For asset-intensive organizations, maintenance represents a large portion of the balance sheet. Since its inception by Boeing in the 1970s, reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) has evolved to keep maintenance expenditures down while mitigating risk and boosting safety. With the arrival of the latest iteration of RCM, selecting the right asset management software has become even more crucial to unlock its benefits and help keep the lid on unexpected maintenance costs.
In 2015, RCM3 was introduced as the latest evolution of reliability-centered maintenance. It soon was employed by asset-intensive organizations in a variety of industries, from commercial aviation and defense to theme parks, wind farms and oil rigs. RCM3 sees maintenance moving into a "fourth generation," driven by advances in the Internet of Things (IoT), predictive analytics and industry standardization. These developments have the potential to revolutionize maintenance processes, helping organizations move from a traditional "fix when required" approach to a new culture of risk-based asset management by driving new operational efficiencies and improving plant safety.
Selecting the right enterprise asset management (EAM) software for RCM3 implementation is a challenging task. Maintenance planners look for a robust computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) into which they can deploy their current program. This system must be dynamic enough to incorporate a comprehensive risk profile of an asset-driven organization because senior managers and strategic planners want that C-level visibility in asset readiness and capacity across the entire enterprise.
To adopt an RCM3 approach and benefit from minimized risk, improved safety and reduced downtime, there are some key criteria you must consider.
Because RCM3 encompasses the ISO 55000 asset management standard, EAM software needs to span and record the entire life cycle of the asset, from cradle to grave, in one single database. This includes design, operation and maintenance as well as end of life and decommissioning, none of which are covered by stand-alone maintenance packages.
Various disciplines that support the asset must also be included, such as human resources, supply chain management, production scheduling, manufacturing and more. Embedded document management is critical for this, as it allows organizations to contain previously unstructured data — design drawings, plans and training certifications — in one easily accessible database, as per ISO 55000.
This embedded document management system can help streamline compliance efforts during health and safety inspections. Organizations can quickly pull documentation associated with a given asset and prove that maintenance overhaul or equipment installation was performed by qualified personnel or quickly react to unforeseen circumstances and prevent their recurrence.
Robust maintenance for asset-intensive organizations is essential. One obvious starting point is core functionality to enable different modes of maintenance, such as root cause analysis with clear yes or no answers that allow businesses to determine if a part or component presents a safety or environmental risk, or if there is a lack of redundancy that could result in downtime.
In an RCM3 program, advanced maintenance functionality needs to be straightforward enough for end users to use with minimal oversight. For instance, I revisited a client at an intermodal container terminal a few months after implementing a structured failure management (SFM) system across critical assets, including rubber-tired gantry cranes. The company had accumulated enough maintenance history within their enterprise solution to produce diagnostic information around crane components, right down to the joystick.
So, for example, when you receive a fault report on the joystick, the structured failure management system will ask questions, such as does it stutter before it takes off or does it slightly overrun when changing positions. Before simply calling for the technician to change out the joystick, the SFM will provide some options to address the problem. The answer may be to replace or just clean the electrical components.
The important point is that while EAM is a multi-faceted and powerful system, real-world users must be able to figure out how to use it effectively to reach the overarching business goals outlined by an RCM3 program. It's also key to check the user interface. An application suite with a mobile interface will enable supervisory and executive users to interact with the system using their device of choice when necessary, regardless of where they are.
Every organization operates uniquely and may even contain several divisions with differing business models. Underlying software must be able to accommodate and adapt to a broad spectrum of business models and vertical industries with various types of assets, regulatory requirements, environment considerations and risk profiles. In the post-implementation phase, versatility and agility will be key as the needs of companies evolve and change over time.
An EAM system should be able to capture data while equipment is running. The system should also encompass data from various sources, including SCADA and IoT sensors, and not just through proprietary data formats. Porting data from various sources into the database, which underpins the enterprise application, helps remove silos of information, providing an enterprise-wide view of operational data and saving labor-intensive data entry that also creates a risk of error. Without automatic data capture and in many cases mobile maintenance software that allows technicians to enter data at the machine, it is almost impossible to consolidate all the information required to make accurate, real-time operational decisions.
It is also important to consistently impose and adapt to standardization as new regulations are established, including the ISO 55000 and ISO 31000 standards contained in RCM3. This is critical as maintenance engineers or outside contractors at various locations or divisions can all work in sync with access to the same set of real-time information and to a consistent industry standard.
RCM3 expands on RCM2 by making asset portfolio metrics transparent for senior managers, so EAM software will ideally include the ability to organize and present operational data to the C-suite in a clear and actionable format. Decisions about productive assets involve risk, both financial and environmental, and senior decision-makers must be able to identify and manage this risk rather than simply engage in risk mitigation.
Asset management functionality does this by presenting visual representations of what-if scenarios, including the impact on assets from proactive changes as well as reactive internal and external changes. This will provide an overview of the risks of downtime, environmental impacts and threats to productive capacity.
Understaffing maintenance at a plant is an example of this. With traditional software, many C-level executives simply see the cost of maintenance rather than its business value and contribution to production. Asset performance software should go beyond simple reporting metrics and allow comparisons, such as comparing the occurrence of preventive maintenance activities against the failure rate, or maintenance cost versus production revenue or asset replacement. Only then will organizations be able to take advantage of the full benefits of RCM3.
RCM3 adoption is only going to grow as assets increase in complexity and capability as smarter devices continue to proliferate. Selecting EAM software with the versatility and features described above not only will facilitate the basics of reliability-centered maintenance but also the more overarching approach outlined by RCM3. Together, with the right asset management software, this maintenance approach can reduce cost and risk while preparing organizations for disruptive change and allowing the maintenance strategy to evolve with advances in technologies and methodologies.