The evolution of maintenance strategy
Continuous improvement programs nearly always start on the plant floor and, with success, expand into other areas of the corporation. Lean and Six Sigma have wide adoption and many are using these programs in the maintenance area. The objective of maintenance is to ensure high equipment uptime. Reliability Centered Maintenance specifically targets this objective.
Continuous improvement programs nearly always start on the plant floor and, with success, expand into other areas of the corporation. Lean and Six Sigma have wide adoption and many are using these programs in the maintenance area.
The objective of maintenance is to ensure high equipment uptime. Reliability Centered Maintenance specifically targets this objective. RCM provides a strategy for management of the asset that ensures reliable performance through specific, properly-timed inspections, analysis and preventive maintenance. The result is a balanced program that applies resources where they are most effective.
Continuous improvement programs have achieved wide acceptance among manufacturers. ARC research conducted in early 2007 indicates that the adoption of Lean Manufacturing has reached 69% and Six Sigma is at 52%. Nearly everyone starts their program on the plant floor. While some remain narrowly focused in this area, most have seen benefits and expanded into other areas of their operations.
CI programs have evolved to add specificity in methods, training and metrics. For example, Total Quality Management has been displaced by Six Sigma. TQM is a program for optimizing quality across an organization and is relatively unstructured. Six Sigma is very structured with, for example, the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control process for problem identification and resolution. Where TQM was somewhat visionary, Six Sigma is almost a “cookbook” with a specific objective and methods. The specificity has improved their success rate in achieving meaningful business benefits. These financial benefits get the attention of senior management and the program expands.
ARC recently published research for a best practices report on Maintenance Management. The survey targeted maintenance managers and the results reflect their discipline.
Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma are being applied to maintenance management in many companies. However, the maintenance function has a unique continuous improvement program. RCM has a much higher response in this survey (adoption rate of 25%) than found in other ARC studies on CI programs.
Objective of the CI program
The maintenance managers who participated in the survey were very clear on their overall objective: to ensure high uptime of the equipment so it’s available for scheduled production. This clarity in overall objective is reflected in their selection of a continuous improvement program. High uptime is the primary outcome of an effective RCM program.
For each survey response, 31 attributes where analyzed to provide a rating used to rank the responses. In the list of ratings, there were separations that allowed for clear segmentation into Leaders (top 20%), Competitors (next 60%) and Followers (remaining 20%). Examining the data finds some sharp differences among these categories of respondents.
Having a CI program and applying it to the maintenance function is a characteristic of Leaders. RCM is specifically tailored for maintenance and most leaders use this approach. Leaders apply their CI program to the maintenance function and 53% selected RCM as their prime continuous improvement program.
Reliability Centered Maintenance
RCM is being used for maintenance of assets in a wide variety of industries including discrete, hybrid, process and utilities. With RCM, an asset is viewed as providing a set of functions that benefits the organization. The focus is to preserve these functions, not necessarily the asset itself. RCM methodologies include a process to identify the functions, failures, modes, effects, consequences, preventive tasks and default actions. The analysis uses Failure Mode and Effects Analysis and systematically answers seven questions for each asset:
What functions are expected and at what level of performance?
In what ways does the asset fail to provide these functions?
What can cause each failure to occur?
What happens when each failure occurs?
What is the impact of a loss of functionality?
What can be done to predict or prevent each failure?
What is your alternative if a suitable proactive task cannot be found?
The result of an RCM analysis is a strategy for management of the asset that ensures reliable performance through specific, properly-timed inspections, analysis and preventive maintenance. Critical functions will receive extensive attention. Low priority functions may have a “run to failure” strategy. RCM is recognized as a rational approach for developing an effective asset management program. The result is a balanced program that applies resources where they are most effective.
Ralph Rio can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .