1 The Changing World of Maintenance
Over the last twenty years, maintenance has changed, perhaps more so than any other management discipline. The changes are due to a huge increase in the number and variety of physical assets (plant, equipment and buildings) that must be maintained throughout the world, more complex designs, new maintenance techniques and changingviews on maintenance organization and responsibilities. Maintenance is also responding to changing expectations, including a rapidly growing awareness of the extent to which equipment failure affects safety and the environment, growing awareness of the connection between maintenance and product quality, and increasing pressure to achieve high plant availability and to contain costs. The changes aretesting attitudes and skills in all industries to the limit. Maintenance people are having to adopt completely new ways of thinking and acting, as engineers and as managers. At the same time, the limitations of maintenance systems are becoming increasingly apparent, no matter how much they are computerized. In the face of this avalanche of change, managers everywhere are seeking a new approach tomaintenance. They want to avoid the false starts and dead ends that always accompany major upheavals. Instead they seek a strategic framework that synthesizes the new developments into a coherent pattern, so that they can evaluate them sensibly and apply those likely to be of most value to them and their companies. This paper describes a philosophy that provides just such a framework. It is calledReliability-centered Maintenance, or RCM. If it is applied correctly, RCM transforms the relationships between the undertakings that use it, their existing physical assets and the people who operate and maintain those assets. It also enables new assets to be put into effective service with great speed, confidence and precision. The following paragraphs provide a brief introduction to RCM, startingwith a look at how maintenance has evolved over the past sixty years. Since the 1930‟s, the evolution of maintenance can be traced through three generations. RCM is rapidly becoming a cornerstone of the Third Generation, but this generation can only be viewed in perspective in the light of the First and Second Generations.
The First Generation
The First Generation covers the period up toWorld War II. In those days industry was not very highly mechanized, so downtime did not matter much. This meant that the prevention of equipment failure was a low high priority in the minds of most managers. At the same time, most equipment was simple and generally over-designed. This made it reliable and easy to repair. As a result, there was no need for systematic maintenance of any sort beyondsimple cleaning, servicing and lubrication routines. The need for skills was also lower than it is today.
The Second Generation
Things changed dramatically during World War II. Wartime pressures increased demand for goods of all kinds while the supply of industrial manpower dropped sharply. This led to increased mechanization. By the 1950‟s machines of all types were more numerous and morecomplex. Industry was beginning to depend on them. As this dependence grew, downtime came into sharper focus. This led to the idea that equipment failures could and should be prevented, which led in turn to the concept of preventive maintenance. In the 1960‟s, this consisted mainly of equipment overhauls done at fixed intervals. The cost of maintenance also started to rise sharply relative to otheroperating costs. This led to the growth of maintenance planning and control systems. These have helped greatly to bring maintenance under control, and are now an established part of the practice of maintenance. Finally, the amount of capital tied up in fixed assets together with a sharp increase in the cost of that capital led people to start seeking ways in which they could maximize the life of the...