Hundreds of mirror segment, thousands of high precision actuators, highly complex mechanical, hydraulic, electrical and
other technology subsystems, and highly sophisticated control systems: an ELT system consists of millions of individual
parts and components, each of them may fail and lead to a partial or complete system breakdown. The traditional maintenance
concepts characterized by predefined preventive maintenance activities and rigid schedules are not suitable for
handling this large number of potential failures and malfunctions and the extreme maintenance workload. New maintenance
strategies have to be found suitable to increase reliability while reducing the cost of needless maintenance services.
The Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM) methodology is already used extensively by airlines, and in industrial and
marine facilities and even by scientific institutions like NASA. Its application increases the operational reliability while
reducing the cost of unnecessary maintenance activities and is certainly also a solution for current and future ELT facilities.
RCM is a concept of developing a maintenance scheme based on the reliability of the various components of a system by
using "feedback loops between instrument / system performance monitoring and preventive/corrective maintenance cycles."
Ideally RCM has to be designed within a system and should be located in the requirement definition, the preliminary
and final design phases of new equipment and complicated systems. However, under certain conditions, an implementation
of RCM into the maintenance management strategy of already existing astronomical infrastructure facilities is
This presentation outlines the principles of the RCM methodology, explains the advantages, and highlights necessary
changes in the observatory development, operation and maintenance philosophies. Presently, it is the right time to implement
RCM into current and future ELT projects and to save up to 50% maintenance and operation costs.