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2.3 Reliability-centred Maintenance (RCM)

The first use of the term ‘reliability-centred maintenance’ (RCM) was in the 1970s subsequent to the discovery and development of solutions to aircraft failures in the 1950s. The term is now used to represent one approach to asset management. Regan (2012) defined RCM as follows:

Reliability-centred maintenance is a zero-based, structured process used to identify the failure management strategies required to ensure an asset meets its mission requirements in its operational environment in the most cost-effective manner.

(A zero-based approach assumes that no proactive maintenance is being performed to avoid biases towards what is currently done.)

Essentially RCM is the application of engineering principles to manage the consequences of failure. The RCM process has proved its worth in defence, aviation and mining industries for improving the reliability and cost‑effectiveness of maintenance activities (Luk et al. 2015). The use of RCM for ITS assets was raised in Austroads (2013a, 2013b). RCM was further examined in Austroads project AT1901 (Austroads 2016b).