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Maintenance Task Selection

Summarised by : Sandy Dunn
Webmaster, Plant Maintenance Resource Center

This 4 part summary from the plantmaint Maintenance discussion forum discusses alternative approaches to Maintenance task selection, including RCM, PM Optimisation (PMO), RCMCost, and others - it also touches on Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Go to Part 2 of this discussion

From Peter Ball

Ron (who lurks no more),

Welcome to the fray.

Just a couple of basic questions:

1. Are you aware of any other RCM "Packages" that conform to the requirements of SAE JA1011;
2. If so, can you name them?
3. If there are others, then why have you come out so strongly in advocating RCM11, which after all said and done is only the title of a book.

Please do not mis-understand me, but industry IS confused with this never ending 'tussle over RCM and it's many variations, most if not all fail in some respect or other. Hence the need for TQM in many instances.

Peter B.

From Ron Doucet

To Peter, who is definitely not a lurker,

Sorry about the delay in responding to this but it is a busy time of the year

To answer you first question regarding other SAE JA1011 compliant RCS, yes there are others namely the US Naval Air Command's NAVAIR 00-25-403 "Guidelines for the Naval Aviation reliability Centered maintenance Process" and the British Royal Navy with its RCM-oriented Naval Engineering standard NES45, these process have remained true to the process that was named RCM by Nowlan and Heap in 1978. I know a lot of so called RCM processes out there and I have compared them and none except those that I mentioned

For those of you who don't know, the evolution of RCM started in the 1960's to address the reliability of aircraft in an attempt to keep them airborne. The aviation industry started to focus on maintaining what the aircraft did, not what they were. In other words they were maintaining the functions of the aircraft. With so much success and enabling planes to be reliable and at minimizing their maintenance costs, the US Department of Defence commissioned a report to aid them in maintaining their aircrafts.

In 1978, a report was prepared for the US DoD describing the current state of the process that the airlines were using. the report was written by Stanley Nowlan and Howard Heap of United Airlines. It was entitled "Reliability-Centered Maintenance", or RCM.

From general consensus and from what I have seen, no other comparable process exists for identifying the true, safe minimum of what must be done to preserve the functions of assets. This includes not only maintenance tasks but also operator tasks, training, process changes and physical redesigns.

To answer you second request, yes

For your third, when it is all said and done, RCM II is not only a title of a book (worth reading by the way) it is also the name of the RCM process. Unlike all of the other RCM's, whose focus was to take the sound work of Nowlan and Heap, (if they read it) and try to make is faster, RCM II was the attempt at industralizing the process such that it could be applicable to any industry not only aviation. One of the major changes was not in how the process is applied but to actually make it more rigorous such that environmental consequences could be managed.

In 1978 when the Nowlan and heap report was published, the environment was not the biggest issue and for aircrafts, the focus was on "maintaining the desired functions of the aircraft, to take off, fly and land, not on environmental consequences after a crash.

I have come out strongly in favour of RCM II because other so called RCM processes either skip steps , do not embody the functional approach, or are merely preventive maintenance optimizing tools. As for the latter, they are focused on improving an already existing maintenance program and not on determining what the maintenance program should be. True RCM, determines the required activities to ensure that any physical asset continues to deliver its desired functions in its present operating context.

The problem with all of the "expedient or quickened versions" that I have seen is that they are not safe. Keep in mind, some so called RCM process do not even resemble one bit the original RCM. Of those that do, steps that were taken out in the streamlining effort without knowledge of the consequence.

I was even at a conference where this vendor of an RCM type process said "With (this type of RCM) you can identify 85% of critical failures in much less time than classical RCM" (read RCM II).

The question I had to ask was, what are we going to do with the other 15% of critical failures?

Apart from the fact that RCM II is not slower than any so called other RCM process, can we stand up in court after someone has died and justify the ignoring of critical failures for expediency of a process.

Here is something to think about as you are choosing how you will determine you future maintenance programs. As there are a lot of Australians on this site, this should be close to you hearts:

After the Longford disaster in September in the State of Victoria, the State parliament on November 13th 1998 added a new section to the State of Victoria evidence Act of 1958 which reads as follows:

"19D. Legal professional privilege

(1) Despite anything to the contrary in this division, if a person is required by a commission to answer a question or produce a document or thing, the person is not excused from complying with the requirement on the ground that the answer to the question would disclose, or the document contains, or the thing discloses, matter in respect of which the person could claim legal professional privilege.

(2) The commissioner may require the person to comply with the requirement at hearing of the commission from which the public, or specified persons, are excluded in accordance with section 19B

In other words, when all is said and done, this amendment suspended attorney/client confidentiality for the purpose of Longford and future official inquiries.

I will leave the decision up to you, as for me, I have chose a sound, audible and defensible process. I would hate to be in front of an inquiry telling people that I tried to save a few buck on a process which documented that it followed the 80/20 rule.

Anyway that's all for now.

I hope I have addressed you questions and comments


From Steve Turner

Hi Ron,

I would like to make some responses to your email (attached) which made some comment on PM Optimisation. PM Optimisation is a relatively new tool but has been found to be better than RCM for many operations. Through this email, I would like to explain why and clear up some of the miosunderstandings that I think you may have picked up around the tracks. I hope that the group may be interested in me providing some information on PMO.

This email is going to be fairly long but I hope interesting... so if your going to have a read, give yourself five minutes.

If you want to go to a website about PMO, visit There are two detailed explanation papers which you can down load. One is about applying PMO in a mature organisation and the other is about using PMO in the design phase of a project.

