RCM Blog

6 Reasons Organisations Fail in the RCM Implementation (and how to avoid)

Jul 26, 2020

If you are a maintenance and reliability practitioner, Reliability-Centred Maintenance (RCM) will be a familiar maintenance methodology to you. We’ve learnt projects that had a successful RCM implementation, but most often, we heard of businesses who embraced RCM claimed that they did not get the expected return from their RCM projects.  If you are frustrated with your RCM projects, this blog will be good reading for you – we listed 6 main reasons why organisations fail in the RCM implementation and suggestions about how to avoid these problems.

What is RCM?

Reliability-centred maintenance (RCM) is a proven and structured approach which, when properly implemented, can enable organisations to determine and perform the best maintenance strategy to improve their asset reliability. Why do organisations fail in the RCM implementation? Here are 6 reasons:

Reason 1: Lack of understanding of the RCM process and steps

A number of organisations started their RCM projects without a fundamental and thorough understanding of the RCM process. Some do not know where to begin and the main steps to ensure a successful RCM project, some treat RCM as an analytic method only and overlook the importance of comprehensive follow-ups after they completed the analysis. Therefore, at the beginning of any RCM projects, all the basics must be in place. Steps and values should be clarified to the RCM team and our one-page RCM process infographic will be a useful resource to enhance the understanding. Besides, a case study is a good approach to present the input and output of RCM. If you do not want to stick to the long process, streamlined RCM is a great solution to simplify the RCM implementation.

Reason 2: Implementing RCM without sufficient resources

RCM projects require inputs from a cross-functional team of subject matter experts. Inadequate team composition will impede an RCM success.  Usually, a core RCM team consist of 4 to 5 professionals, who might from maintenance, machine repair, machine parts management, operations, system engineering, manufacturing engineering, quality/reliability, equipment manufacturer. Some sort of RCM training or education is also needed for all team members and the facilitator at the early stage of the process. Make sure that all members have the required level of skills to develop and lead the RCM implementation.  Meanwhile, other resources like a technical document, instruction, failure data should be identified at the first stage of RCM. In many cases, organisations abandon their RCM projects due to the number of resources required; however, the truth is businesses get start with the project without fully identifying the basics of maintenance and equipment history, and they waste lots of resources on overcomplicated criticality and failure mode analysis.   Also, from a practical perspective, RCM analysis does not have to be done on all your assets. Based on the 80-20 principle, organisations should identify the most critical assets – those whose failure will have great safety and environmental, operational and production impacts – and make them the priority. 

Reason 3: Lack of a common and specific goal in RCM implementation

This issue is more common in the RCM process and especially in the decision-making step.   As we mentioned in the 2nd reason, RCM is a cross-functional team activity. It is critical that each team member from different disciplines has a consensus for their goal and contributes their own expertise to work together as a team. Failing to do so will lead to poor quality decisions and inefficient RCM implementation. Therefore, an experienced RCM facilitator is significant to drive the development and completion of the process, supporting the team to implement the output within the efficient period of time. 

Reason 4: Lack of willingness and leadership support in the RCM project

Implementation of RCM may require considerable cultural changes within the organisation, especially when they heavily rely on reactive maintenance for a long time. The attitude of the plant personnel, from the floor level to the manager level, will directly determine the outcome of RCM projects.  If the leadership is unable to convince employees about the value of proactive maintenance, people will be reluctant to shift from reactive to proactive. If the senior management fails to commit the resources and give ongoing support, the floor level will feel unconfident and negative about the RCM project and stop their efforts.   Therefore, when starting implementing RCM, organisations should regard RCM as more a culture thing that needs to be developed among any organisation across the board. A holistic RCM approach is the key to an RCM success, which highlights that a well-implemented and value-adding RCM project requires both leaders’ and employees’ engagement to successfully embed RCM into the company culture.  In some cases, a long process can cause the organisation unwillingness as well. Streamlined RCM is a good shortcut to save timeCompanies with extensive experience in conducting the RCM methodology will not only allow you to have rapid RCM implementation but also suit your unique needs to build your maintenance strategies. 

Reason 5: High expectation for RCM

When organisations get started with an RCM project, without a clear guide, they will be easily impressed by the well-documented successes and regard RCM as a magic bullet that can fix all system problems. This unrealistically optimistic expectation will lead to missed targets and reduced efficiency of the process, ultimately prevent organisations from seeing the real value of their RCM projects.   Therefore, before rushing into implementing RCM, organisations should undertake some up-front activities such as defining the equipment to be analysed, reviewing relevant documentation and assess the existing workforce. For instance, if there is a poor documentation culture or an inefficient workforce, you may need external RCM support to give a better clarification of the required process time and resources.   

Reason 6: Overlooking Maintenance Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The evaluation of the current maintenance and reliability KPIs is essential as well.  A set of leading and lagging KPIs should be updated and developed to gauge the effectiveness of RCM implementation and a frequent review must be carried out among all the stakeholders in a timely fashion. Additionally, KPIs need to be been defined in a way that a factory floor operator can understand the impact their performance can have on each metric. People will be more motivated and confident if they see good results because of their inputs and ownership of the RCM process.  By overcoming these 6 obstacles, your RCM project will give you the confidence to alter your maintenance strategies to improve your asset reliability with an acceptable level of risk, in a cost-effective manner. 

RCM Related Resources:

  1. The Ultimate Guide to Perform an RCM Analysis [Infographic]
  2. RCM Q&A for Reliability Professionals – How to Embed RCM into the Company Culture 
  3. Why and How Should Reliability Professionals Implement RCM by a Holistic Approach
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