Iron Ore Company of Canada)"

I say....

I agree wholeheartedly. I would like to hear more of the experiences (successful or otherwise) of those that have trialled/implemented an RCM/PM Optimisation or equivalent approach. The fact that, of the several hundred participants in this list, only one non-consultant has any significant benefits to report seems to me to indicate that either RCM is not, perhaps, the panacea that many consultants make it out to be, or that very few have actually undertaken any form of structured PM review/development - or am I mistaken?

John said....

"Sandy Dunn states that "I have recently come to the conclusion that, in contrast to the position that is put forward by John Moubray, Ron Doucet and others from the RCM II religion, the major problem is that RCM II (and by definition RCM) has NOT been sufficiently adapted to meet the needs of industry outside the airline industry."

Firstly, as discussed in section 2 above, RCM is not used by the airline industry. Secondly, as discussed in section 3 above, the SAE RCM Standard (not RCM II) defines what RCM is."

I say....

I think you have misunderstood the point that I was trying to make. Ron Doucet, in an earlier note stated that "RCM II was the attempt at industralizing the process such that it could be applicable to any industry not only aviation", and I have heard you make similar statements yourself on previous occasions. My point is that, while RCM attempts to deal effectively with risk at a micro (PM task) level, particularly with regard to failure finding tasks, it completely fails to do this at a macro level (ie., what are the potential business, safety, environmental etc. impacts of failure of this plant/system/process), and therefore with what level of rigour (if any) should I, as a manager, assess my PM program on this plant/system/process. To state, as you do, that you are coming to the conclusion that all plant items should be assessed using a rigorous RCM process fails to acknowledge the real situation of most maintenance managers today, who are being required to perform minor miracles on a daily basis, with almost no resources (money or people) with which to do it. When resources are scarce (ie always!) it is a managers job to ensure that he obtains the greatest possible return for his investment. With regard to RCM/PM Optimisation, he/she needs to adopt an approach that is flexible enough to allow a highly rigorous approach, where this is required, and a less rigorous approach when a great degree of rigour cannot be justified. I should also point out that, in the absence of any form of macro risk assessment, discussion quickly degenerates into verbal blows and circular arguments between the scare-mongers (you know who you are :-)!), and the "she'll be right"-ers.

John said...

"It is true to say that the application of RCM has not been successful in every case. It can be said to have failed in about one third of the orgainsations where it has been tried.

....a great many other RCM practitioners have been active in Australia for the past ten years, and their collective experience is that about two thirds of the applications of RCM to date have progressed well beyond the pilot stage (not 1 in 10)."

I say....

I strongly dispute your figures - at least in Australia. "A great many" RCM practitioners that have been active in Australia is actually 11 (give or take a couple), and I know them all personally, as they are all former colleagues of mine. In fact, about three or four years ago, all key practitioners got together in Sydney to discuss "whither RCM II", and all had the same experience - strong initial interest, a pilot study that showed great results, and then limited further implementation. I don't have the exact figures (and clearly you do) but, while an RCM II practitioner, I organised two (and I believe, so far the only two) Australasian RCM II users' conferences. In attempting to round up potential speakers, it was easy to find those who were more than happy to talk about the success that they had had with their pilot projects, but much harder to find any organisations that had implemented on a wider scale. I can only think of 6 organisations (in the 8 years that I was associated with RCM II), that had conducted RCM on more than two or three systems - and two of these were my clients. At three of the organisations that I am currently familiar with, RCM is no longer part of their maintenance improvement program or philosophy - I have not recently been in contact with the other three, and am, therefore, not in a position to judge their current status.

John said......

"...there is in fact a high correlation between the success rate of RCM II applications and the change management capabilities of the consultants involved. (Among others, the British Royal Navy, which is a major user of SAE-compliant RCM, has come to understand that the capabilities of individual consultants are every bit as important as the track record of their employers. So much so that the RN now insists on interviewing at great length every RCM consultant that is to be placed at their disposal, in addition to verifying the commercial bona fides of their employers.)"

I say...

This indicates to me, the major drawback of RCM, and the reason that so few organisations implement RCM on a wide scale, despite the fact that the initial pilot studies show excellent results (at one of my RCM II pilot projects, expected benefits of $10m pa were estimated, mainly consisting of improved production output, and reduced reagent usage. The cost of this pilot study was approximately $40,000, and when anonymously surveyed, 100% of team members felt the process to be beneficial, and wanted to be involved in future analyses - but despite this, the client has not (in the 5 years since the pilot study) ever conducted another RCM study)

RCM is, as a result of its rigid approach, so resource-intensive and so demanding of management attention, that it requires a MAJOR change management effort for it to succeed. If only a highly talented few consultants are good enough to be successful at implementing RCM, then what hope is there that the program will be sustained when the consultants leave? Great for consulting fees - not so good for clients!