My source of information

The information that I am using is based on 12 years of consulting in the area of RCM and other maintenance improvement tools.

For four years in the early 90s I was a Licensed RCM II trainer and facilitator. For the past four years, I been working along side Strategic Industry Research Foundation (now known as SIRF Roundtables Ltd ( and 8 major multinationals from a variety of capital intensive industries. My work has resulted in a well proven tool to improve asset management. The work commenced with evaluating the approach taken by the North American Nuclear Power Industry.

What is PM Optimisation?

PM Optimisation is a method of maintenance analysis specifically designed for existing plants. It has also been used to assist in the design phase of new plants where there is experience in dealing with ones that are similar.

The methodology that we have developed is called PMO2000. PMO 2000 has nine steps as follows:

Step 1 Task Compilation
Step 2 Failure Mode Analysis
Step 3 Rationalisation and FMA Review
Step 4 Functional Analysis (Optional)
Step 5 Consequence Evaluation
Step 6 Maintenance Policy Determination
Step 7 Grouping and Review
Step 8 Approval and Implementation
Step 9 Living Program

Download a paper from the website for more details of these steps.

Basic Premise

In general terms PM Optimisation starts from the premise that mature organisations must be doing reasonably well to be still in business so the current PM program can't be that bad.

Having said this, we commonly find that most of the industry problems emerge because of insufficient resources to complete the program as well as the corrective maintenance requirements. We therefore have a strong focus on human as well as asset productivity and have designed a method which retains the necessary levels of coverage and detail, but is done in a vastly improved time frame.

The next premise is that in mature plant, most of the likely failures have been experienced or have been managed effectively by the current preventive maintenance program. Those potential failures that have not occurred may not be economically preventable anyway (depending on cost of down time) as the cost of failure averaged over the life would be low compared to the cost of prevention.

The process

Essentially what is done by using PM Optimisation is to gather in one list all of the formal and informal maintenance tasks done by all those involved in operating and maintaining the equipment. (It is worthwhile noting that we find on average 50% of the PM completed is done on an informal basis through the initiative of tradesmen or operators.)

The next step is to define the failure modes that each task is meant to prevent or detect.

We then sort and filter all the failure modes and add to the list, those which have happened in the past and are not receiving any PM and also add to the list any failure modes that are considered likely to happen. We often do a bit of a Hazop at this point using PID or other technical references including any manuals.

Once failure modes are listed, the functions lost by each failure can be listed. This step is optional and rarely done in practice. To most uninitiated people this is heresy however, we believe that a functional analysis is, in most cases, not good value for money. The example I would like to use is that of a family car or a mobile phone. I would like you to ask yourself what value you would get by spending a day fathoming all the functions of either before working on the maintenance analysis. Having said that, there have been times when the group needs understand the functionality to come to a satisfactory outcome and this is why we say this step is optional.

Once failure modes have been established then, consequence analysis and task determination proceeds in line with recognised RCM decision logic and the rest is no different to RCM.

In summary, if I were to explain in one paragraph the differences between traditional RCM and PMO it would be this:

PMO and RCM methods are both methods of maintenance analysis aimed at defining the complete maintenance requirements of assets however, the central difference is the way that the body of likely failure modes is generated. RCM starts from a zero base and arrives at a list of failure modes by defining functions and functional failures whereas PMO generates a list of likely failure modes through an analysis of the current PM program and adding to that, the list of failures that have already happened and those which, on examination of the design are considered likely to happen.

This process is on average six times faster than Classical RCM (I can provide the reference paper if anyone is interested). In addition this we believe that PMO2000 obtains a maintenance coverage very close (98%) of that which you would obtain using classical RCM methods.

Comments on Ron's propositions.

Proposition 1

"I have come out strongly in favour of RCM II because other so called RCM processes either skip steps , do not embody the functional approach, or are merely preventive maintenance optimizing tools. As for the latter, they are focused on improving an already existing maintenance program and not on determining what the maintenance program should be"


We believe that the whole point of PMO is to determine what the maintenance program should be. Perhaps you mean something else that I have missed.

Proposition 2

"The problem with all of the "expedient or quickened versions" that I have seen is that they are not safe."


You may like to expand on this Ron as there are no reasons provided. However I would like to make the following points:

First, the PM Optimisation program used in the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Station (USA) for many years has been assessed by the equivalent or our Regulator General as a major strength. This came after the company abandoned the use of RCM.

The second point is this. Lets say you have 30 hazards in your plant, one of them is receiving no PM, three are receiving the wrong PM and the others are being maintained properly. Can you wait five years to find out the problems or do you want to find out straight away. If you use PMO2000 you will have these under control in one year, if you use traditional RCM it will take you six.

Further to this, in my ten or so years of facilitating RCM analysis, I have put about 1 in every 200 failures in the hazard category. Of these, only once have I ever felt the RCM team had uncovered a potential hazard that was not receiving any PM.

My rough calculations tell me that the benefit of RCM over PMO2000 is the one new hazard found in 15,000 failure modes. 15,000 failure modes would consume 15,000 manhours with four people at a workshop running at a rate of 15 minutes per failure mode. Based on a 6 to 1 rate of analysis (PMO/RCM), identification of the hazard has cost 12,500 extra manhours. I would suggest that you find other ways to use that labour to make a contribution to site safety.

The third point is that the greatest safety issue surrounding maintenance is not the lack of a good PM Program but a lack of resources to do it and the big worry is the lack of resources to do the corrective action. You mentioned the Esso disaster. I would like to add to your comment that in this disaster a significant contributing factor was a lack of corrective maintenance not a poor preventive maintenance strategy. I read in the inquiry findings that it was known that there were many items in the plant that were not serviceable and the unserviceability of some of these items contributed to the scale of the disaster. This to me is an indication that Esso were carrying far too many failures.

