Could and should reliability be improved in your environment?

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Okay, you are an asset-intensive organisation, you have a need to improve reliability and productivity, your maintenance budget is not without limit and you’re trying to decide which approach to use. Here are some frequently asked questions about the Lean RCM™ process which may help you make your decision.

 I’ve heard Lean RCM™ takes an enormous amount of time and resource

People who say this either don’t understand how to conduct the process properly or if they do, they are not facing into the reality of the situation. Either you spend time anticipating how your plant might fail upfront and put in place control measures to avoid these failures, or, alternatively, you let the failures happen, suffer the consequences and then spend the same amount of time as you would have done analysing (5-WHYs) why they happened to root cause to prevent them from occurring again. Which would you prefer; suffer the pain and learn or avoid the pain altogether?

I think it’s a Rolls-Royce solution we just want to get back to basics

To some extent this is true; Rolls-Royce has deployed the process extensively on aircraft engines as have other aircraft manufacturers leading to unprecedented levels of safety and reliability in the industry. On the other hand, 75% of the tasks which result from a typical Lean RCM™ process are simple Clean, Inspect and Lubricate tasks normally done by plant operators as part of their day-to-day activities.

We are doing Lean so we don’t need Lean RCM

Wrong. Frequently practitioners of Lean don’t understand the importance of the partnership between operations and maintenance. They are not professionally trained in reliability best practice and therefore unknowingly overlook the importance of Lean RCM™ as one of the key tools in improving productivity. Lean is about eliminating all waste from the production process, but you can’t be Lean unless you are reliable and Lean RCM™ provides the elements so commonly missing from large-organisation Lean programmes.

We are thinking of doing TPM – will that give us world-class reliability?

TPM is a fantastic approach to engaging operators, maintenance and managers working together with the common goal of achieving maximum Overall Equipment Effectiveness. This team-based approach embraces many Lean techniques and results in operator-led autonomous maintenance schedules which undoubtedly improve reliability. There is one weakness in TPM which might explain why the aircraft industry uses RCM rather than TPM to keep you safe during your 18-hour, non-stop flight across the world. TPM talks about putting in place autonomous maintenance schedules but it’s very light in detail as to how to do this. RCM on the other hand, is a very thorough process for analysing why equipment fails and what methodology and frequency is optimum for detecting and preventing these failures before they occur. Often, those who use TPM find themselves with an autonomous maintenance regime that proposes “every task-every day” an unrealistic proposition and, one which can lead to increased failures due to maintenance-induced errors.

Lean RCM is a tool for the maintenance department, we are looking for operator asset care.

As we’ve already mentioned, 75% of the tasks which result from the Lean RCM™ process are operator-led asset care tasks focusing on cleaning, inspection and lubrication at optimised intervals. In fact, 80% of these tasks can be done with equipment operational rather than during the shutdown period. In addition, operators and maintainers work in partnership to identify visual management systems and error proofing techniques to make it Easy to Do Right Difficult to Do Wrong.

What are the outputs of the process?

  • Operator-led asset care tasks focusing on cleaning, inspection and lubrication performed at optimised intervals.
  • A revised set of maintenance-led tasks with emphasis on condition-based techniques and data analytics-maintenance interventions are based on condition rather than when the calendar dictates.
  • Many simple, yet effective, modifications to the equipment design to make it easier to operate and difficult to do wrong. These visual controls and error proofing techniques eliminate many of the current failure modes.
  • The identification of the correct set of critical spares which need to be kept close at hand for failures where prevention is not economic.
  • A much better shared understanding of how the process operates, the standards to be achieved and an integrated approach which links quality, safety and reliability

How is it delivered?

The Lean RCM™ process is implemented over a 3-month period by a multifunctional team taking part in a 15-day IMPACT Masterclass™ programme. The programme, facilitated by a qualified expert, begins with an understanding of the process and current levels of performance, builds a framework for how the process will operate in your environment and delivers a working system at the end of the three months.

What sort of results can I expect?

Implementing Lean RCM™, companies can achieve up to a 15% increase in overall equipment effectiveness, but you can bank on a 10% increase during your first phase. In addition, contrary to what most people think, Lean RCM™ reduces maintenance spend by implementing more operator-led asset care tasks and switching the focus of the maintenance team towards on-condition non-intervention tasks.

I’ve read about the Lean RCM™ qualification what’s the purpose of this

High Standards. Only a qualified Lean RCM™ facilitator can run the IMPACT Masterclass™ programme and guarantee, professional training, an engaged, motivated team and a set of meaningful results at the end of the programme. This is an externally accredited qualification demonstrating professionalism in reliability and Lean techniques which has been rated at ordinary degree level by the SQA. Additionally, team members participating in the IMPACT Masterclass™ programme have the opportunity to gain certification at Lean RCM™ Practitioner level; just reward for their efforts and achievements.

How do I get started?

Could and should reliability levels be improved in your environment?

Are you prepared to invest in your people in maintenance and operations teams to learn and deploy best practice techniques to improve performance?

We normally start with a short, management focused workshop explaining Lean RCM™ and demonstrating how the process will be tailored to suit your environment. Following this, the selection of an appropriate area, benchmarking current performance, setting up the team and start delivering results in your plant.


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