John said...

"retroactive approaches are particularly weak on specifying appropriate maintenance for protective devices"

I say...

PMO2000 allows the flexibility of identifying functions for protective devices which are critical to the integrity of the production process, or for ongoing safety or environmental concerns. In fact, I have just completed a PMO2000 review for one client on their one (and only) steam boiler, which is critical for the entire production process. One of the major outcomes of the review was the fact that it took several days, (and talking to dozens of people) to obtain a list of all the trips and alarms in place on the boiler. In the end, it was supplied by the Plant Operations Supervisor - maintenance personnel, and many Production operators, did not even know it existed. There was clearly a complete lack of focus on protection - which has now been rectified. Incidentally, the review also identified 53 current PM tasks which were to be deleted - mainly duplication of tasks by different people using different techniques at different times. For example, bearings were monitored for vibration using the human senses by three different groups of people - Production Operators, Mechanical tradespeople, and Electrical tradespeople. In addition, Condition Monitoring contractors monitored the bearings using Vibration Analysis techniques. And to top it all off, the bearings were replaced every three years, regardless of condition - even on equipment that had installed spares!

Steve said....

"PS I did note an unnecessary and misguided slur on Sandy Dunn's ability on one piece of correspondence. I hope that this is not going to be the tone of future discussion."

I say...

Thanks for your concern, Steve, but I think the original comment reflects more on the person that made it, than on me. In Australia, we have a saying "play the ball, not the man", and that is what I intend to continue to do.


Enough consultant-speak. If you got this far, let us know what your experiences have been - non-consultant reponses particularly welcome.

Alexander (Sandy) Dunn

From Dana Netherton

Hi, Sandy. Thanks for the welcome. :-) I have a couple of very brief things to mention, below.

On 4 Jan 2001, at 22:32, Alexander (Sandy) Dunn wrote:

Steve said....
"I agree whole heartedly with Dana, that setting standards for RCM is essential."

I say...

I agree that the development of SAE JA1011 will greatly assist in clearly separating which techniques are RCM, and which are not. If we accept this definition for what it is, the debate can then move on from whether "Technique A/B/C is or is not RCM" to answer the question of whether RCM is, or is not, an appropriate process to be used in industry in general, and if so, under what circumstances. As Dana wrote, this is specifically NOT covered in the Standard.

As the chair of the committee that wrote the Standard, I am very pleased to find that the Standard is doing what we intended it to do: it is helping us clarify our discussions by helping us be clear about what we mean by terms such as "RCM". I am glad that you and Steve (and the others here, it looks like) are content to accept the standard and, as you say, allow the debate to move on.

Dana said...

So far, every comment I have seen from a user [of the SAE standard] has ranged from favorable to devoutely grateful.

I say...

Unfortunately, my experience, when discussing the SAE Standard with users, has been that their reaction is mainly one of disinterest or apathy.

No doubt this reflects the different people we have encountered. Most of the people I have encountered are people who came to my sessions at conferences, wanting to find out what this Standard might be. Once they did, their comments "ranged from favorable to devoutly grateful."

Of course, I have also had a *lack* of comment from people who *might* use the standard: people who are not using RCM now, and in fact who are barely able to spell "RCM" consistently three times in a row (such as potential clients). These people don't know enough about the issues to care about the Standard. They are indeed apathetic about it, but IMHO understandably so.

However, I don't view these people as users of the Standard -- they aren't using it! And I haven't received comments from them -- they don't know enough to volunteer them! The comments I *have* received from people who *are* using RCM (or who know enough about RCM to be ready to use it) have been such as I described. :-)

In any case, my point remains: so far, the only *negative* comments I have seen about the content of the Standard have come from consultants. Which makes me especially pleased that the consultants on this mailing list seem to have accepted the content of the Standard. :-)

Oh, and I agree fully that the best tone to take in this discussion is a professional tone, looking at the profession -- not at the professionals. It is very easy to get overheated in e-mail exchanges. Those who are listening-in will be best served if we can shed light, not heat.

(Though we Americans who have been "enjoying" winter temperatures of -10C and below, lately -- with wind chills in the range of -20C or worse -- would be glad to get some heat! :-) )


Dana Netherton

From John Moubray

Sandy, Steve

There are one or two points in this discussion where we appear to have fundamentally different information at our disposal, particularly concerning the ongoing use of RCM2 in Australia. If anyone wants to find out more about where RCM2 has been and is still being used in Australia, they might like to get in touch with Stephen Young of the Asset Partnership:

However, I would like to respond to one or two other points, as follows:

Firstly, Sandy says: "My point is that, while RCM attempts to deal effectively with risk at a micro (PM task) level, particularly with regard to failure finding tasks, it completely fails to do this at a macro level (ie., what are the potential business, safety, environmental etc. impacts of failure of this plant/system/process), and therefore with what level of rigour (if any) should I, as a manager, assess my PM program on this plant/system/process."

