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Continual Improvement
Continual Improvement is defined as a process that includes continuous efforts to improve the standard of processes, services, or products. It is always striving to identify opportunities for improvement and making the necessary changes that will result in a better outcome. ISO9001 suggests that continual improvement should be a permanent objective of any organization.

The diagram below is based on feedback from various maintenance instances indicating the typical distribution between Incidents, Repairs, and Defects.

  • Catastrophic and Major Incidents are usually addressed through some form of Root Cause Analysis,

  • Repairs through troubleshooting whilst,

  • Defects are usually not receiving any form of dedicated elimination or improvement process.



RCMi proposes two forms of Continual Improvement

  • Failure Elimination process for Incidents and Repairs (A top-down )

  • Defect Elimination process for Defects (bottom-up)



(top-down multidisciplinary by maintenance & operations teams)

Failure Elimination requires the identification of incidents with high monetary impact and of a recurring nature. The Pareto principle is usually applied to identify recurring incidents which are then addressed by a team of multidisciplined personnel consisting of owner, facilitator, directly involved participants & technical experts.

The process usually commences with the definition of triggers to identify incidents without overloading the available human resources. The steps are:


  • INCIDENT SELECTION ($/recurring triggers)

  • RCFA (based on Cause Mapping methodology)

  • SOLUTION SELECTION (Cause Map outcomes)


  • REPORTING (companywide reporting)

  • ROI (companywide reporting)

The above is shown graphically below. Many RCAs are done just for the sake of it without the necessary implementation and tracking steps. RCMi proposes the use of the company EAM data to set the triggers, followed by software driven analysis and results tracking processes.




(bottom-up approach by multidisciplinary maintenance & operations teams)

Numerous inspections are done daily by the maintenance, operations and safety departments without the necessary logging and follow-up steps. The inspections are usually done using paper log sheets which could easily go astray or is only looked at when problems occur. There is usually no proof that the inspections were conducted or that the person even was at the specific asset.

Operator Driven Reliability (ODR) is a very useful methodology which makes use of operators who are at the assets 24/7 to conduct operational and low-level maintenance inspections. The 5-S methodology forms part of ODR with assets being cleaned and the workplace organised/arranged to ensure defects are easily detected.

A further contributing factor is for these inspections to be conducted digitally using inspection applications on mobile devices. These make use of elements which simplify the process and ensure that inspections are executed. Examples of these elements are:

  • GPS position

  • QR codes for asset identification

  • Date/time stamped inspections

  • Drop down menus

  • Checklists

  • Binary (yes/no) options

  • Images/videos

  • Comments/notes

  • Severity

  • Recommended actions

  • Signatures.

These applications generate defect logs with tracking and follow-up options to ensure that the defects are eliminated.


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