The problem we often find with industrial companies is that when maintenance people finally get the plant, the corrective work consumes the time allocated and many times the PM is missed. We call this the vicious cycle of reactive maintenance. In short, high backlog of corrective work and high levels of unplanned failures leads to missing PM - Failed equipment almost always has a higher priority than PM. Missing PM increases the rate of unexpected failure and so the cycle gets worse. We have evidence of this through data collected from some of our clients.

A safety conscious maintenance engineer needs to get out of this vicious cycle, get on top of the backlog and get back into PM. To do this he needs to create productivity in his people (eliminate over servicing, task duplication and ensure that all tasks are done at the correct frequency) and find a tool that will get him that productivity and control quickly. If this is the road to a safer environment then PMO2000 will give you a much better safety profile than RCM will.

Proposition 3

"I was even at a conference where this vendor of an RCM type process said "With ( this type of RCM) you can identify 85% of critical failures in much less time than classical RCM" (read RCM II).............. The question I had to ask was, what are we going to do with the other 15% of critical failures?"

There is quite a likelihood that the presenter was me and if this was the case, I have obviously failed to get the point across correctly. What I intend to say at conferences is this:

When doing a zero based RCM according to the principles of Nolan and Heap, one is attempting to find all the failure modes that are reasonably likely to occur. This results in somewhere around 20 PM tasks for every one hundred failure modes (if you do RCM without skipping any steps). Thus 80% of the analysis time has resulted in "No Scheduled Maintenance". This provides little value if the objective of the analysis is to generate an effective PM Program. With PMO2000 we get less than 10% of analysis resulting in "No Scheduled Maintenance" hence the analysis time is more productive and the coverage six times greater for the same analysis time. The big point is that we get the same maintenance program out the other end, not 85% or 80% of it.


Finally, I personally regard RCM according to the paper written by Nolan and Heap as the greatest contribution to reliability engineering throughout history. I have a copy on my bookshelf.

The point that escapes most people however, is that RCM was originally developed as a design tool rather than as a tool for mature organisations with a mature maintenance schedules.

Therein lies one of the greatest contradictions to RCM being used in mature plants - the intended function of RCM was for use as a design tool yet people have for a long time, been trying to use it as a tool for improving maintenance in mature organisations.

For all those RCM Gurus out their, at Step 1 of RCM, functional analysis, we find need to redesign the process of RCM because it is being used in a manner that was not intended and is not capable of achieving a satisfactory level of performance because it takes too long.

If you have gotten this far, grab a Fosters from the fridge and have a beer on me for Christmas :-)


Steve Turner

PS Don't forget to download the papers from the web at

From Tony Ramshaw


A very interesting note and very much in line with my experience. It also fits in with a previous note of mine on the forum that you need to split out the real integrity items and treat them differently.

I used to work for Shell from the Hague who developed a simplified RCM process S-RCM many years ago. It works on many of the principles you describe and has been well proven over the years. It also consumes around 20% of the effort of RCMII and as a result gets used and implemented, so the benefits are quickly delivered. Again as you describe it involves the technicians so you get real practical input plus they learn the economic value of maintenance. It also has a strong focus on the business benefit of doing preventative maintenance, if there isn't any don't bother.

Tony Ramshaw
Head of Maintenance - Kvaerner Australia

From Stephen Young

Interesting comment Tony.

I guess it comes down to identifing all of the failures that could ruin your business or kill peolpe - or do you just a skim across the top to find some of the failures.

My information is that some within Shell are now thinking the S-RCM approach was not such a wonderful idea after all and in fact, has left them more exposed to risk and litigation.

I understand the issue of trying to find a quick solution in a world demanding immediate results, but that is a project management and analysis priority issue, not an analysis process issue.


From Tony Ramshaw


Thanks for the comment, agree with he general sentiment. If people in Shell are really saying that S-RCM is not such a good idea that is news to me. I don't believe you are exposed to risk if you look at integrity items separately and that is what Shell do using RBI and IPF.

The whole process is of course the intelligent application of business risk management. If you don't have the tools or experience to do this then you need to apply something like RCMII and FMECA rigorously. Even that does not fully solve the issue because unless you pick your teams carefully with the right experience you can still miss things. A very experienced facilitator is required and many of the RCM facilitators only know how to apply the method but do not have the experience to know if the answer makes sense.


From Peter Ball

Hi there Steve,(and Sandy 2)

You seem to be on the right track with your PM Optimisation.

Interesting that you also have described "Conventional" RCM, but it has integrated with Classical" RCM in terms of Long time and High cost. Several RCM Vendors would dispute this, especially those claiming that Streamlined is better than Classical.

I am very curious to know the root origin of the seven basic questions which appear to define the only RCM approach, and have copied them direct from SAE JA1011.


4.1 RCM-Reliability-Centered Maintenance

5. Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM)-Any RCM process shall ensure that all of the following seven questions are answered satisfactorily and are answered in the sequence shown as follows:
a. What are the functions and associated desired standards of performance of the asset in its present operating context (functions)?
b. In what ways can it fail to fulfil its functions (functional failures)?
c. What causes each functional failure (failure modes)?
d. What happens when each failure occurs (failure effects)?
e. In what way does each failure matter (failure consequences)?
f. What should be done to predict or prevent each failure (proactive tasks and task intervals)?
g. What should be done if a suitable proactive task cannot be found (default actions)?