RCM deals directly with risk at the macro (business) level. In fact as explained on pages 28 - 35 of the second edition of my book, the whole RCM process starts with a detailed examination of the operating context of the system under review, if necessary up to and including the mission statement of the company, in order to ensure that the people performing the analysis have a crystal clear understanding of how failures of the system under review can affect the business process of which it forms part. Furthermore, Appendix 3 (page 344 in particular) shows how the RCM process can make direct use of corporate risk standards on a quantitative basis (if such standards exist).

Sandy goes on to say: "To state, as you (JM) do, that you are coming to the conclusion that all plant items should be assessed using a rigorous RCM process fails to acknowledge the real situation of most maintenance managers today, who are being required to perform minor miracles on a daily basis, with almost no resources (money or people) with which to do it. When resources are scarce (ie always!) it is a managers job to ensure that he obtains the greatest possible return for his investment."

Firstly, I mentioned in my original contribution that if RCM is correctly applied by properly trained people working under the direction of a skilled facilitator, and the project has been properly planned before it starts, it usually pays for itself in between two weeks and two months. (In some cases, the payback period has been measured in days and sometimes one or two years, but the norm is weeks to months.) Most managers in my experience would regard this as a more than adequate return on investment.

Secondly, one of the biggest problems in the world of physical asset management today is that maintenance managers "are being required to perform minor miracles on a daily basis, with almost no resources (money or people) with which to do it". The disasters mentioned in my earlier e-mails are one result of "too few resources". A far more significant result is the truly vicious legislative developments (in which Australia is taking the lead) that were mentioned by Ron Doucet, Stephen Young and myself. These are now proposing jail sentences not only for individual managers who might be found to be at fault, but for whole teams of people.

These issues are so serious that I believe it is worth repeating two sets of statements made in my initial e-mail: "The message to us all is that society is getting so sick of industrial accidents with serious consequences that not only is it seeking to call individuals as well as corporations to account, but (in the case of the Victoria Evidence Act) that it is prepared to alter well-established principles of jurisprudence to do so. Under these circumstances, everyone involved in the management of physical assets needs to take greater care than ever to ensure that every step they take in executing their official duties is beyond reproach. It is becoming professionally suicidal to do otherwise" and "However, a rather more serious point needs to be borne in mind when considering these techniques. The very word 'streamline' suggests that something is being omitted. (For instance, Steve Turner states that PMO usually omits the function identification step, and that as a result, it only identifies half of the reasonably likely failure modes that would be identified using even 'Classical' RCM.) In other words, there is to a greater or lesser extent a degree of sub-optimisation embodied in all of these techniques. Leaving things out inevitably increases risk. More specifically, it increases the probability that an unanticipated failure, possibly one with very serious consequences, could occur. If this does happen, as suggested above, managers of the organisation involved are increasingly likely to find themselves called personally to account. If the worst comes to the worst, they will not only have to explain, often in an emotionally-charged courtroom confronted by bitterly hostile legal Rottweilers, what went wrong and why. They will also have to explain why they deliberately chose a sub-optimal decision-making process to establish their asset management strategies in the first place, rather than using one which complies fully with a Standard set by an internationally-recognised standards-setting organisation. It would not be me that they would have to convince, not their peers and not their managers, but a judge and jury."

Under these circumstances, it is not going to be an acceptable defence to say that I did what I did because my boss told me to, or because I was not given sufficient resources to do it properly.

In essence, I believe that the legal environment in which maintenance managers are operating throughout the developed world, and especially in Australia, is now such that the time has come for maintenance managers to start pushing back and demanding the resources needed to do a proper job. I know that this is much, much easier said than done, but the stakes have simply become too high to do otherwise.

For those who you who have not already made up your minds on this subject, Steve and I seem to be in complete agreement in suggesting that the best way for you to do so would be to try them both on a pilot scale, preferably on the same type of equipment. Look at the outcomes in terms of documented maintenance programs (with a special eye on defensibility) and in terms of benefits achieved related to costs. Then decide.

John Moubray.

From Mick Drew

"RCM2 does comply fully with SAE JA1011."


I understood the standards was written for Users to evaluate a supplier of RCM services. When supplier start quoting that they comply with the standard- on what premise do we judge their claims?

From Dana Netherton

Sorry if I gave that impression. I speak neither for the SAE, nor for the other members of the RCM subcommittee. That statement expressed my judgement, no one else's.

