Review – IRCMS (Integrated Reliability Centered Maintenance System) by NAVAIR

This review refers to version 6.3 of IRCMS by NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command).

IRCMS 6.3 provides users with an aid to perform Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) analysis. RCM is a process by which the life cycle costs of performing maintenance on a system are compared to the consequences of not performing maintenance as well as other options. This is a free tool, available here. As it is free to download and test this tool, I will not go into every feature available, just what I have noticed as its strengths and weaknesses.

This Microsoft Access-based application provides multiple user access to the analysis package that aids in describing the system being analyzed, failure modes and effects analysis, and cost calculations for a variety of maintenance options.

NAVAIR RCM

Maintenance options included follow the NAVAIR RCM specification and include conditional maintenance, time-based maintenance, fault finding maintenance, routine servicing, as well as alternative scenarios. A risk or hazard matrix is included in the program to aid in determining the most severe situations and determining whether the maintenance actually improves the outcome.

All in all, this is a helpful tool at a good price (free!). If you are walking into an existing program and need to complete a RCM analysis, this tool can help you organize and complete that task.

There are several weaknesses to be aware of, however. The application is very labor intensive. Without aid from the contractor maintaining IRCMS, it is difficult if not impossible to import any existing data you may have. Almost everything will have to be typed into the database by hand often by engineers. With a system as complex as an automobile that is just about possible given enough time and money. With a system as complex as a process chemical plant or other industrial systems, you may require an army to get the data required into the software application.

Additionally, there is little in the way of system-wide summary information provided to let you know whether your overall project is on the right track or not. You have access to lots of information at the level of the individual maintenance task, but very little at the level of the system. In a large complex project, this kind of information is crucial to making the right decisions. Either you have to figure out how to retrieve the data via another application to perform that kind of analysis or go back to the IRCMS maintainers for consulting work. This is not exactly a simple addition to make, but there are other RCM applications that have more summary and graphing options available than IRCMS.

Lastly, while IRCMS is advertised as such, the application is very tailored to the NAVAIR RCM process. If you are employing a slightly different version, each step and each term utilized may not be what you expect. While this is not a huge problem, it can make the learning curve for the application a long one. The NAVAIR RCM course utilizing IRCMS is recommended if you are looking to provide meaningful analysis using this tool. As such, the implementation costs may be higher than the cost of the software alone would suggest.

Of course, as it is free, try it out and see if it can meet your needs for RCM analysis prior to moving on to the next alternative. But, keep in mind that a large amount of work performed in IRCMS may not be usable by any other RCM application out there. Unfortunately, that seems to be the state of the art in this area of engineering at the moment.