To answer each of the previous questions "satisfactorily," the following information shall be gathered, and the following decisions shall be made. All information and decisions shall be documented in a way which makes the information and the decisions fully available to and acceptable to the owner or user of the asset.


I have spent many hours searching RCM documentation but without real success. These include amongst numerous others: MSG-3, Mil-Std-2173 (Mil-Hdbk-2173) both cancelled in favour of Navair 00-25 403 (current). These questions would appear to be the origin of RCM (Classical?) but who is to rule that there are other approaches, and decision diagrams, which can also be considered valid. Yes I have a copy of RCM11 and Yes ... the questions are there , virtually identical to those in SAE JA1011.

I am not suggesting that an RCM approach can be based only on Pareto Analysis, as alluded by Ron.

On your marks, ready..Set...GO!

Peter B.

From Kim Matulich


With all this talk of litigation it's amazing we don't have the company legal eagles doing reviews of their equipment strategies.

Stephen, in an economic downturn how do you convince an organisation to implement a thorough RCM process in comparison to say a TDBU approach to strategy development? I'm genuinely interested as a lot of maintenance decision makers I have met look mainly at the tangible returns (minimum cost, minimum project duration) rather than the projected expected returns of carrying out RCM.


Kim Matulich

From Ron Doucet

Steve, thanks for the rather long reply to my comments on RCM and RCM processes. I will address all of your concerns to what I wrote, and, back up some of my points for clarification. Given everything you wrote it will take a little time.

From reading some of Steves information on his site, his PMO process, which he does not call RCM, has more RCM in it that most streamlined processes that call themselves RCM. Steve though, called it what it is, a PM optimization process, not RCM.



From Jose Duran

RCM II is only another approach to RCM. for me RCM is RCM , the main differences between versions is how you apply it. I particularly think that RCM across all the assets is too expensive. We believe in the RCM risk driven (criticality, cost/risk optimization, etc.), where it is only worthwhile for high risk systems. There are several companies that have faced those costs yet and now they are performing a streamlined version of RCM


From Ron Doucet

Jose, actually RCM is a defined process with discrete application steps. It is not an approach. If you change how you apply it, ie take out some steps, apply it differrently, then by default it is not RCM any more.

Not to get hung up on this but RCM is a process that was defined by Nowlan and Heap in 1978. If you change that process, good or bad, (not to get in a debate right now), then it is no longer the same process and therefore no longer RCM.

It is amazing how alot of people critisize "clasical" RCM to varying degrees yet they all want those 3 letters in their process names. If someone has a better or different process then call it a different name and let it ride on its own merrit.

If you take the vodka out of a screwdriver (mixed drink involving vodka and orange juice), its not a screwdriver anymore..........its orange juice.

More details on that later


From Stephen Young


If the changes to Victorian (Aust) legislation (aftermath of Longford) go through parliament then we will have the legal departments taking a very active interest in how we maintain our assets.

On your second point, there is the myth that RCM is expensive when compared to the modified RCM approaches. It is just that - a myth and we often see rigorous RCM analyses achieving ROI's measured in weeks and in some cases, days. The key is commitment, proper training, good project management and sensible selection and prioritising of the assets analysed.

We consider it is better to spend your effort doing selected analysis that you can defend, and gaining all the benefits of that rigorous analysis, than putting your effort into an analysis which you know is not catching all failure modes that could bite you and which is not maximising the benefits. (A bit like repairing an item of kit - you can do a 'dash across the top band-aid' repair which gets you out of immediate trouble or, a more thorough job which restores the item to it's original capability. Often the time difference between the two approaches is minimal - but the benefits huge.)

It is at the end of the day, a judgement call, but we believe it is better to do the job well rather than spend a similar amount of time to achieve less benefit. There will be times when a very quick analysis may be expedient but to us, it is better to do a higher level analysis to identify where you are at risk rather than change the analysis process.

Selling the idea to your board should be on the same basis as selling a capital expansion or upgrade of plant to the board. You describe the need, the business case, the risks, the benefits to the company (and particularly the board), the project plan, the outputs and how you will measure your success. It works for our clients.

Kind regards

Stephen Young

From Trevor Hislop


When setting up a quality PM system in an established plant, it is usual practise to use a small area of the plant as the trial-horse. In this way, it is very easy for all to see the results and it makes it so much easier to then "sell the idea" to senior management, bean counters et all.

Can you do this with RCM,????

Trevor Hislop

From Ron Doucet

Yes you can. That is the approach we chose here at the Iron Ore Company of Canada.

AS you all know by know we went with RCM II for reasons that i have already mentionned and will mention further in by future responce to Steve.

To make it short.

Chose a pilot (actually chose too many as beginners in 1996 but that's another story)

That pilot was an automated rock crusher.

It was producing at 50 to 60% capacity. We need approx. 750,000 tonnes of crushed rock per year to maintain our haulage roads. It was delivering between 400 and 500 thousand at $6.00 per tonne!

Did an RCM analysis as a pilot. Pilots take 2 to 4 times longer than normal due to the newness of the facilitators and training (that's OK as long as you know it up front)

Total cost of the pilot was approximately $80,000 to perform the analysis.

Analysis stayed on the shelf for a while.

We are still producing at $6.00 per tonne

Someone suggested that we close the crusher and buy the stuff at $3.00 per tonne.

I suggested that they listen to their people who gave a lot of effort in using RCM as a process to determine the maintenance and operating requirements for this crusher.

They listened.

We implemented one suggested redesign, the operating procedures and the maintenance tasks.

