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RCM, RCM2 and SAE STANDARD JA1011

RCM
RCM finds its roots in the early 1960s. The initial development work was done by the North American civil
aviation industry. It came into being when the airlines at that time began to realise that many of their
maintenance philosophies were not only too expensive but also actively dangerous. This realisation
prompted the industry to put together a series of Maintenance Steering Groups to re-examine everything
they were doing to keep their aircraft airborne. These groups consisted of representatives of the aircraft
manufacturers, the airlines and the FAA.
The first attempt at a rational, zero-based process for formulating maintenance strategies was promulgated
by the Air Transport Association in Washington DC in 1968. The first attempt is now known as MSG 1 (from
the first letters of Maintenance Steering Group). A refinement - now known as MSG 2 - was promulgated in
1970.
In the mid-1970s the US Department of Defence wanted to know more about the then state of the art in
aviation maintenance thinking. They commissioned a report on the subject from the aviation industry. This
report was written by Stanley Nowlan and Howard Heap of United Airlines. They gave it the title Reliability
Centered Maintenance. The report was published in 1978, and it is still one of the most important
documents - if not the most important - in the history of physical asset management. It is available from the
US Government National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Virginia.
Nowlan and Heaps report represented a considerable advance on MSG 2 thinking. It was used as a basis
for MSG 3, which was promulgated in 1980. MSG 3 has since been revised fuor times. Revision 1 was
issued in 1988 and revision 2 in 1993. MSG3.2001 and MSG3.2002 were issued in 2001 and 2002
respectively. It is used to this day to develop prior-to-service maintenance programs for new aircraft types
(recently including the Boeing 777 and Airbus 330/340).
Copies of MSG3.2002 are available from the Air Transport Association, Washington DC.
Nowlan and Heaps report and MSG 3 have since been used as a basis for various military RCM standards,
and for non-aviation derivatives. Of these, by far the most widely used is RCM 2

RCM 2
RCM 2 is a process used to decide what must be done to ensure that any physical asset, system or
process continues to do whatever its users want it to do.
What users expect from their assets is defined in terms of primary performance parameters such as output,
throughput, speed, range and carrying capacity. Where relevant, the RCM 2 process also defines what
users want in terms of risk (safety and environmental integrity), quality (precision, accuracy, consistency
and stability), control, comfort, containment, economy, customer service and so on.
The next step in the RCM 2 process is to identify ways in which the system can fail to live up to these
expectations (failed states), followed by an FMEA (failure modes and effects analysis), to identify all the
events which are reasonably likely to cause each failed state.
Finally, the RCM 2 process seeks to identify a suitable failure management policy for dealing with each
failure mode in the light of its consequences and technical characteristics. Failure management policy
options include: - predictive maintenance - preventive maintenance - failure-finding - change the design or
configuration of the system - change the way the system is operated - run-to-failure.
The RCM 2 process provides powerful rules for deciding whether any failure management policy is
technically appropriate. It also provides precise criteria for deciding how often routine tasks should be done.
Heavy emphasis on the expectations of the user is one of the many features of RCM 2 that distinguish it

from other less rigorous interpretations of the RCM philosophy. Another is the use of cross-functional RCM
review groups of users and maintainers to apply the process. With careful training, such groups are able to
use RCM 2 to produce extraordinarily robust and cost-effective maintenance programs, even in situations
where they have access to little or no historical data.
RCM 2 complies with SAE Standard JA1011"Evaluation Criteria for Reliability-Centered Maintenance RCM
Processes.
For a more comprehensive description of the formidable RCM 2 process, see John Moubrays book
Reliability-Centred Maintenance. To gain a better understanding of how RCM 2 works, consider attending
one of the RCM Training courses offered by the Aladon network.

RCM REVIEW GROUPS


The rigorous application of RCM 2 completely transforms the view that any organisation has of its physical
assets. Not only does it revolutionise views about maintenance but it also leads to a far broader and deeper
understanding about how things work.
From the viewpoint of the business which operates the assets, these changes are both profound and
profoundly important. They mean that assets not only become more reliable because they are better
maintained, but they also mean that operators are less likely to do things which cause their assets to fail. A
better understanding of how systems work also means that operators are far more likely to react quickly,
confidently and correctly when things do go wrong - a capability which is quite literally priceless, especially
in complex, hazardous, tightly coupled facilities.
In nearly every case, it also transpires that people who live with the asset on a day-to-day basis are an
invaluable source of information - information that transforms what would otherwise be an occasionally valid
collection of incomplete data into a solid, valid business tool.
This leads inevitably to the conclusion that from both viewpoints - technical validity and capability
development - it is folly not to involve the people who live with the assets directly in the application of the
RCM process.
However, before anyone can participate effectively in such a group, they need to learn how RCM works
(learn the language) and, more importantly, they need to come to terms with the paradigm shifts
embodied in the RCM philosophy.

SAE STANDARD JA1011


RCM 2 complies with SAE Standard JA1011: Evaluation Criteria for Reliability-Centered Maintenance
(RCM) Processes.
The standard was published in August 1999. It is a brief document setting out criteria that any process must
satisfy to be called RCM when it is applied to any particular asset or system.
Copies of this standard can be obtained from: International Society of Automotive Engineers Dept 3248 400
Commonwealth
Drive
Warrendale
PA
15096-0001
United
States
of
America
or
www.sae.org/BOOKSTORE/