I understood the standards was written for Users to evaluate a supplier of RCM services. When supplier start quoting that they comply with the standard- on what premise do we judge their claims?

Is this the first time you have ever heard a supplier state that their product or service meets a certain standard? (rhetorical question, needs no answer)

As it happens, I'm sincere about what I said, but of course that doesn't mean that my judgement is right. If a user feels that it's likely I'm mistaken ... then they should check for themselves. Or get a second opinion from someone who knows RCM well.

Just the usual process, on both sides of the table.

Dana Netherton

From: Robert C. Baldwin

Maintenance Technology magazine published a two-part article by Dana Netherton on SAE JA1011 "Evaluation Criteria for Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) Processes" a short time before its adoption. Both parts are online at an

Another article, "Is Streamlined RCM Worth the Risk?" by John Moubray, is scheduled for publication in Maintenance Technology later this month.



From Peter Ball

Hello Mick Drew ,

Just to add to the RCM confusion, we now appear to have PMO confusion. Enter ERIN Engineering with their PMO methodology using PMO Workstation software. I wonder how it compares with Fractal Solutions' PMO software Premo-Expert. Come in Steve, Sandy, David, others.


Peter B.

From Steve Turner

Hi Folks

I wonder why I need to be asked about other products and companies performing PMO as I would expect that you should contact them. However, I will tell you a little what I know and where to find more information. Premo Xperts is a software package (and methodology) used for PM Optimisation. It originates in from the North American Nuclear Power Industry. It has been tried in Australia at four sites. One of them continues to use it. PMO 2000 has been developed in a response to what we perceived as deficiencies with that approach.

You can visit the web site for Premo Xperts at for more information.

I have heard of the ERIN engineering approach but know little of it. I have seen their site and the extent of what I know is what you can find out off this site yourselves.

Still confused as to why I should become the spokesperson for other companies.



From Terrence O'Hanlon

I am far from being an expert however my understanding is that Planned Maintenance Optimization (PMO) may have cost and speed of implementation advantages for plants that already have a PM program and need to increase its effectiveness.

I do not see that there is a debate between PMO and RCM as each seem to have situations for which they are best suited. In most plants, any program that would increase reliability and maintenance effectiveness would be a huge improvement over the status quo!

It is similar to a debate about which is best, Vanilla ice cream or Chocolate? (NO replies from ice cream consultants please!).

I would still like to see more input about what is effective from the "real world" practitioners.

Best regards,

Terrence O'Hanlon

From Mick Drew

Nothing sinister in terms of angles from my part, but your previous notes on the genesis of PMO referred to experiences in the nuclear industry and referances to "numerous successful plants in the US", therefore I was confused about whether these referred to PMO or Premo Expert system from Fractal solutions.

"We believe that there is a need to provide branding to clearly identify our methodology, training, software and facilitative support and our expanding group of licensees." Steve Turner Jan 4 2001.

Your reply now clarifies the genesis of PMO -" PMO 2000 has been developed in a response to what we perceived as deficiencies with that approach (sic Premo Expert)."-Steve Turner Jan 8 2001. and you are now licensing others to apply PMO.

Thank you for the clarification, but I am still confused as to how the success in numerous plants in the US has anything to do with PMO 2000.

From Steve Turner

Hi Mick,

The reference to the US Nuclear plants I have used to compare the speed of analysis of PMO with RCM in mature plants. I have used the term PMO in a generic manner. The gist of the argument is that PMO is six times faster than RCM. The other point that I use the US Nuclear power industry for a reference is that the US Regulators wrote that the PMO program was a significant benefit which means to us that PMO is a legitimate process.

PMO2000 is has several differences to Premo Xperts (at least it did when I last saw the PX program). Using Premo Xperts functional analysis and functional failure analysis is mandatory whereas with PMO2000 these are optional. To complete a single task analysis in Premo Xperts can mean routing through 14 screens and this requires users to be quite computer literate. Using PMO2000, all the analysis is done on one screen and the tool is designed so that anyone in the organisation can go into the system and make a recommendation to change or add PMs. The approach is clearly focussed on empowering the workforce to make suggestions to improve the PM program. This analysis then goes through a secured process of approval and implementation. An audit trail is kept of every change.

There are numerous other differences however, the one that also should be noted is that PMO2000 can be used to build hierarchical schedules, ie one task can go on many schedules such as weekly, monthly, three monthly etc. Once ready for implementation, each of these schedules is automatically merged into word documents that users can create templates for and that can be hyper linked to most CMMS's. This reduces the administrative effort in changeling schedules inside of the CMMS and also allows for great flexibility. Premo Xpert has been designed to electronically interface with various CMMS however, we have never been able to achieve this in Australia. All users have had to rekey the outputs from Premo Xperts.

