Managing the introduction of reliability-centred maintenance, RCM : RCM as a method of working within hydropower organisations

Abstract: Due to a competitive environment, many companies are required to reduce their overall costs while maintaining the value and reliability of their assets. The use of Reliability-Centred Maintenance, RCM, can support organisations to develop an effective and efficient maintenance programme, meeting these requirements in a cost-effective manner. RCM basically combines different techniques and tools, in a systematic approach to managing risks, as a basis for maintenance decisions. When introducing RCM with the aim of changing the overall way of working with maintenance in the organisation, i.e. on a full-scale basis, a long- term introduction approach should preferably be used. In addition to improve the performance of the assets, this approach uses RCM to improve knowledge, motivation and teamwork among the personnel. In that way, the approach could promote commitment of managers and employees, making an RCM based maintenance programme far more likely to endure. However, in several cases, organisations have experienced severe difficulties when introducing RCM on full-scale basis. Some of the reasons are technical in nature, but the majority are managerial obstacles. In the research project presented in this thesis, an aim has been to obtain a better understanding of why some organisations experience a cumbersome introduction of RCM. A focus has been to identify managerial factors that affect an RCM introduction in form of obstacles and driving forces. In the research project, a longitudinal single-case study has been performed during 1997 - 2003, studying the efforts towards an RCM introduction in a Swedish hydropower company. Many of the findings in the single-case study have been validated by a multiple-case study, including three other hydropower organisations introducing RCM. The findings are basically different kinds of managerial factors. These factors could be managed within four management perspectives, which points out the need of a holistic approach when managing RCM introduction. An RCM introduction process has also been identified during the research, where the managerial factors can be structured according to different phases. Based on these findings, an RCM introduction strategy framework has been developed, with the aim to facilitate for organisations going to introduce RCM. The strategy framework is structured according to the different phases in the RCM introduction process, with requirements and recommendations to be considered in each phase.