For 18 months prior to implementation we were producing at $6.00 per tonne.

One month after implementation, yes one month, we were producing at $2.00 a tonne which at the time I was tracking it, was sustained for 16 months( and like the energiser bunny, its still going and going and going...)

End result: $3.0 Million dollar savings on unit cost per year, year after year.

An unexpected $750,000/year savings on direct maintenance costs.

So for a total of a one time $80,000 investment (today it would cost only $20K to $30K because we are much faster) we have been saving $3.75 million dollars per year since 1998.

So we want to reduce the cost of doing the RCM to get a bigger return? Is this not enough?

Another quickie, again using real RCM.

Now we are more experienced so things are going the way they should. RCM analysis on a dewatering filter of which we have 26.

Total analysis, using that long RCM II process took 13 half days with 6 people.

Total investment in doing the RCM analysis $13,100.00 (yes only 13 thousand dollars)

Total benefits based on changing one mtce task from fixed interval to on-condition: $310,066/year/filter

Total benefits (unit costs) for 26 filters was $8 Million/year

No benefits on direct maintenance costs as these are all small motors etc.

Benefits were realised by decreased unplanned operational consequences.

13 half days = $13,000 cost = $8.0 million per year benefit

What are we trying to speed up again? How fast do we want to go?

And to answer your question,

the company listened

One more note.

As you can see from above, the lion's share of benefits were unit cost decreases through increased the capacity of the assets. This was achieved by first determining what we wanted the equipment to do and then by detailing the most appropriate failure management policy that would decrease or eliminate the operational consequence. Processes that focus mainly on reducing direct maintenance costs will miss the big picture and the bulk of the benefits by orders of magnitude of 1000s. RCM II of course focuses on delivering the maintenance tasks, operating procedures, identifying the required training and detailing the required redesigns that will enable your asset to perform at its desired level and do what it is supposed to do.

I meant this response to be shorter but I guess its tool late now


From Kim Matulich


Which Victorian (Aust) laws are you referring to? What recommendations from the Longford enquiry are the catalyst for these changes?

I have a copy of the enquiry and would be keen to highlight your references for future justification.


Kim Matulich

From Jim Turner

Ron, dollars are good but you gave no indication of how it was done !! Lets get the before and after, where did you find savings? Bar talk is always good but lets get to the bottom line, e-speak is time is money etc.


From Ron Doucet


The savings:

For the automated rock crusher: The after and before:

750,000 tonnes per year produced at $2.00 per tonne instead of $6.00 per tonne = yearly savings of $3.0 million

Mtce savings came from one of the suggested redesign basically to go from hydraulic drive to electric and improved reliability. (decreased rate of failures due to maintenance and operational procedures.) those were $750,000 per year off the bottom line.

For an item to be maintainable it first has to be able to deliver its required function. In our case the hydraulic drive couldn't. This is one of the reason that a maintenance policy should be based on functions. this ensures that you maintain what the equipment does and not what the equipment is.

For the filter, the savings resulted mainly from going to on condition filter cloth changes. By doing that:

the clothes were only changed when they had to
it also allowed for planning and scheduling of the changes at times when the operational consequences were decreased
And it decreased the consequences of filter clothes being operated when they were inefficient which not only decreased throughput but also cost us extra in additives to maintain quality.

The $8.0 million dollars savings is all in the extra capacity enable through a different failure management policy for the cloths.

Even though we determined on condition maintenance tasks for the motors etc. which we previously ran to failure, You still have to replace the motor so there were no big savings there except for a bit of overtime.

We make our money by passing 12 million tonnes of slurry through the filter so that we can make our end product, iron ore pellets. The cost of the operational consequence is 10,000 times the cost of the failed components. Your bang for the buck is to focus on doing the right things, using the right process and enabling your asset to deliver its intended function. The biggest cost benefits are in decreasing unit costs. That is how most of us make a profit out there.

I hope this answers your question.

In terms of how the analysis was done, it followed the RCM II process from start to finish and then through implementation of the findings, as I said before, one redesign, the mtce tasks and the operating procedures.

Now I hope I have answered your question.


From Sandy Courtalin


I think you should have closed the crusher and buy stuff @ $3.00 per tone. A quick calculation shows that it is more economical to subcontract than to carry on running your crusher. In addition you save all your maintenance costs linked to the crusher and you can obliged your supplier to reduce its selling cost each year within a partnership contract.

About the suggested redesign, what was the cost to up-grade the crusher?

Personal thought about RCM....:

Sometimes we think that improvement are due to the using of a method like RCM. But at the end the problems pointed out and the solutions found were generally well known by maintenance operators or more generally by the whole operators. Maybe they just didn't have the possibility to report about it through a suggestion scheme for example. So in my opinion, before rushing in "revolutionary and magic methods", the maintenance manager should ask himself: Am I well using the resources currently available?


From: Trevor Hislop

Great reply Ron

Thanks for down-to-earth practical information. It's real world stuff !!!! Not dreaming in an ivory tower !!!

I am sure most forum members would like to hear of more practical examples with "real" figures from RCMMMMMMM !

Trevor Hislop

From Mick Drew

I think what Ron has done is outlined his recommendations from the RCM in the language of the business- this is essential no matter what method is used. If maintenance recommendations are aligned to achieving the business goal - in this case dollars per tonne thruput - then the recommendations have greatest chance of being supported by management.

In many cases however recommendations for changes to maintenance plans, redesigns, ideas from suggestion schemes etc are not connected in a logical way to the impact of failure and so the business impact. My experience in industry with maintenance improvement methods - RCM, TDBU, FMEA, has been that there is a scepticism from senior management about the investment of time and resources in methods which still come down to an individuals "judgement". Unlike RONS experience, some management would prefer to leave the RCM documentation on the shelf and simply take the lowest cost option. It normally then takes a charismatic champion to do battle to support the process.

Now, I have been using the RCM method coupled with computer simulation. This means the improvement tasks chosen can be simulated over a lifecycle, and the benefit to the business estimated in Cost of failure, failure frequency, unavailability, safety, environment and operational impact. This allows alternative scenarios to be compared- do nothing, versus "Optimum" versus "Optimum minus 20% cut in budget". The difference in expected results can be evaluated in hours. Management can treat the RCM program as any other business improvement process. Typically, the alternative sceanrios are presented to compare the cost of implementation, the cost of failures, and the risk of safety, environment and operational incidents.

This process overcomes the problems encoutered when "expert opinions" are challenged, when management are after business impacts and the get "promises" of best practice or believe in RCM its good for you after all it worked on planes.

The output of computer simulation is also useful for resource planning as it forecast manning and spares requirements for each scenario. Because today's knowledge is captured in quantifiable parameters it is possible to update from future equipment history so the analysis outlives the individual.

From Ron Doucet

Like I said, it was the manager who thought he could buy it for $3.00 a tonne.

Where we are that is highly unlikely.

Secondly if we were doing everything right we would be producing for close to $1.00 a tonne so I think were are going to keep operating the crusher. Even at $2.00 a tonne I'll take the $750,000 savings over that of a contractor.

By the way, the modification costs of the redesign were including in the total unit cost and the drop from $6.00 / tonne to $2.00/tonne still happened in one month and was sustained. It even amazed me.

With respect to your comments about "revolutionary and magic methods" All we did was apply a process, determine the maintenance requirement and implement (no magic). RCM is not revolutionary (been around for almost 40 years) nor magical. It is organised logic with sound foundations. The people who applied the process were the operators and the tradesmen themselves.

With respect to the people on the floor already knowing what to do and what is wrong, I agree that you can brainstorm and get a lot of improvement ideas. On the other hand if people have old fashioned views and ideas about the maintenance function, i.e. maintenance fixes things, then you could actually get yourself in trouble. You also can not show a process nor audit trail when it comes to showing due diligence. As you know showing due diligence and process is becoming ever more important as society's tolerance for industrial disasters lessen.

With no process somebody says, put a bigger "something" as a solution and you end up causing bigger problems elsewhere. These problems could have safety implications.

Anoth risk is when people come up with a solution of installing protection (outcome of HAZAOPs) yet the maintennce of that protection is ignored. You'll have fun justifying that tactic if an accident occurs due to protection not working and the maintenance was not addressed.

Many times the maintenance people only show up when something is broken so they do not know what an impending failure sounds or feel like.

Part of the process in and RCM II analysis is the change the way people think about maintenance and then it allows that changes thinking process to be used to develop the right approach for maintaining that asset.

People who have seen the inner workings of an RCM II session will agree with me that one of the most spoken phrases during an analysis, which is done in groups, not alone, is "hey, I didn't know that" from the operator, "hey, I didn't know that" from the maintainer and "hey, I didn't know that" from the supervisor etc. And Holy @#%$!, I didn't know that could happen!

I could go on about the benefits of groups using a well founded process and about the risks of doing otherwise. I will talk about that later, now I have to go home for supper.

Oh ya, one more thing. Most maintenance people out there believe that if we put the effort up front in planing and scheduling that the overall effectiveness will be increased. Our choices are unplanned maintennce vs planned maintenance. We chose planned.

The same applies to the gathering information. We can do it in a planned or unplanned fashion. Unplanned is an adhoc brainstorming or problem solving session which generates a lot of ideas.

The Planned approach is first educating people on the process and then using that process to get the right ideas out. The up front investment in using a process will make the overall exercise actually shorter, much like what planning does to a job, and it will ensure that the right ideas come out, much like doing the right job right.

Here is a story

In actual fact, I had told some people a couple years ago that they should use the RCM II process to address a potential safety hazard which had resulted in actual work refusals.

Two years later after many, many,many periodic meetings, problem solving sessions, consultant reports, involving lots of people, the problem was not solved.

Than I got a phone call, they told me to go ahead and try to solve it using RCM. 7 meetings later, 6 people per meeting, a good facilitator and the problem and corrective actions were determined. The people on the floor could not solve it before. Now the people on the floor solved it using the process.

I hope I addressed some of your points.

So again a lot of people on the floor have good ideas, but it does not hurt to actually get those ideas out, and more, by using a systematic approach. The RCM process will actually allow you to use your resources well so that you can answer yes to "Am I well using the resources currently available?

Now I'm going home.

Talk to you all tomorrow


From Sandy Dunn


I am not Stephen, but as I understand it, the new Victorian legislation which has been introduced has developed a new regulatory framework for workplaces which potentially represent "major hazards". At present, this consists of around only 50-60 workplaces in the State of Victoria, most of which are in the petrochemical or chemical industries.

The legislation requires these companies to develop a set of policies and guidelines (which have to have certain features) for identifying potential major incidents and minimising the risk of occurrence. These guidelines must be reviewed, and approved, by the appropriate regulatory authority. I would imagine that there will be significant penalties for those organisations that either do not comply by submitting appropriate guidelines, or who fail to follow their approved policies and guidelines.

