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RCM or Reliability-centered Maintenance
... is a maintenance approach or philosophy that resulted from work started in the 1960s in the civil aviation industry which brought into question the effectiveness and value of the traditional approach to machine maintenance that was at the time heavily biased towards regularly scheduled “preventive maintenance". Without the economies achieved by adopting RCM it would have been economically impossible to introduce the jumbo jet into commercial aviation. Remarkably, the analysis of failure data collected by all of the major airlines, but particularly by United Airlines, made it possible to not only achieve very significant economies by utilizing less of the intrusive and manpower-intensive traditional PM but this change also produced a totally unexpected bonus in that it also dramatically increased aircraft reliability. Since its discovery and subsequent development in the latter part of the last century RCM has been widely adopted by NASA, the US military and virtually every other industry – except healthcare.
The RCM approach uses the term "preventive maintenance" to encompass what it calls “scheduled restoration tasks” in which the vulnerable part is restored or refurbished rather than being totally replaced, and “scheduled discard tasks” in which the vulnerable part is totally replaced. However, RCM also introduces a third element to the PM component that it calls predictive maintenance. In predictive maintenance the deteriorating part is replaced or restored at a time that is determined by directly monitoring the condition of the part, utilizing what RCM calls an “on-condition task”. In this case the deteriorating part is replaced or refurbished on a “just in time” basis, i.e. at a time that is determined by directly monitoring the actual condition of the part in order to detect the impending failure at the beginning of the wear-out phase of its life cycle, before it reaches a level that would result in total failure of the component.

See HTM ComDoc 14. for a much more complete discussion.

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