An approach to maintenance developed to make air travel safer is now being used by asset intensive organisations to minimise equipment failure and downtime - by Ron Shaw, Project Manager, Soltius New Zealand.
Today we have an almost blasé attitude towards air travel, but in 1960s flying was a much riskier proposition. The first generation of passenger jets crashed at an alarming rate, due in large part to assumptions about the safest way to maintain and service the aircraft.
All components in the airplane, it was assumed, had a specific lifespan during which they would be safe. The component could be replaced or overhauled as it neared the end of that predetermined lifespan to ensure its ongoing reliability. Intensive engineering studies, however, proved this assumption to be fundamentally flawed – in fact, an aircraft component could fail at any time and the age of the component was not the determining factor.
This startling realisation led to the development of a new approach now known as Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM).