Why CBM is relevant for TPM & RCM Practitioners

When we speak about different maintenance methodologies, we often see them displayed on a maintenance maturity curve or a matrix. Each methodology is generally discussed as a stepping stone to another, or as a singular method to achieve certain objectives.

However, it is important to remember that maintenance approaches can be synergistic when applied correctly. Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) is a great example of a methodology that is particularly effective when used on its own, but is a fantastic support to other approaches. The best example of this is how CBM fits in with Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) philosophy and Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM) approaches.

Here's why practitioners of these methodologies shouldn't sleep on CBM and should explore ways to level up their approach.

Each Maintenance Strategy is Situation Specific

Historically, maintenance methodologies have been defined by their application to individual industries. However it has become clear that the applicability of TPM, RCM, and CBM should be considered on a situation-by-situation basis.  For instance, while very popular in the manufacturing sector, TPM is suitable as an integrated, holistic improvement system for organisations as a whole, whatever the industry.

The application of RCM and CBM is better determined by focusing on the equipment to be covered within the maintenance program. Critical, complex, high tech assets like gas compression systems, boiler / turbine auxiliaries and robots thrive under CBM approach for instance, despite being staples of the nuclear, offshore oil, and automobile industries respectively.

RCM is often used in more safety-focused sectors, such as the nuclear and aircraft industries, where maintenance management is usually extensive due to safety regulations. 

Condition Based Maintenance Complements Other Methodologies

Considerations such as safety, criticality, access to skilled resources, size and complexity of machines are all relevant to adoption of these strategies. CBM is not competitive to TPM and RCM - it can be complementary.  For instance - TPM philosophy is founded on the cultural ideal that operational and maintenance should collaborate and collectively manage the maintenance requirement. Condition Based Maintenance can support this outcome by providing rich information regarding prioritisation of work and real-time status of machine health.

When it comes to RCM which focuses on understanding reliability and  how each element of an asset (particularly complex machines) might fail, utilising CBM tools for your equipment can support decision making. Organisations can make more informed decisions, faster.

Both Total Productive Maintenance and Reliability Centred Maintenance philosophies place different demands on organisations. They also require different approaches and skillsets, however this doesn’t limit organisations from adopting CBM in tandem.

CBM in its pure form says that maintenance tasks and priorities will be defined by the CM systems. However how operators use the data derived from CM systems is purely up to them. The improved prioritisation, greater access to data and more detailed work order requirements that stem from CBM tools benefits operators using any maintenance approach. 

Maintenance Strategies Should Be Fluid and Adaptive

Ultimately, organisational culture, precedent and the benefits mentioned here are guides in selecting the appropriate strategy to manage machines. Just remember to be dynamic and adaptive in order to incorporate the appropriate strategy for the appropriate need.

By moving from a black and white, one-size-fits-all approach to a fluid, situational framework for maintenance, you are providing your organisation with a competitive advantage.


Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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