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RCM friend or foe

             Reliability on modern railway systems is more important today than ever before as the demand for performance and functionality continually increases.
             Many existing systems are struggling to achieve and or maintain the reliability targets being placed on them by users and set by operating companies; hence the need for reliability improvement plans has been identified.
             Reliability improvements can be addressed in numerous ways; design related simplification and improvements, procedure management & control to minimise human error and enhancements to the preventative maintenance to pre-empt failure, to name a few. RCM focuses on improving reliability and making maintenance more efficient by optimising the appropriate application of maintenance on the components that require it most.
             This paper will expand on these concepts and provide a process by which reliability improvements can be achieved in a practical and pragmatic manner.
             Initially we will examine the potential benefits of RCM, the delve more deeply into answering the question, what is RCM? The methods used in the RCM process will be examined and concepts such as apportionment, evaluated. The process involved in RCM is documented as a flow chart and likely deliverables from the process. Finally, the paper identifies the experience base with PMSC Limited and Suretech Development Limited to provide support in this area by an outline description of the some of the projects that we have delivered for our customers.
             1.1 What is RCM?.
             RCM is a process used to decide the optimum level of preventative maintenance on any specific component or LRU in a system. The aim of optimum maintenance is to maximise the reliability of the key components, which comprise the system being considered. If the maintenance inspection intervals are set according to the failure characteristic of the component, appropriate preventative maintenance of these key components will increase the operating life of the component and minimise its failure intensity.

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