This largely came about because of a realisation that the existing Occupational Health and Safety legislation, while appropriate for managing "minor" events, such as injuries and even fatalities, was not appropriate for managing major catastrophic events. The Longford enquiry established that the Longford explosion occurred despite the fact that Esso had in place a health and safety system that was considered to be one of the best in the world. Anecdotal evidence suggested, however, that the focus on site was on relatively minor safety issues (for example, employees were regularly encouraged to replace safety glasses that had scratched lenses), while at the same time, gas leaks (however minor) were generally treated by employees as relatively routine events.

Incidentally, Esso had intended (and planned) to conduct a Hazop on the plant that exploded for several (I think 3) years prior to the explosion, but this analysis had been regularly deferred, and had still not been conducted at the time of the explosion. The Longford Royal Commission concluded that, had this Hazop analysis been conducted, it is highly likely that this would have identified the potential risk, and that appropriate actions would have been taken to minimise this risk. Given this judgement, it is highly likely (in my judgement) that the regulatory authority would approve any structured Hazard identification and review process (including Hazop, RCM, RBI and others) proposed by these few organisations that are subject to the new legislation.

As an aside, let me add to Steve Turner's comments by saying that I, too, was an RCM II consultant and facilitator for almost seven years, and during that time assisted many of Australia's largest organisations to implement the RCM II process. During that time, my experience was that, for every ten organisations that started to implement RCM II, only one ever implemented the process on anything other than a "pilot project" scale. This failure is not because of any failing on the part of the organisations that tried RCM, nor, I hasten to add, was it due to any failure on the part of the consultant involved! I have recently come to the conclusion that, in contrast to the position that is put forward by John Moubray, Ron Doucet and others from the RCM II religion, the major problem is that RCM II (and by definition RCM) has NOT been adapted sufficiently to meet the needs of industry outside the airline industry.

Its major failure is in the way that it treats risk at a macro level. The reality is that, in the Airline industry, the consequences of major failures of significant components on aircraft are the same - 10's to 100's of people die, and the photographs are on the front pages of most major newspapers. In different industries, however, the consequences of major failures of significant equipment items vary significantly - in the petrochemical, oil and gas industries, there is a chance that perhaps 10's of people die. In the chemical industry, perhaps 100's or 1000's of people die. But in a semiconductor manufacturing plant, the major consequences are economic, and, in comparison, relatively minor. Furthermore, even within those industries, the failure of different equipment items have totally different levels of risk associated with them - in the petrochemical plant, for example, failure of a furnace could be catastrophic, but failure of the rainwater sump pump far less so. Because of these differing consequences, at a macro level, the amount of time and effort that should be devoted to identifying risks and possible failures should be appropriately different. However, the RCM process treats all such systems the same way - the same amount of rigour is required. I have heard it said (even by John Moubray himself) that one cannot justify applying RCM to all equipment items - some equipment items have such low impact on business risk that the effort required to perform RCM analysis on them is greater than the potential benefits. My question, then, is this - if we are not to use RCM to develop PM programs for these equipment items, what process should we use?

In my opinion, the PM Optimisation process outlined by Steve Turner, IS RCM adapted to suit the real needs of all industries. It can be as rigorous as is required to identify all potential failures, hazards and risks (a la RCM), but it equally can be quickly applied to give 90% of the benefits of RCM at a fraction of the cost, where the time and effort to perform a rigorous RCM analysis cannot be justified. It uses the RCM concepts (such as PF Interval, the Decision Diagram, etc.), but does not strictly follow the RCM process as outlined in JA 1011. If you want to get semantic as a result, and say that it is not, strictly speaking RCM - then that is fine. In that case, I believe that we have a lot to thank the team that developed JA 1011 for. First, it clearly identifies those processes that claim to be RCM-based, but clearly are not. Secondly, it now allows us to see what RCM really is - a rigid, overly rigorous (in most cases) process that may be applicable to airlines and some other high risk equipment items in selected high risk industries, but is complete overkill in most situations, in most industries.

For the record, I now assist organisations to implement the PM Optimisation process, with great results.

From Stephen Young


Thank you for replying on my behalf, but the legislation you mentioned is not what I had in mind when I penned my comment in my email of last week.

The state governments of Victoria and Queensland are both considering legislation to deal with "Industrial Manslaughter (Vic)" and "Corporate Culpability (Qld)" as both governments are concerned their current legislation does not adequately deal with industrial incidents causing death or serious injury. Victoria is leading the way after the Longford incident.

Importantly the concept of aggregation of negligence is introduced which allows the aggregation of actions and omissions of a group of employees and managers to establish that an organisation is negligent.

Both governments have made it clear that if managers and/or a management system fails to prevent workplace death or serious injury, then the responsible manager and/or management team is likely to face criminal prosecution.

Should the legislation proceed, penalties of over $500,000 and 7 years imprisonment are proposed.

Stephen Young

From Jose Duran


Now I see more people agree with me. I am working with RCM since about 6 years. I think it is not worthwhile to be applied in all the assets. it would take a lot of time and efforts, and the return on low criticality systems is so low. Despite that if you decide to apply it over all the assets, you should at least make a very good criticality study to do first the first. I mean than ,many RCM efforts have failed because the pilot studies were done in low criticality systems, of course low ROI after it. In process industry the assets could be a lot. A big mining company could have invested US$10.000 million in equipment (or more!). Ok, who dare performs FMEA in all of them!

We have developed an approach called RCM (+), we use RCM with several modifications to fit it into the non aeronautical industry. But we use that approach only for high and medium risk systems. We also developed another tool called RCM reverse to deal with low criticality systems (about 40%) that give you results quite good in a fraction of time and efforts that typical RCM studies.

