The RCM Solution

A Practical Guide to Starting and Maintaining a Successful RCM Program

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The RCM Solution

The RCM Solution

A Practical Guide to Starting and Maintaining a Successful RCM Program


Nancy Regan

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The RCM Solution is a straightforward, no-nonsense presentation of what RCM is and how it can be applied to maximize the productivity and safety of physical assets. It introduces and thoroughly embraces the proven power of RCM’s basic principles and follows a common-sense and practical approach to implementation.


A significant portion of this book is dedicated to SAE JA1011-compliant RCM. Yet, the author also introduces other asset management processes that embody RCM principles when the full rigor of RCM isn’t warranted. The RCM Solution therefore presents a total solution for implementing RCM in any organization.


This book will be an invaluable guide to anyone responsible for physical asset management, at any level of authority, from an organization's maintenance manager to the organization's leader.

  • The principles are presented generically and are equally applicable to any industry that has physical assets to care for, such as defense, manufacturing, mining, plastics, and power generation.
  • Besides, instructors teaching reliability engineering at colleges and universities will find this book a useful complement to their primary text.

The RCM Solution

A Practical Guide to Starting and Maintaining a Successful RCM Program
by Nancy Regan

Nancy ReganAbout Nancy Regan


Nancy Regan is the founder and President of management consulting firm The Force, Inc. She is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering.

As a U.S. Navy civilian engineer for seven years, Nancy completed Naval Aviation Maintenance Officer School. She served as a T-45 aircraft structural engineer. Nancy then became a team leader for RCM  at the Naval Air Warfare Center. She instituted the RCM program on Naval Aviation Common Support Equipment.

In 2001, Nancy founded The Force. She has accumulated more than 15 years of hands-on experience facilitating reliability centered maintenance analysis, conducting RCM training and assisting her clients with implementation of RCM programs. Among her many projects, she facilitated the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter (the U.S. Army's heavy lifter).

Nancy holds U.S. and foreign patents for a parts marking process she developed using her RCM experience.

The RCM Solution

A Practical Guide to Starting and Maintaining a Successful RCM Program
by Nancy Regan



Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) is a time-honored, proven process that has been employed all over the world for over four decades in nearly every industry. Because its principles are so robust, so powerful, and so versatile, the process has stood the test of time and human meddling. There are many RCM processes on the market that embody different approaches; many of them depart significantly from what was intended by the original architects of the process, Stanley Nowlan and Howard Heap. The basic principles of RCM have been criticized and manipulated because it is often wrongly believed that RCM takes too long to perform, or it’s too expensive, or all of the steps are simply unnecessary. This just isn’t so. RCM is a majestic process that gives an organization the opportunity to transform into a more safe and cost effective institution. However, the process must be performed correctly by the right people.


This book is intended to be a straightforward, no-nonsense presentation of what RCM is and how it can be applied to maximize results. The RCM Solution embodies minimal theory. Instead, it embraces the majesty of RCM’s basic principles and sets forth a very common sense approach to achieving powerful results. As retired British Royal Navy (RN) Commander and former head of the RN’s RCM program Andrew Matters once told me, RCM is nothing more than “common sense applied to physical assets.” In that spirit, this book espouses exactly that. The RCM Solution is intended to be an introduction to RCM principles.


Anyone who knows me knows that I am an RCM zealot. I sincerely believe that if an organization chooses to employ RCM, it should be done so correctly. Nevertheless, as I gained more experience in the field, I came to understand that RCM cannot be done on all equipment simply because there aren’t enough resources to do so. I also realized that not all assets require the rigor that RCM embodies. It was then that I embarked upon formulating less robust tools that can play a significant role in an organization’s transformation.

Therefore, this book introduces other asset management processes that embody RCM principles. But they are just that—other processes. They are not RCM and should be used responsibly—not as an excuse to use an alternative to full-blown RCM. The intention of this book is to cut through all the noise, marketing, and false information about the process and simply set forth the principles of RCM in a way that can inspire organizations in starting and maintaining a successful RCM program. I have facilitated RCM using the techniques introduced in this book on assets ranging from plant equipment, mobile ground equipment, to aircraft for over 13 years. What I know is that if the principles of RCM are used correctly with the right people, the results can be transformative. I have seen it first hand.

During my RCM practitioner training I asked a question of my mentor, the late John Moubray, when he was presenting RCM theory because I thought I detected an inconsistency in the lesson. He simply looked at me and said “listen to the music, not the words” and he quickly moved on. The lesson was to recognize the versatility of RCM. RCM principles are like the paints that an artist uses. The same paints used by ten different artists will produce ten different paintings. How the paints are used is what determines if a masterpiece unfolds. So too are the principles of RCM. This book comes from my heart. Its words are not only what I believe to be true, but what I know to be true. John trained his network members to be responsible custodians. He said it best when he affirmed “we are here to promulgate the principles we believe to be best practice and in so doing make the world a safer place for all who live in it.”


