MRO Magazine

IIoT and RCM3: Digital Transformation spawns new approach to Reliability Centered Maintenance

Reliability centered maintenance (RCM) is a rigorous optimization process for asset-intensive organizations. Typically, assets covered by an RCM initiative are mission critical because of the requirements for health, safety and the environment (HSE), but also because of the financial impacts of downtime.

March 31, 2017 | By Jerry Browning

Here, Jerry Browning, Senior Advisor, North America, IFS, looks at the opportunities to boost safety, reduce risk and improve the bottom line with the emergence of RCM3 in asset intensive industries – and the need for agile asset management software support, every step of the way.

The then…

The initial practice of reliability centered maintenance goes back in the aviation industry as far as 1978, with senior executives and engineers from United Airlines formalizing an approach to improve maintenance efficiency and operations. Since then this maintenance approach has been widely adopted by asset-intensive organizations across a variety of industries – from the Department of Defense using it for jet aircraft maintenance, to theme parks using it to manage maintenance of attraction components and equipment.

In 2005, consulting group Aladon LLC filed for a trademark of the term RCM2 for their formalized approach to RCM. RCM2 was a step up from its predecessor and included new material around condition monitoring, the analysis of functions and failures, human error, risk management, fault finding and the measurement of maintenance performance.


…and the now

A lot has changed in asset management in the last decade. Equipment is smarter than ever before, supporting enterprise software has evolved and new industry standards are continually moving goal posts. In light of these developments, Aladon sought to make reliability centered maintenance a more rigorous strategic business tool with the release of the new RCM3 in 2015.

According to Aladon Network member and certified RCM3 practitioner Carlo Odoardi, the fourth generation of RCM is designed to unlock efficiency and reduce risk by capitalizing on new technologies and digital transformation, to push asset risk management higher in the organizational structure.

“RCM3 is no longer just another initiative, but a mainstream business risk management process,” Odoardi said. “It has the ‘teeth’ to become the most important management system for improving process safety and asset integrity. Our new risk-based methodology is the only process companies need to maintain and optimize all their physical assets including critical and non-critical, rotating and static.”

RCM3 Catalysts

RCM3 is designed to help executives not just avoid risk, but to measure it so it can be used to maximize profit. In order to deliver this enterprise wide view of risk, RCM3 encompasses a number of emerging technological and business process-related developments.

IoT brings smarter assets, smarter operations

These developments include new technologies, particularly the Internet of Things (IoT) and interconnectivity of smart devices, as well as predictive analytics for defect elimination.

Growing investment in the industrial internet of things (IIoT) and the rapid spread of sensors which automatically collect event and condition data in real-time, means plant managers, CFOs and others have access to more asset data than ever before

When coupled with the support of enterprise software which helps aggregate, store, access and analyze the data coming from smarter equipment, asset intensive organizations have an opportunity to reach the next level of RCM, and unlock bottom line benefits from increased efficiency and decreased risk.

International standards pushing risk center stage

Complying with International guidelines such as ISO 55000 asset management standard and ISO 31000 risk management standard is also a driver pushing asset heavy organizations toward increased enterprise visibility.

Risk mitigation is a major focus of RCM3, which is fully integrated with business management systems such as reliability centered design (RCD), root cause of failure analysis (RCFA), risk-based inspection (RBI) and hazard and operability studies (HAZOP). The ultimate goal of RCM3, according to Odoardi, is to offer a comprehensive approach to – and visibility of – asset condition and related risk issues.

Visibility key to RCM3

With IoT-enabled assets and more access to real-time data, asset-intensive organizations are well placed to respond quickly to equipment concerns. However, without a methodology such as RCM3 and the visibility provided by enterprise-wide software support, businesses will lack the agility needed to benefit their operations.

Many organizations lack agility because they do not give people authority to make decisions, and suffer from unconnected and siloed data. Without an organizational discipline like RCM3, executives may not pay attention to maintenance until they experience a failure – at which point it is already too late. Lack of visibility also means organizations cannot proactively plan to realize the full potential of existing equipment, extend the lifecycle of assets and or project how asset portfolios may need to change to meet evolving business needs.

Enterprise software – no limiting factor

A top-down view of asset readiness is vital for senior managers. Production, orders and quality control are all dependent on the people and machinery on the factory floor and businesses cannot afford to mishandle a large order because they did not have full visibility into asset readiness.

Organizations may also need to avoid the opposite extreme – leaving money on the table. Businesses may have hidden opportunities but may not have the C-level visibility into the true productive potential. Companies wanting to add product lines or scale up production may be prevented from doing so because they lack insight into the cost of additional assets or the full capacity of assets currently in use.

Unlocking RCM3 with Enterprise Asset Management

An RCM3 approach combined with 360-degree enterprise asset management provides this visibility. Even organizations working on calendar-driven maintenance programs can realize an upside in terms of business agility, capacity assurance and more informed decision making by analyzing equipment history data. Whether making a business case for new machinery, an additional maintenance shift, or a refit contract for a major piece of equipment or asset, organizations need the hard data in hand on which to base those decisions and a way to present that data for higher level decision makers.

Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software tools are more than capable of providing this type of digital transformation and strategic role for maintenance. Using EAM software to collect business information from the enterprise and put it into the hands of the people who need it creates enterprise-wide visualization of asset data from a CEO level perspective.

You cannot buy EAM software that magically contains RCM, because RCM is a discipline rather than a technology. But EAM is an integral part in capturing, interpreting and applying asset data so organizations can take measurements, track equipment history, record the type of failures and do predictive analysis for a full-scale RCM3 program.

Armed with RCM3, maintenance and asset managers can become better strategic players across the enterprise.

This article was submitted by Jerry Browning, Senior Advisor, North America, IFS, a globally recognized leader in developing and delivering enterprise software for enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM) and enterprise service management (ESM).


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