Reliability Centered Maintenance

Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) is a process that ensures the continuity of assets in homes or industries to function in a required way as expected by the users. The aim of this process is to introduce improvements in these areas, like safety, change in functioning procedures, and plans to minimize on the costs of maintaining an asset. As such, RCM enables users of certain assets to incur minimum expenses related to maintenance, asset uptime, and an enhanced understanding of the risks associated with the utilization of the asset. This paper discusses the characteristics and functions of a computer as an asset commonly used in homes and industries. The paper also describes how RCM concepts are applied in the maintenance of a computer and proposes an improvement plan for the use of the chosen asset.

Benefits of RCM Process in the Maintenance of a Computer

Computers have become common assets in industries, organizations, and homes; nowadays they control a big number of various activities. Computers control production processes, inventories and other tasks carried out by enterprises. Banks rely on computers to control deposits and withdrawals by customers, especially involving the use of ATMs to make transactions. Similarly, computers have found a range of applications in homes ranging from entertainment, home systems like temperature control to communication. However, computers are prone to breakdowns, failures and attacks from outside.  When such incidents happen, industries and home users can suffer great losses. Therefore, the use of RCM can ensure that computers remain in good working conditions and the costs of maintenance are kept at a minimum.

RCM process will equally ensure that computers used in homes and industries are kept safe from any attacks targeting either their hardware or software. The RCM process will help to identify all the risks posed by the potential areas computers are utilized in. In cases where computers are used to control sensitize processes, like production or withdrawal of money in banks, RCM process will be useful in identifying loopholes that can result in big losses to the organizations. In addition, RCM process will ensure that home users are provided with effective functioning of their assets in terms of communication and control of home systems, the failure of which can cause material losses or even people’s deaths.

Moreover, RCM process will ensure that maintenance costs are kept to the minimum by identifying critical functional failure modes and, therefore, proposing preventive measures before failures occur. Thus, RCM process will outline the predictive maintenance tasks needed to ensure that the computers continue to function as expected. In addition, RCM will enhance the functioning of the computers and reduce failure rates by proposing preventive replacement and maintenance tasks that are focused on the possible threats and failures the computer systems are exposed to. Furthermore, RCM process will be instrumental in detecting potential threats and propose maintenance procedures to alleviate those threats in addition to allowing for changes to the system operations including software, hardware, and other functionalities associated with the use of the computer (Chalifoux& Baird 2004, p. 11).

Operation Context

Computers perform diverse functions in homes and industries. However, the basic functions remain the same and only differ in terms of software applications that each computer is using. Computers fulfill a number of primary tasks in homes and industries. They are used in controlling telecommunication devices such as telephones, cell phones, and pagers. In addition, these assets operate with video and multimedia products. In communication, computers are used to send emails, exchange messages, conduct teleconferencing through the Internet, and create intranet within organizations. Secondary functions include control of processes related to production and manufacturing (Smith & Hawkins 2007, p. 30).

In analyzing the functionality of a computer that controls major operations in an industry, a decision tree will be used to assess the impact of the anticipated failure. RCM process will seek to address all the risks associated with the use of a computer or computer systems in controlling operations in such an industry (Smith & Hawkins 2007, p. 32).

A Decision Tree for Implementing an RCM Process

RCM Analysis of a Computer

Function

Functional failure

Failure mode

Failure effects

  1. Hidden failure

Application software allows the computer to communicate with and control other subsystems in the operation area

Unable to coordinate the operations and functions when prompted. Develops a time lag that can cause delays in production or communication

Software outdated or effected by a virus

Delays in controlling

  1. Safety

Computer security protocol

Fails to recognize unauthorized logins

Anyone can log in and get access to information within the system

Sensitive information is reviewed by unauthorized individuals and may cause loss to the organization through stolen data

  1. Operational

Computer applications control the temperature at which products are manufactured by the machines

Fails to control the temperature

Temperatures escalate in production room above the necessary levels

Damage to the goods in the production line at a cost of $1,000,000

  1. Nonoperational

Computer screen provides an input and output channel as the main interface between user and the computer

Computer screen burns out because of power outages

No communication between the user and the system

Disruptions in controls and direction of the system

  1. Non operational

Computer hardware such as cables may be destroyed by water, dust or fire

Computers stop functioning normally because a hardware component is destroyed

Failure in executing commands and requests

Non performance to the expected levels leading to delays in execution of commands

RCM Decision Worksheet for a Computer System

Ref

Consequence evaluation

Technical feasibility

Default tasks

Proposed task

H

S

E

O

H1

S1

O1

N1

H2

S2

O2

N2

H3

S3

O3

N3

H4

H5

H6

1

No

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Check software weekly

2

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Update login information weekly

3

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Replacement hardware components monthly

Critical Components of a Computer

Computer hardware is a composition of physical elements that make up a computer system. In essence, these physical parts enable the input and output of information into the system. Thus, hardware is the entry point into an information system and having secure hardware enhances the security of information stored in the system (Smith & Hawkins 2007, p. 34). Some hardware are removable, which means that they can be removed from the main system; this poses the risk of transferring security threats to the system if they are contaminated with viruses.