During another conversation, John described how RCM principles could be used better in a particular industry. When I asked him why they weren’t doing it better, he responded by simply saying “because they’re doing the Waltz.” When I asked him why they were doing the Waltz, he said “because no one is playing the Tango.” May I have this dance?


Nancy Regan. Madison, Alabama, May 2012;


The RCM Solution

A Practical Guide to Starting and Maintaining a Successful RCM Program
by Nancy Regan



The RCM Solution

A Practical Guide to Starting and Maintaining a Successful RCM Program
by Nancy Regan

1.         Introduction to Reliability Centered Maintenance

            1.1       What is RCM?

            1.2       Elements that Influence a System

            1.3       The Essence of RCM:  Managing the Consequences of Failure

            1.4       What RCM Can Yield

            1.5       The Evolution of RCM Principles

            1.6       The Development of RCM Principles

            1.7       Definition of RCM

            1.8       Defining Performance in the Context of RCM

            1.9       Introduction to the RCM Process

            1.10    Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and Failure Modes, Effects, and Criticality Analysis (FMECA)



2.         A Facilitated Working Group Approach to RCM

            2.1       The Team Approach to Accomplishing Objectives

            2.2       Elements that Influence a System

            2.3       Failure Management Strategies

            2.4       Historical Data and the RCM Process

            2.5       Effective Working Groups

            2.6       Benefits of a Facilitated Working Group Approach



3.         The RCM Operating Context

            3.1       What Is an Operating Context?

            3.2       When Should an Operating Context Be Drafted?

            3.3       What is Included in an Operating Context?

            3.4       The Operating Context as a Living Document



4.         Functions

            4.1       Why Write Functions?

            4.2       Two Types of Functions

            4.3       Classifying Functions as Evident or Hidden

            4.4       Composing Evident and Hidden Functions

            4.5       Information Worksheet

            4.6       Primary Functions

            4.7       Secondary Functions

            4.8       General Equipment Features that Typically Warrant Secondary Functions

            4.9       Tips Regarding Functions



5.         Functional Failures

            5.1       What Is a Functional Failure?

            5.2       Two Types of Functional Failures

            5.3       Composing Functional Failures



6.         Failure Modes

            6.1       What Is a Failure Mode?

            6.2       Failure Modes and the Information Worksheet

            6.3       Composing Failure Modes

            6.4       What Failure Modes Should Be Included in an RCM Analysis?

            6.5       How Detailed Should Failure Modes Be Written?

            6.6       Identifying Failure Modes for Each Functional Failure

            6.7       Miscellaneous Notes regarding Failure Modes



7.         Failure Effects

            7.1       What Is a Failure Effect?

            7.2       Failure Effects and the Information Worksheet

            7.3       Composing Failure Effects

            7.4       Writing Failure Effects for Protective Devices



8.         Failure Consequences

            8.1       What Is a Failure Consequence?

            8.2       Introduction to the Decision Diagram

            8.3       Classifying Failure Modes as Evident or Hidden

            8.4       Identifying Failure Consequences

            8.5       Safety Consequences

            8.6       Environmental Consequences

            8.7       Operational Consequences

            8.8       Non-Operational Consequences



9.         Proactive Maintenance and Intervals

            9.1       Proactive Maintenance in the Context of RCM

            9.2       Criteria for Assigning a Proactive Maintenance Task

            9.3       Scheduled Restoration and Scheduled Replacement Tasks

            9.4       On-Condition Tasks

            9.5       Combination of Tasks

            9.6       Synchronizing Initial Task Intervals



10.       Default Strategies

            10.1    Procedural Checks

            10.2    Failure Finding Tasks

            10.3    Synchronizing Initial Task Intervals

            10.4    No Scheduled Maintenance

            10.5    Other Default Strategies

            10.6    Important Notes Regarding Default Strategies



11.       Analysis Validation and Implementation

            11.1    Frequently Asked Questions About the Validation Process

            11.2    Implementing RCM Analysis Results



12.       How to Initiate—and Successfully Sustain—an RCM Program

            12.1    The Steps to Initiate an RCM Program

            12.2    Sustaining an RCM Program



13.       Frequently Asked Questions and Common Misconceptions about RCM

            13.1    RCM FAQs

            13.2    Common Misconceptions Regarding the RCM Process


14.       RCM Is Only Part of the Solution

            14.1    Two Fundamental Realities of Asset Management

            14.2    The Application of Processes Less Robust than RCM

            14.3    The RCM Solution



            Steps to Initiate an RCM Program

            Steps to Successfully Complete RCM Pilot Projects