We have been asked by several local PMO users to electronically interface PMO2000 with some CMMS's and we have held positive discussions with some vendors.

Hope this helps to clarify the differences.



From Peter Reed

Terrance and Co:

I have been reading the latest series of Tomes with considerable interest and it has been this debate which has cleared my mind a little. I have been of the belief that I have been bashing head against a wall, preaching the need to carry out some analysis of our current PM system. Whether this be RCM or any other system analysis now seems moot when looked in the cold hard light of day.

When I read 'most' of Mr Mowbreys two part mini-book, my main thought was "where are the catalysts in these examples?". What was it that drove these companies to take on the RCM expenditure and discipline? Somehow I cannot imagine a Company Board sitting around with their cheque - books thinking "What can we spend some money on this week?". There must have been some real need that would make these companies scream for help and this need must have been great indeed (& obvious) if the savings were this easily measured and evident. When this is taken in context we then see that, in my mind, there must be a lot of companies who waste a lot of hard earned cash on the principle that this (or any other) system saved other companies a lot; ergo we will recoup our expense in the same fashion.

I think everyone agrees that RCM/PMO, or anything else is not necessarily for them. Whether this is because of current maintenance strategies, plant design or market position is not really relevant to anyone else except the company involved. I suppose what I am trying to say is that other Companies' gains in using any system should NOT be used as a guideline for your own participation. What should be used is your own company's position and potential as well as your OWN perception or measurement of what can be gained from these types of processes.

There was one reply (whose Author's name escapes me) to this forum, that essentially said "look to your own people for the answers to these questions" (or words to this effect). This statement is so true it is scary in that we spend so much time trying to tell our own staff that this 'formalised process' is the 'be all to end all' that we forget that these people have probably already designed a PM process which covers the tenet's of RCM and actually suit the plant as it stands.



Peter Reed

From Terrence O'Hanlon

Peter -

In turning over the rock you may have discovered (or at least illuminated) the greatest maintenance and reliability paradigm of all times: WOYOP (Wisdom Of Your Own People) Asset Management.

Of course one could argue that for some plants WOYOP is not practical so SWOYOP could be implemented there (Streamlined Wisdom Of Your Own People). This would require a new team of consultants with entirely new software to implement this system.

In my past life as a vendor, I had several large scale successful projects turn out great because the people at the plant told me what was needed! (Thank goodness)

In reality, the situation is pretty grave for many in this area and a method/paradigm for managing/measuring and supporting small incremental change that will take hold and last, support more change etc... is really needed. One that focuses them on themselves and their specific situation sounds even better. Find out what works and do more of that!

RCM/PMO and the like are fine but to think that one size fits all is crazy!

Thanks for such a sage perspective!

Best regards,

Terrence O'Hanlon

From Peter Reed


My Goodness - a new marketing ploy here for FIVE LETTER ACRONYMS (FLA) or even SIX LETTER ACRONYMS (SLA). In the words of that sage actor Keanu Reeves. - "Whoa Dude"



From Trevor Hislop

Hi Peter

I was possibly your unknown author - or Michael Doolan. Thanks for writing your tome ! I hope it sparks some basic debate. I cannot resist adding to your comments.

I am still amazed at how often company management do everything but the obvious, which is to ask themselves, and agree on exactly what they want the company to produce each year in terms of volume or numbers of units, assuming that the plant will run to design capacity whenever it is required to do so - WHY NOT ???

This is the "Top down" requirement.

What do maintenance need to do to the plant in order to ensure that it will meet the "Top down" requirement?

This is the "Bottom up" (maintenance) requirement in terms of plant downtime, or plant upgrading time.

The two married together gives you the "Top down - bottom up" approach.

How do you find out what is needed to work out the maintenance requirement ??

Ask everybody - from plant lubricators (anti-friction engineers) to plant operators, to shift fitters, to day fitters, to Production Foremen to ----

Believe me, you will get far more nitty-gritty common-sense feedback from your shop floor people then your senior management!

How often do we see PM checks that are carried out(possibly) because they were written years ago by somebody and never changed, even though the shop floor fitters know that the PM content is rubbish and outdated ?

I once had a Maintenance Planner who had marked foundation bolts to be checked every 3 months. The fitters knew this was rubbish, and so did I (as Manager) but it took the threat of dismissal to force the planner to listen to the guy's who fix the machines and change the check !!

Peter, go back to basics - forget software and books and TALK to people and LISTEN to what they say, and GIVE THEM CREDIT IN PUBLIC ! You will gain a huge resource.


From Ray Beebe

The approach used at a large plant was close to what Trevor says.

