Case History

RCM prevention methodology: case history

Increasing the reliability of machines and tools to increase uptime
RCM methodology

Business Context

Mediterranean commercial port

In this case history

The company

The client is a commercial port located at a strategic point in the Mediterranean, with good growth prospects, which had benefited from major investments from public and private entities. From the first months of operation, performance was far from what was expected, both in terms of services provided and the efficiency of loading and unloading containers from ships. This compromised the project in the long run and made reporting to the Boards of Directors of the financing companies and entities complex, which showed signs of dissatisfaction. The reason for the low performance was fundamentally the poor reliability of the port equipment: its frequent malfunctioning did not guarantee the operations needed to load/unload container ships.


The challenge

Action needed to be taken on thereliability of the equipment, which was inadequate to make the port fully operational. The challenge was to be able to intervene operationally and effectively on a high number of installed devices and numerous and heterogeneous technologies used. Another element of complexity was theextent of the area, which was very large and difficult to control.


The solution

Reliability Center ed Maintenance (RCM) methodology, i.e., reliability-centered maintenance directed at preventing accidents, failures, and shutdowns with potential various consequences on safety, operations, and efficiency in general, has been proposed and applied.
The RCM methodology was developed within aviation. Given the excellent results in a short time its use was extended to the nuclear power sector, military equipment manufacturing and generally in all industries. These are all areas where the failure of even one critical component is capable of causing very serious damage and consequences, capable of affecting people's lives, environmental conservation and invested assets.


The operational phase


Securing highly complex, high-impact facilities for the safety of their surroundings requires identifying clear criteria for prioritizing interventions and training a team that is able to apply them."


The goal of the RCM methodology is to preserve system functionality through a series of analyses and actions aimed at:

  • Identify the types of faults and errors capable of affecting system operation
  • Rank by importance the different types and their consequences on the value-generating subassemblies and components
  • indicate the most effective and applicable activities to control and avoid failures and error modes, to achieve ZERO INCIDENTS, ZERO FAILURES AND ZERO UNEXPECTED STOPPAGES. The 3 ZEROs concept, as it has been disseminated in the company, is not a trivial slogan but an intentional cultural stimulus to change the mental approach of the staff, from the general manager down to the last operator.


The first step was a thorough analysis of the systems present throughout the area, all subassemblies and their components, aimed at obtaining anup-to-date digital registry on which to be able to work out priority ranking and improvement strategies.
Priorities were prioritized according to the safety criterion, the productivity criterion (the facility must work) and finally the economic criterion (which solution costs less for the same yield).
The analysis carried out in this order makes it possible to select and prioritize the machines on which to intervene and to identify the most risky and important components, for which numerical redundancy should be arranged and a schedule of checks at fixed intervals.

Redundancy (i.e., "having more than one") is a safety measure that prevents, if one element is malfunctioning, the whole structure from being affected and is typical for alarm sensors.
Checks at fixed closeintervals mainly affect instruments whose perfect functioning is of great importance to avoid serious repercussions, such as the encoder, i.e., the counter of the revolutions of the drum that rotates to move the containers. If the latter, in fact does not work or goes at a speed different from the programmed and ideal speed, the risk of catastrophe is high.
The analysis according to the RCM methodology resulted in the identification of more than 1,200 unique critical components out of more than 30,000 analyzed and defined Preventive Maintenance Tasks (PM Tasks) to monitor the verification and control operations to be carried out and the related resources needed.

Finally, thorough and specific training dedicated to a selected group of the operational staff, tailored to the needs of the port, was planned and implemented. This final step enabled the organization to be autonomous in managing the efficiency and operations of the entire facility.


The results

Graph of increased uptime and reduced failures

Thanks to the application of the RCM methodology, failures have been reduced to 1/20 and pole operation has almost quadrupled in 4 years.

In particular, the graph shows the evolution of two phenomena: breakdown occurence and run time.
On the column in blue, on the left, one can read the trend in the four-month period of reference of the number of breakdowns per component (e.g., cranes, container handling system, loading system), which total 29 within the entire facility.
The column on the right, in red, shows the actual working hours of all machines in the entire facility (run time).
It is possible to observe how the strategy and methodological approach applied has led over time to a significant reduction in malfunctions and, therefore, to an increase in the efficiency of the facility, as it is less subjected to temporary shutdowns to intervene on breakdowns.
It is easy to understand this correlation by thinking about what it means to have a component such as the Super Panamax stuck in a commercial port due to the stoppage of one of the structure's components: it stops all other possible processing.


In complex facilities, excellent management and control of factors that can put operations and safety in serious crisis is indispensable."


Virginio Peluzzi - Partner ŌdeXa

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