PurposeThe paper presents reliability, maintainability and life cycle cost (LCC) analysis of a computerized numerical control (CNC) turning center which is manufactured and used in India. The purpose of this paper is to identify the critical components/subsystems from reliability and LCC perspective. The paper further aims at improving reliability and LCC by implementing reliability-improvement methods.Design/methodology/approachThis paper uses a methodology for the reliability analysis based on the assessment of trends in maintenance data. The data required for reliability and LCC analysis are collected from the manufacturers and users of CNC turning center over a period of eight years. ReliaSoft’s Weibull++9 software has been used for verifying goodness of fit and estimating parameters of the distribution. The LCC of the system is estimated for five cost elements: acquisition cost, operation cost, failure cost, support cost and net salvage value.FindingsThe analysis shows that the spindle bearing, spindle belt, spindle drawbar, insert, tool holder, drive battery, hydraulic hose, lubricant hose, coolant hose and solenoid valve are the components with low reliability. With certain design changes and implementation of reliability-based maintenance policies, system reliability is improved, especially during warranty period. The reliability of the CNC turning center is improved by nearly 45 percent at the end of warranty period and system mean time between failure is increased from 15,000 to 17,000 hours. The LCC analysis reveals that the maintenance cost, operating cost and support costs dominate the LCC and contribute to the tune of 87 percent of the total LCC.Research limitations/implicationsThe proposed methodology provides an excellent tool that can be utilized in industries, where safety, reliability, maintainability and availability of the system play a vital role. The approach may be improved by collecting data from more number of users of the CNC turning centers.Practical implicationsThe approach presented in this paper is generic and can be applied to analyze the repairable systems. A real case study is presented to show the applicability of the approach.Originality/valueThe proposed methodology provides a practical approach for the analysis of time-to-failure and time-to-repair data based on the assessment of trends in the maintenance data. The methodology helps in selecting a proper approach of the analysis such as Bayesian method, parametric methods and nonparametric methods.