Reliability Centred and
Risk Based Maintenance
(RCM and RBM)


Josh Jordan

Josh Jordan

We all took a lot from the course. The overview I gained from the course is quite refreshing and the Environment Agency can see a new way of looking at things. It gave us an appreciation of RCM especially.

Verified by an engineer

Josh Jordan left school, aged 16, after taking his GCSEs and joined the Royal Navy as a Weapons Engineer. “As I progressed through the military,” he explains, “I gained a series of qualifications in electronic engineering, culminating with a degree in Electronic Engineering from Portsmouth University. When I was studying for my degree, I was at sea on a fishery protection vessel; working four weeks on, two weeks off. During the day, I was running the Weapon Engineering department with 24 people beneath me – then studying for my degree in the evenings. It was hard.”

Josh elected to leave the Royal Navy at age 32 and within a month was settled in his present role with the Environment Agency. “I’m classed as a MEICA (Mechanical, Electrical, Instrumentation Control and Automation) Engineering Advisor but primarily I’m an electrical engineer. I work for the Flood and Costal Risk Management team, based out of York. We instruct our framework contractors who maintain our generators, pumps and mechanical flood defences in Yorkshire and the North-East.”


Why the Reliability Centred and Risk Based Maintenance course?

“The Royal Navy has a very strategic way of looking at maintenance. It all depends on where the ship is and whether it is in a maintenance period or at sea. If you are at sea and something goes wrong, you jump straight in there with your screwdrivers to have a look, so that the ship can carry on fighting.

“The Environment Agency has a different view, particularly on maintenance of its flood defence equipment. Traditionally, flood defence equipment has always been over maintained. Every three months, equipment is stripped down and checked over as dictated by the manufacturer. But if you are performing three monthly maintenance on a generator that never runs, it is costing an awful lot of money, plus there is the possibility of introducing human error.

“When I left the Royal Navy and started my current role at the Environment Agency, the maintenance routines were explained to me: ‘We do this weekly, we do this monthly, we do this every three months,’ and so on. The equipment generally isn’t used unless it’s needed in a flood event. I wondered if that seemed like overkill. However, there was a desire for change within the organisation, so me joining the business was opportune.

“From the Environment Agency’s perspective, I was a fresh pair of eyes. I could perhaps help them to a new way of thinking. For me, I wanted to understand why these processes were in place and I knew this course would help.”

What was your experience of the course?

“It was a two-day course at IMechE’s head office in London and one of the things that appealed to me was meeting other delegates. I find you always get a lot out of meeting other people on a course – and it was true for RCM and RBM. There was one other person from the Environment Agency but not on the same team as me. The other seven delegates were engineering consultants, mechanical engineers from a company that manufactures large capacity pumps, someone who maintained conveyor systems at a waste processing company and other sectors. It was so interesting hearing their real-life issues and perspectives on reliability and risk.

“The trainer was called Matthew Laskaj and he was great – very down to earth, very easy to talk to and very knowledgeable. He really knew his stuff. To start with, Matthew used a PowerPoint presentation to lay the foundation of the ideas and after that we got into practical exercises. Matthew would give us a scenario and then we’d have to explain what sort of maintenance we’d carry out, why and what routines we’d put in place. It really consolidated the learning.

“In our sessions, we focussed more on Reliability Centred Maintenance. One exercise happened to be quite similar to a real-life situation at one delegate’s workplace. At his work, he wanted to carry out Reliability Centred Maintenance. However, his bosses wouldn’t let him turn the equipment off, as it meant shutting down the production line. Instead, he had to use Risk Based Maintenance. That real world perspective really helped our understanding and we were able to balance it against the textbook answer that Matthew provided.”

What are the key reasons someone should attend RCM and RBM?

1 “To change and challenge how you think about maintenance. You don’t need to stick to a specific maintenance schedule just because it has been written down that way in the past.”

2 “This course can help you reduce the number of hours of equipment downtime making your business more productive.”

3 “The RCM and RBM course will help your organisation use its maintenance budget more effectively. If you are selling a product, that will help your business become more profitable.”

What’s been the impact?

“I think we all took a lot from the course. The overview I gained from the course is quite refreshing and the Environment Agency can see a new way of looking at things. It gave us an appreciation of RCM especially but, as Matthew said, ‘You have to go back to your workplace and decide whether it’s actually something that you will implement or whether you just use some of the ideas.’

“In the Environment Agency, we can never take the risk of full RCM – flooding is a risk to life, businesses and people’s homes. We are not a money-making organisation, so we look at it in a different way. We currently use PPM (Planned Preventative Maintenance) and we’ve decided that this is generally the best practice for our equipment.

“However, we have already implemented some of things we learned. For example, since the course I’ve brought in oil sampling for some equipment. In the past, when it got to the three-month point, the team just changed the oil. Now we take a sample of oil every three months and, only if we see a trend, will we change it. That will probably be every two years, so that is obviously a lot more cost effective than before.”

Three pieces of advice you’d give future attendees

1 “Have an idea of where you’d like your organisation to go, then the cost will confirm whether RCM is feasible or not.”

2 “Try to understand your current position as a business and be open to change. It might be a new way of thinking in your workplace but it could be right for you.”

3 “Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Maybe complete RCM isn’t the right thing for your workplace but some aspects might be right for you. RCM is a big cloud of ideas; you can just take little bits of it. You don’t have to do the whole thing.” 

What’s next?

“I’ve got a lot of great qualifications but many of them are from military based courses and they’re not civilian accredited. So, I am planning to undertake more courses to be fully qualified in my current role. I’ve got a lot of management experience and I’d quite like to go into that once I have fully transitioned to civilian life.

“For now, though, I think I’ll stick with the practical side of engineering for a little bit longer – and get my head into the civilian and industry way of doing things!”

Reliability centred and risk based maintenance (RCM and RBM)

  • Duration:
    2 days
  • Location
    London, virtual classroom
  • CPD Hours:
  • UK-Spec:
    B, C, E