The plant was divided up into into 19 key systems. Each had an engineer or technical officer allocated to focus on that system - and be the "owner" of it. (Some covered more than one system). The role was to provide the engineering support - troubleshooting, plant modifications, changes to operating instructions, project engineering, for that system - across all disciplines.

At that time, major improvements were being implemented, but then the task was to develop formal maintenance strategies for each system. A formal approach was used in each case, using the then available methodology (not RCM - but the approach did use some of the parts of the thinking).

Along with this was the production shortfall logging system. Operators entered any shortfall below plant rating and the cause code (from 300 or so) on the shift logs. This was data processed and later edited by a day person to allocate the shortfalls into the parent systems.

The cost of the lost production was thus neatly identified. This information, and the engineering proposals - costed - formed the list of works for the maintenance program. Some of the tasks were non-discretionary - if not done, the plant would not run, so these formed the start of the list. All the discretionary items were then ranked in order of best value for money. If higher approval resulted in a spending limit, the line could be drawn across the list, and the impact of arbitrary setting of budgets could be seen to all.

The maintenance program was then implemented by the maintenance people, who used their skills of management, leadership, organisation and planning to achieve the goals.

Of course, along the way there was much discussion between all concerned, so that when the maintenance budget was handed across, all were convinced of its quality.

Part way through one year, due to a forecast of lower than planned profit, top management ordered a 5% cut across all plants. This was to be imposed on all plants - but guess which one had its spending increased, and which ones had theirs cut by over 5%?

The annual production records kept on being broken for some time afterwards.


Ray Beebe

From Mike Fitch

Dear, Dear Peter,

In your narrative you wonder at a company's decision to take on the expense of RCM. I too have marveled at many American company's propensity for straining at gnats while swallowing whole camels. They will cut a $40,000 maintenance salary so the manager can say he did something to cut cost when times are lean. That same person which was cut, may have performed tasks having a value above $40,000 a month in plant reliability. Amazing!! Then the same company, which was turning a deaf ear to the technicians pleas for the time & resources to do precision work (please give us time to fix things right), this company turns around & hires a consulting firm for $$$$ which recommends a process costing $$$$ to implement, which they buy. And guess what the process directs them to do!!! USE THE TIME & RESOURCES TO FIX THE RIGHT THINGS IN A MANNER OF PRECISION. What it boils down to Peter, is that many corporations don't believe that they can actually receive valuable guidance unless they pay a lot for it!!! Sorry for the long sentences & the soap box. All this being said, our company is making such a maintenance process change & it's great!!! Why didn't the American company's do it 30 years ago when only the technicians were saying "if you'll give us time & resources to really fix the problems, we'll make more $$$ in the long run???

Mike L. Fitch

From Michael Doolan


you have extremely succinctly and very eloquently voiced something I have been trying to get through on this group and at different work sites through most of my career. Lets hope you don't get "Boo'd down" as seems to be the norm here.

Michael Doolan

From: Walt Sanford


I have been reading with interest the discussions about approaches to RCM implementation. There seems to be a "camp" of practitioners who feel it is best to select critical equipment and then only apply RCM to this equipment, since it is anticipated that this is where the outcome will justify the effort.

There are several potential flaws with this approach I would like to point out.

First, the RCM process itself is supposed to indicate, from a functional standpoint, what assets are critical. To attempt to classify criticality via a subjective external process has the potential to miss critical assets that are not always recognized as such until an analysis is performed, such as an FMEA. Having been implementing RCM for over 11 years, at many different client sites in many different industries, we invariable find a significant percentage of the "critical" equipment are items which the client did not previously consider important, which were either waiting to cause a major problem, or have been causing problems as a root cause but never recognized.

Second, even if this up front determination of criticality is fairly accurate, to only address this equipment is doing a great disservice to yourself, whether you are in a highly proactive or reactive mode. It is important from an optimization standpoint to address all significant assets. In a reactive environment, if only critical assets are addressed, it is likely the result will be to increase the total effort due to the specific proactive tasks that are justified to be implemented for critical items. If all assets were addressed, some simple proactive tasks for less "functionally" critical assets could be identified which typically are much more cost-effective than reactive tasks. In proactive environments, addressing the less critical assets allows the systematic and well thought out shift of resources away from these assets, where it is not justified, and toward the critical ones, still yielding a net reduction in effort.

The problem is not the way that one implements RCM. The problem has been the specific methodology used. I was around when practitioners of certain out-dated methodologies were being berated by clients because of the incredible resources needed to apply these processes. Their response at the time appeared to be "Yes, we agree it takes alot of time and resource. So just apply it to the important things and forget the rest". There is a benefit to this if done correctly, as processes can become more reliable and safe. But this benefit is often minor compared to what can be realized if the process can be efficiently applied to all major assets to programmatically change the way Maintenance and Operations do business.