Jose Duran

From Jean-Francois Ducrot


Jose, could you explain what you mean by "reverse RCM"?


J-F Ducrot

From Jose Duran

RCM reverse is a way we deveoped to study low criticality systems. It allow us to use RCM logic to verify if the current maintenance strategies worth. It is easy and fast, but it should be performed by really expert RCM facilitators.


From Sandy Courtalin


I think there is a misunderstanding about my thoughts about maintenance methods. I just tried to say that in my opinion there is no more than 15% of the world wide industry which has ever used method like RCM once. I know that RCM appears about 40 years ago but it was principally used by people who didn't care about the maintenance costs (army, aerospace) because it was about safety issue in a first instance.

I would like to say that still in my opinion, achieving "maintenance best practice" doesn't mean applying RCM, TPM or CMMS. Most of the time, companies don't have the skills or the resources to use these tools or don't have the budget. I think specially about small companies where it is common pratice to have a manager appointed with two hats "maintenance and production" and quite often the maintenance is considered as the fifth wheel of the trailer.

So, when they decide to consider the maintenance, you can't arrive and say "you shoud start an RCM approach". Maybe they need tips about service organisation, planning, shut-down... to achieve "best maintenance practice" to comply with their commitments. The maintenance policy must be defined from the strategy of the company and then find solutions in relation with the goals to reach.

Hope you have a better understanding of my thoughts.

Sandy Courtalin

From Trevor Hislop


I agree with you. I have worked with many companies to bring them out of a "fire-fighting" (reactive) mode and start them on the way to more effective maintenance. In most cases, they do not need a CMMS ,or RCM, or whatever, and they just cannot afford it anyway. I usually teach them the basics of a sound, simple, Preventive Maintenance program that they can start in one small plant section, e.g. air compressors. I also get them to give ownership of what is happening directly to one or two of their maintenance staff. The results are amazing! When proven, it is very easy at very little cost to expand activities to other plant areas. Remember Nero fiddling while Rome burned ??? Well that is what happens quite often when big buck maintenance enhancements are suggested.


From Peter Reed


I believe it is beer shouting time again.

Trevor/Sandy, what you are saying is the way it SHOULD be. Too many times we see companies spending huge amounts on TLA's only to wonder why all their maintenance woes have not magically disappeared. While the AP's etc of the world have great products they are still just that, products, not mystical methods for taking your problems away. It takes getting your hands dirty and talking face to face to solve the real problems with our respective plants.

We see time and time again where a proactive format, for doing work, yields results far exceeding any computerised program but we always seem to revert to these more expensive programs and I have theory on this:

The people, who sell these programs are very well educated and exceedingly knowledgable. They are also very good speakers and salesmen. Joe Bloggs the Tradesman is a mug (in the nicest possible way) and only has his hands on experience and gut feel to express his knowledge. Put both of these in front of a Production Manager, the Salesman with all the right words, the overheads and the glib ability to make you believe, the tradesman with his dirty overalls, course language and ability to draw mud maps, and who do you think will get the funds on the day?

What we need is a group of managers who can combine the results of the fancy suits, the flash presentations, the dirty scrawls on the back of a coaster and the vivid language and come up with a strategy that suits the needs of the plant AND the business.

I have been reading, avidly, the RCM debate, on this site, and actually took some of the E-mails to our trades staff to have a read. Most of these people had a glance through and then said "What they really mean to say is....."

Go figure!!!



From Ray Beebe

One valid reason for a company or plant taking up activities indicated in this long discussion as TLAs is surely to shake up complacency, such that real improvement results when people are jolted out of their "comfort zone"? Hence such actions as re-organisation, shuffling managers around, etc. How long should someone stay in the one position to avoid complacency? My own longest stay in the one post was 4 years, the shortest 1 year.

On a related note, mentions of "productivity" grate on me. I heard a senior manager describe how his power plant was run by such a very small crew of people that "they would all fit into this room". Nobody was brave enough to ask him about the numbers of contractors who performed the maintenance work, or those who, on contract, operated and maintained the water treatment plant, the ash handling plant, etc!.

The only important issue is surely how much is the total cost, however arranged, or perhaps better still for international benchmarking, the total number of manhours (Personhours?) used in performing whatever work you are measuring?

Season's greetings - and I look ahead to enjoying more of these debates!

Ray Beebe at Monash University (now, academic productivity - that is another issue!)

From Peter Ball

I love it!

I Just Love 'IT',

Good story came out of WW11, origin was a certain European General. He considered that the Allies had a real problem which affected their behaviour. If they were confronted with any situation not clearly defined in basic simple terms, they had to have a Meeting and consult the appropriate Manual. Europeans (on the other hand) were capable of thinking through their problems immediately, because of better initial basic training. Thus ... battlefield meetings were not often necessary.

We may see a parallel here with RCM which is, after all, nothing more than plain old "common sense". An attribute that was somewhat lacking in the country of it's origin, at the time.

Just go searching for MIL-STDs' pertaining to RCM, Logistics support, FMEA, etc. They raise them, work them, and cancel them with great heaps of paperwork. No small wonder the average workforce comments are ... !#@%^&***

Go figure ... I love it. (Beer and WINE also)

Peter B.

From Jean-Francois Ducrot


I'm sorry, Jose, but I have still some problems with your reverse RCM logic. It's obvious RCM is a very heavy approach for low criticality systems, and another way of doing could be very interesting.

But I can't understand how you make RCM simpler for those systems. Could you give further explanations on your methodology?



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