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Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) is a systematic methodology for preventing failures. This article discusses the history of RCM and describes the key characteristics of an RCM process, which involves asking seven questions. The first four questions comprise a form of failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA), and therefore, the article explains the approach of RCM to FMEA and the failure management policies available under RCM. It reviews the ways that RCM classifies failure effects in terms of consequences and details how RCM uses failure consequences to identify the best failure management policy for each failure mode. The article concludes with a discussion on some practical issues pertaining to RCM that lie outside the scope of SAE JA1011.

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