What is RCM? Reliability Centered Maintenance

RCM, which stands for Reliability Centered Maintenance, is a maintenance management philosophy that aims to ensure that assets or machines continue to perform their intended functions effectively.

The philosophy relies on a functional analysis of the potential failures that may occur in a particular operational context. This analysis is conducted by a team of multidisciplinary experts.

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The RCM methodology results in a flexible maintenance management system that can be customized to meet the specific needs of an organization.

Factors such as the environment, cost-effectiveness, safety, and operation are taken into account to develop a comprehensive maintenance plan.

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RCM is a proven approach to achieve optimum reliability and availability of equipment, while reducing overall maintenance costs.


RCM is a procedural tactic that is based on the constant questioning of maintenance activities, and follows a coherent process. Some of the common questions are:

  • What are the normal operating parameters of the equipment?
  • What impacts do functional failures generate?
  • What is the root cause of the failures?
  • How can each failure be prevented or eliminated?
  • What procedures can be done to control the failure, if there is no way to anticipate or eliminate it?

Objectives and advantages of RCM

Objectives of the RCM

The most relevant objectives of the RCM that we can name are:

  • Eliminate machine breakdowns.
  • Minimize the cost of repair labor, due to the decrease of corrective maintenance.
  • To give information of the production capacity of the plant through the state of its machines.
  • Plan precisely the maintenance needs.

Advantages of RCM

RCM has many advantages due to the increased availability and reliability of assets, some advantages are:

  • Increases operational safety and environmental protection.
  • It establishes an efficient system of preventive maintenance.
  • It greatly reduces the cost of maintenance (corrective maintenance decreases).
  • Integrates maintenance tasks with the operation.
  • It promotes team work and increases the knowledge of all maintenance and production personnel, regarding machines and processes.
  • It generates a critical and analytical spirit to the personnel regarding the failure conditions of the machines.

Considerations prior to the implementation of RCM

To succeed with the RCM maintenance philosophy, having a good human resource is crucial. The RCM team members should have a high level of commitment to the company and view RCM as a solution to problems rather than additional work.

To maximize effectiveness, the philosophy should be applied directly to assets or machines that have the greatest problems, rather than attempting to apply it to an entire plant, which can slow the process down.

RCM is a powerful industrial maintenance tactic that increases productivity and improves machine reliability. It is based on functional analysis of failures within a given operational context, performed by a multidisciplinary team.

The resulting flexible maintenance management system adapts to the real needs of the organization, taking into account factors such as the environment, cost-benefit ratio, safety, and operation.

It’s important to note that RCM is a primarily technical tool based on the four common maintenance actions (preventive, corrective, predictive, and modifying) and other advanced techniques, distinguishing it from TPM, which has a behavioral approach.

This methodology is highly effective and easily implemented in companies with a positive organizational climate.

Steps for RCM Implementation

There are several procedures for implementing RCM; regularly in essence, they all focus on common general purposes. These are the steps that must be executed for implementation.

  • Election and formation of the work team
  • Selection and definition of the equipment and processes where it will be implemented
  • Identification and selection of critical systems, establishing their functions
  • Performing analysis of recurrent failures.
  • Perform analysis of failure modes and effects
  • Select the maintenance procedures to be carried out according to the failures
  • Evaluation of the reliability, maintainability and availability of each machine
  • Allocation of adequate resources for the overall prioritization plan based on the costs/benefits associated with each failure.
  • Constant revision and supervision of the whole general scheme.

This implementation will be successful as long as the human resource is motivated and aware of the importance of teamwork between maintenance and production around the assets or machines.

However, it is important to remember that the organization must have experience in preventive maintenance and the execution of a maintenance plan, and then proceed to implement this powerful tactic.