Software, on the other hand, consists of programs that control the operations in an information system and exist as ideas, concepts, and symbols. Some of the software installed in my system include: applications software such as my email address, operations software such as Microsoft Windows® Vista SP2, Internet browsers (IE and Google Chrome) and antivirus programs such as Sophos Anti-Virus.

Similarly, data contained in the system is composed of either processed or unprocessed data, which can help in making a decision by the user. Data includes statistics, pictures, and other forms of information stored in the information system; these data can be retrieved and modified by the user (Plucknette 2010, p. 9). Unauthorized users can delete or destroy data stored in form of files. Procedures represent the protocols the system administrator may assign for the system users. They include the use of usernames and passwords to access the information in the system. Procedures are the basic control measures against threats to the system information.

People using the information system form an important component of the system, especially if they have log in rights. As such, the possibility of changing the settings or even deleting files and documents in the system is very high if it is accessed by authorized users (Plucknette 2010, p. 11). Limiting the access rights of people helps in guarding the confidentiality and integrity of the system information, although people interacting with the system cannot completely be done away with.

Cost of RCM Process

Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) is a procedural process that outlines the organizations’ strategies for maintaining their assets. It is based on the reliable techniques that encompass known methods of analyzing procedures by looking at failure mode effects and critically analyzing the situation of an asset (Smith & Hawkins 2007, p. 21). Therefore, RCM procedures must take into consideration the main objectives of a maintenance program that an organization wishes to implement. These objectives include: the need to minimize on the costs associated with the use of the asset, the need to adhere to the safety and environmental minimums, and the need to meet goals through operations and processes.

The advantage of implementing an RCM process in the use of an asset is that it starts with a failure mode and effect analysis that helps in identifying the critical parts that can cause failure during the use of the asset through a systematic and structured manner. This ensures that everything that concerns the use of the asset is put under consideration. Therefore, the RCM process demands that the examination of every critical failure mode is performed in order to establish the most advantageous maintenance policy that can lower the severity of each failure.

The RCM process, thus, requires that the selected strategy for maintenance considers the costs involved in implementing the process, safety measures that are put in place, environmental impacts both to the people and to the place of work, and operational consequences that an organization is going to incur on its activities. Similarly, the effects of idleness, spares costs, maintenance crew costs, equipment ageing and repair times are also to be taken into account together with many other parameters.

Once most advantageous continuance policies have been recorded, the RCM process provides system performance indicators and related costs together with the expected spares requirements and maintenance staff that control the required levels. The RCM process can provide a channel to develop a robust strategy with the prototype updated when more information comes up in the system or in the case new designs become necessary.

The success of the RCM process depends on the ability to estimate the costs involved in keeping the system in a desirable condition. In the case of a computer system, if the costs involved in acquiring and maintaining the computer exceed the expected benefits, then an organization or home user should consider implementing an alternative system (ReliaSoft 2012, p. 2). However, computers have simplified the way things are performed; thus, having a properly executed RCM process, a computer system will definitely yield more than the involved costs. As such, analysts of an RCM process must include important information before embarking on the process of implementing it. One should thoroughly analyze the period of time a computer is going to operate before repair is conducted or the rate at which new hardware is added or software updated (Moubray 2001, p. 23).

In addition, there should be an evaluation of probability density function, which indicates the probability that a computer system will fail because of an identifiable or anticipated failure cause. The ability to detect this imminent failure is also important in proposing the preventive mechanisms within the system. Furthermore, knowing the expected time of the system operating before breakdown is important in planning alternative arrangements; the case of a computer asset implies having backup systems that will ensure the activities in the industry do not come to a standstill. This also includes the time that the analysts expect to take while maintaining the system as well as the logical delays in the operation of the organization. 

Similarly, the RCM process must consider the potential costs incurred in terms of labor, downtime, materials for repair and other related costs. A final consideration should be the level to which the system will be brought to functional again given the fact that it had failed. That is, RCM ensures that the system is brought to a certain level of functionality that matches the performance of the system prior to the failure (Moubray 2001, p. 21).

Conclusion

The RCM process tries to enhance the functionality of assets that an organization or home user utilizes. However, the understanding of procedures and costs involved in implementing a good RCM process is important in ensuring that the process does not turn out as an even more expensive affair to the user to the point where the user can no longer derive benefit from the use of the asset. This can easily be achieved by having a properly executed process with each step evaluated to ensure that the RCM process is in line with the requirements of the user. The ability to keep the costs of implementing the RCM process is vital in ensuring that the user derives optimum benefit from the process.

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