What is Operational Availability?

What is Operational Availability (OA)?

 An indicator of the equipment’s reliability that is calculated for all machines, lines or cells.

 I.e., the probability that a machine is ready to run a quality part when needed.

 The ideal condition is to have 100% OA

Operational Availability is the foundation for all manufacturing. A stable process is easy to predict and equals consistent results.


Do You Really Understand Your Operational Availability?

For years, I would almost brag about my manufacturing lines and cell's stability. I would monitor Operational Availability regularly to understand my current capability and current situation.  My confidence was nearly unshakable. 

On paper, the availability of my equipment and manufacturing areas looked great. However when you begin to drill deep within the data and compare OA vs Throughput, the confidence I once had began to fade. When the pressure is high—due to many unforeseen conditions such as missing customer shipments or quality issues—the environment can change quickly. 

The pressure in manufacturing can be fierce at times. When times get tough and every minute of downtime is scrutinized, you will quickly find that the faith you had in your manufacturing equipment's Operational Availability was not as robust as previously thought. 

Over the years, I have experienced many humbling instances regarding the Operational Availability of my manufacturing lines and equipment. On many occasions during these less-than-ideal times, I found myself working overtime on the production floor.

While these times were high-stress, I worked closely with the manufacturing associates and teams to mine some very beneficial information. We discovered: 

    • The number of downtime instances that are unaccounted for
    • The importance of creating a standardized approach to identifying anomalies
    • How to use this actionable data to drive change
    • Nothing builds more trust then results
    • Eliminating the waste identified by the production associates builds trust and relationships


Are You Capturing All Causes of Instability in Operational Availability?

Are you capturing all causes of downtime? Working closely with the Production Associates, you can start to understand many types of incidental tasks and causes of downtime that plague the process. Over time these plaguing issues become normal and almost acceptable.

These high occurrence and relatively low downtime minute events destroy OA and allow for variation and instability to the process. Many of these occurrences are not documented to reflect the true issues and causes of downtime.

Furthermore many of these events allow for variation within the process or product that results in a Jidoka condition or No-Good Products. Time destroys this evidence and when these causes of instability and downtime are not documented it becomes difficult if not impossible to try and understand the conditions or events that had transpired in the past.

Ideally, we capture every event and document all the details for these events. These event details become gold as this information is needed to make data-driven decisions. These events capture crucial data needed not only for OA and Production Measurables but to also include specific timing and documentation that details each specific event.

Nothing becomes more frustrating when you are forced to understand all the details for an condition or event that has happened in the past and has not been identified or documented.

It's impossible to recreate events and specific details of these events to understand root cause when the event never happened. If it's not documented it never happened!

Causes of instability in Operational Availability may include:

    • Machine Downtime
    • Material Downtime
    • Fault Reset Go
    • Poor Changeover
    • Unstable Work Force
    • Adjustments
    • Absenteeism
    • Poor Execution
    • Poor Shift Change
    • Quality Issues (Scrap and Rework)
    • No Standards or Standards Not Followed

It's likely that you will identify special causes that drive downtime but are not captured. These events become ‘Normal’ and almost start to become justified as part of the standard process. Countless instances of Fault/Reset Go, Unjammed, Cycle Start, etc., happen many times throughout the day and may be overlooked and/or disregarded. 


Do You Trust Your Measurement Device/Method for OA?

Data is crucial when making decisions. For many years, I have seen decision-makers operate on emotions. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Whoever has the highest, emotion-based request gets the resources. But if you want to identify and eliminate waste, you need to replace emotion-based decisions with actionable, data-based decisions. 

When your process to capture events or downtime is too difficult and time-consuming, the result is poor decisions and poor behavior. If your method and system to capture downtime and events is not flexible and simple to interact with, your measurement of Operational Availability is less credible. 

Do you have a reliable method for calculating and capturing downtime? Without a consistent, reliable process to measure events and data, you will have no way to measure success.

L2L makes it easy with CloudDISPATCH--the software that names like Energizer and Autoliv trust to help them maintain operational excellence. Want to see how CloudDISPATCH can revolutionize your floor? Schedule a demo! 

Schedule Demo


Explore why 170,000+ users trust L2L

What makes L2L so unique is the fact that the product was developed by real manufacturing users. People that truly understand the day-to-day issues and concerns that drive the production floor.

kevin 98x98

Kevin Bryan


Let’s Get Started