I’m beginning to have a love/hate relationship with the internet. The technology that allowed me to launch a business and build a brand name for RCM Blitz™ has in recent years become a place where there is so much information it has become difficult for people to find good information.

Add to this the bombardment of information and misinformation that comes from social media sites like LinkedIn (Oops, I’m posting this on LinkedIn!), Twitter and Facebook and we now have a problem of making sure that the people who want information in regard to Reliability Centered Maintenance or Reliability Tools get good information.

As an example, just I was reading through a discussion some folks were having in regard to a post  titled; definition of Proactive Maintenance. As it turns out, it is quite clear that as an industry the field of maintenance and reliability has no standard definitions to terms we pass around like candy on Halloween. Looking at the ten or twelve people who made an attempt to define proactive maintenance it would seem that there are at least 6 different definitions. And, when I say different, we are talking really different.

Joe M. believes that Proactive Maintenance is work we do before something fails.

Steve P. thinks proactive maintenance is PdM.

Leslie M. says Proactive maintenance is using reliability tools like RCM and TPM to identify failures and eliminate them through precision maintenance or redesign.

Jared D. is firm in his stance that proactive maintenance includes everything listed so far.

Fred S. – the wise guy of the group, states he don’t like the word proactive, it’s over used so he would prefer we just say he believes in a complete maintenance strategy based on failure modes. Big Help!

If the dialog wasn’t confusing enough contribution number 14 comes in and states; “I have no idea why anyone would build a maintenance strategy around failure modes, after all a failure mode is a symptom or how we observe failure”.

My blood pressure is rising because not only has the discussion wandered off topic, what Mr. 14 has described is a failure effect.

Where in the world would someone come up with such a definition for the word failure mode?

The answer to this question as simple, just Google search the term Failure Mode and look at the results!

Wikipedia defines failure mode as “Failure causes are defects in design, process, quality, or part application, which are the underlying cause of the failure or which initiate a process which leads to failure.”

Another site uses this definition “A particular way, in terms of symptoms, behaviors, or internal state changes, in which a failure manifests itself. For example, a heat dissipation problem in a CPU might cause a laptop case to melt or warp, or memory mismanagement might cause a core dump.”


Hello??? Is anyone listening??? Where the heck did these definitions come from?

If I could make one thing clear, if you ever want the definition to a term that as used as part of RCM, please consult the original RCM document authored by F. Stanley Nowlan and Howard S. Heap.

Nowlan and Heap’s definition of failure mode, “The specific manner of failure; the circumstances or sequence of events that lead to functional failure.”

Does that sound like a failure effect to you?

Of course NOT!

Does the definition make sense?

Yes, and this might be because Stan Nowlan and Howard Heap knew a little about RCM before they began writing about it. When it comes the World Wide Web, the only experience needed is you need to be able to open a site like Wikipedia and enter a definition. And, when it comes to a term that is seldom used, and is industry specific, you can pretty much define it anyway you want. No experience necessary!

While the web can be a great place to learn one should always check the source of the information to ensure the information is credible.  Once you have a credible source, you should be able to find a solid answer.

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