RCM has a few, key principles that must be adhered to. Within these principles there are several ways to "skin the cat", some much more efficient than others. As I stated before, I have been applying RCM for over 11 years. This has been with major industrial clients in a miriad of industries, Refining, Chemical, Power Generation and T&D, Manufacturing, Facilities..... The difference has been that we have continued to enhance the process based on real experience and what really works for the specific objectives needed. We did not write a text book and spend the next several years trying to justify its cast in stone approach, and enormous resource requirements. RCM was not invented by anyone who has a textbook published. These are simply examples of valid approaches to apply the RCM principles. It does, however, concern me when I see things written, such as a recent and short-sighted article in Maintenance Technology attempting to dissuade potential users of RCM methodologies other than those published in a textbook. My response is that it is called PROGRESS. If we never continued to improve on good ideas we would still be driving Model T's and flying in Zeppelins.

It is my recommendation that you become educated on the principles of RCM and apply them in a way that allows you to reap its full benefit. This is done by designing it so that you can spend a little or alot of time on an asset based on a progressive determination of its importance and significant faiulure mechanisms. Find the right level of rigor for the specific application. You will find the most cost-effective way to manage your assets, without sacrifice to safety or the environment.

Finally, I would like to comment on a recent message from Trevor Hislop asking how much it would cost for the first 2 years of implementing RCM at a facility with 1000 plant items. 2 YEARS?!? If you can't get through that many assets in less than a few months, something is wrong with the process. The cost after that is a periodic or condition-based upkeep of the analysis to reflect experience or changes in business demand or regulator requirements, i.e.: about every 6-12 months spend a few days revisiting each system.

I dilligently read the stream of very interesting comments passing back and forth, but I seldom add my 2 cents, so I thank you for your patience with this relatively long one.

Walt Sanford

From Dana Netherton

I have some thoughts in response to Walt's interesting piece. I know that people often find it easier to read short e-mails than long ones, so I'm going to break this up into three e-mails. This is the first one. :-)

Walt's concerns about applying RCM only to "critical equipment" struck me as sensible. In a word, how sure are you that you have identified all of your "critical" equipment before you have examined them all using RCM?

Besides (as he rightly notes), once you have a smoothly-running RCM program in place, why not apply it to the "less critical" equipment that still causes various kinds of pain when it fails?

I am not personally enamoured of pre-RCM criticality analysis, because it strikes me as a pre-analysis analysis. If you're going to do RCM, take the "Nike" approach: Just Do It! Pick something egregious, and go for it! Then pick the next thing that is still egregious, and go for that. And the next, and the next ... until you're left with nothing that you care about.

The precise order in which you review assets -- whether you do A, then B, then C, or whether you do B, then C, then A -- doesn't strike me as nearly as important as whether you review them in the first place.

And I see so many people get wrapped around the axle on that preliminary decision, that they never get off top-dead-center and *do* anything. A wonderful excuse for inaction. "Well, we couldn't decide where to start." *shrug*


Dana Netherton

From Dana Netherton

This is the second of my three comments on Walt's interesting e- mail. As I noted in my first one, I hope that this will be short enough to let people feel encouraged to read it! (I also hope that it will reach the list *after* the first one does!)

Right after Walt's good comments about criticality analysis, he went on to say something else that puzzled me. He said ...

RCM was not invented by anyone who has a textbook published. These are simply examples of valid approaches to apply the RCM principles. It does, however, concern me when I see things written, such as a recent and short-sighted article in Maintenance Technology attempting to dissuade potential users of RCM methodologies other than those published in a textbook. My response is that it is called PROGRESS. If we never continued to improve on good ideas we would still be driving Model T's and flying in Zeppelins.

I've poured over my copy of the Jan 2001 issue of MT, looking for an article written by someone who tried to "dissuade potential users of RCM methodologies other than those published in a textbook." Couldn't find one.

I did find an article by John (Moubray). In it, he tried to dissuade potential users of processes that don't conform to the SAE standard on RCM processes, SAE JA1011 -- especially when the folks who sell such processes persist in calling these non- compliant processes "RCM" (or "adjective-RCM", such as "streamlined" RCM or "turbo" RCM or some such).

Is that article really such a problem? I certainly see plenty of articles (in MT, and in other places) by those non-compliant folks, in which they throw mud at compliant RCM (which they usually dismiss as "classical RCM") in order to justify the "adjectival" approach they have taken. In fact, in a later comment in his e-mail (to which I'll respond in a separate e-mail), Walt seems to do something like the same thing, indirectly at least. (I'll say more about that separately.)

In his January article, John seemed (to me) simply to be giving arguments that would counter theirs. I would think that that is all part of the Great RCM Debate, which we have been seeing in this list as well.

Shucks, if it's fair for the "pro-non-rigorous" folks to have their say, I should think that it's equally fair for the "pro-rigorous" folks to have their say too.

Just my opinion, of course. :-)


Dana Netherton

From Dana Netherton

This is the third and last of my short responses to Walt's interesting e-mail. I hope it's short enough to encourage people to listen to it! (I also hope it reaches the list after my first two responses do!)

After talking about criticality analysis (topic 1) and John Moubray's MT article (topic 2), Walt went on to say:

It is my recommendation that you become educated on the principles of RCM and apply them in a way that allows you to reap its full benefit. This is done by designing it so that you can spend a little or a lot of time on an asset based on a progressive determination of its importance and significant faiulure mechanisms. Find the right level of rigor for the specific application. You will find the most cost-effective way to manage your assets, without sacrifice to safety or the environment.

Two things.

First, when Nowlan and Heap invented or codified RCM, in their 1978 report, they described a specific process that has specific criteria for examining failure management policies. SAE JA1011 says that a process that is truly an RCM process will use the same criteria.

If one uses a process that has "less rigorous" criteria, then one is not using the RCM process. This does not automatically mean that one is using the wrong process. But a lot of confusion that has arisen in the field over the last 10 or 15 years, because people have used the same name for different processes. Names do matter.

There, that's me speaking as the fellow who chaired the SAE subcommittee that wrote SAE JA1011. Now that's off my chest!

Second, whether you want to use the RCM process, with its rigor, or some other process with less rigor, is of course up to you. In many cases, people select their process based on business reasons -- expected costs vs expected benefits.

Here, Walt's earlier point about "critical" equipment arises again. An RCM review performed on "non-critical" equipment often throws a spotlight on some asset that no one had ever considered "critical" before -- but that turns out to have utterly critical functions and/or failure modes.

How might this happen? Some years ago, many sites completely ignored their protective devices -- treated them as non-critical, because their failures usually had no direct effect on production. They might have left such devices out of their RCM program, and assigned them to some less-rigorous process -- such as a process I recently encountered that goes limp if there is a hidden failure but no failure-finding task is appropriate and the design boys say "we can't help you."

(Hint: according to RCM, this is one time when you don't take "no" for an answer. If your protective device doesn't protect you adequately, you had better do *something* -- this is not a situation you "just live with". If it's truly dangerous, and if you truly cannot protect your people or the surrounding district from its dangers, the "redesign" *may* consist of shutting down the plant and sending everybody home for good. But you had better do *something*, before a judge steps in.)

So. If you have plant that you feel is "non-critical", you might make the business decision to use a process that is less rigorous than RCM, and that is also less expensive than RCM. Just be sure that you have considered the possible risks. And make sure that your payments for your industrial insurance and your company's lawyers are up to date.

Just in case. :-)

(And BTW if you do want to use such a process, in order to save some bucks on your analysis, you might get quotes from both RCM and non-RCM consultants. From what I've seen, consultants often charge whatever the heck they think the market will bear. As a result, non-RCM consultants are not necessarily any less expensive than RCM consultants. (I've seen some non-RCM consultants who are just as expensive, and some who are actually more expensive.)

That's purely my opinion, and I *am* an RCM consultant, so take it for what it's worth. It's certainly worth every penny you're paying me for it!

And BTW (just as a reminder) I don't do business outside English- speaking North America, so if this discussion persuades any of the many Southern Hemisphere folks on this list to do one thing or another it won't mean a thing to me, financially.


Dana Netherton

From Steve Turner


Most times it's bleeding obvious where to start, and this is not to do with assest criticality on many occasions. Its to do with local management enthusiasm, the maturity of measurement systems, and often to do with the people who work in the area and their motiviation to take on something new. Sure, the first project needs to have some $ attached.

Secondly, why not target labour productivity early in the program as with labour productivity you can reinvest it in more reliabilty programs. Productivity is compounding. Uptime is a once off hit an usually gets filled with more production meaning more maintenance with the same windows of opportunity.

Second, the bigger the criticality assessment, the bigger the procrastination and the more everyone gets disillusioned.

The other point is this, does anyone work in a plant where the design engineers have thought of every machine going down. There is one I was at recently where every failure (almost) could be by passed or the the process run enefficiently for a while and off spec product "sort of" recirculated.

After a few workshops we became tired of hearing that every piece of equipment was not critical. The very forgiving design had a very negative outcome on the whole culture of the organisation. Noone seemed to care about reliabilty. No assets were considered to be critical. This was the case in theory but overall, the output of the plant was 10% less than what it should have been.

The strategy was then to try an lift every part of the plant by 15% or some margin close.

The critical part of this plant was the culture not the machines!


Go to Part 4 of this discussion

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