Let’s start by the conceived perception of availablilty.
Availability from the industry -any industry- point of view is the time when the asset is available for usage. In other words, it is ready and in idle situation. Then we plan to use it for a certain task for a specified amount of time.
It is better to have the asset available within the whole calendar time. However you plan the use of your asset, is it a 24 hour plan of a weekly or a monthly one, the target is to make the asset available for usage within the complete time cycle. The reality is that you need to deduce the preparation time, the cleaning time, the maintenance and the troubles time. All those times have their right to exist within the time cycle. Minimizing them to allow longer time for production doesn’t mean to compromise any of them. They are all equally needed to reach an overall satisfactory production level.
Be available to increase availability
If the conceived perception of availability focuses on the availability of the asset to be used, there is a punch of other items that need to be available to boost the availability.
From the maintenance point of view, is the asset available for maintenance? The asset availability for maintenance is one of the debatable points in any work sight. Does it mean that the asset stopped? Stopped and raw materials and products removed? Cleaned? Cooled down? All of this depends on the agreements in the maintenance plan. When? And how the asset is considered available for maintenance?. When the maintenance team is ready and the asset is not available then you cut down the maintenance team availability to do other tasks. So the task plan for 2 hours and the asset is not available for 2 hours from the planned maintenance time. Then the available time for the maintenance team decreases by 2 hours.
From the maintenance planning point of view, are the team, tools, spares and, supporting equipment available? Why? Because if any of them is not available at the planned time, the maintenance time will extend or cancelled. Both negatively affects the availability of the asset for further production cycles.
From the production point of view, are the raw material, packaging material, transportation facilities available? Why? Because the asset is not ready to produce when its intake has no feed. Or the final product is not removed to allow for the next product to come out
On the personal level, are you available?
This question can be asked in many forms and in different situations.
To be available means to make yourself available in the situation that needs you. Not different from the asset. The asset need to be ready to be available to do its function. You make the asset ready as part of your job. But primarily you need to make yourself ready to d the job. When you are prepared to do your job, this increases you availability. The difference between humans and machines is that machines need physically preparedness while humans need more preparations to be ready so they are available.
We need focus, knowledge about the job we are going to do, planning and organization and awareness. The machines don’t need all those attributes to be available. Maybe awareness of the surroundings are integrated in some new machines or robots using field sensors but anyhow this sensation awareness is limited and confined to how humans programmed it.
Your integration for this question depends on who asked it and the context of the question. Basically, in an organization it is conceived that you are available all the time for your boss requests and your job requests. However, you might not be actually available. Why? You are working on one of the other important tasks; whether someone assigned it to you or you had planned it as part of your job duties. The challenge is that you find a time for yourself when you declare that you are not available because you want to reflect on a task accomplished or visualize a task yet to come. Those moments that you want to have for yourself to reach clear thoughts usually slip away while you are in a never-ending “do”..
But, Do you really want to have time for yourself?
That’s a main difference between human workforce and machines. Both the team and the machines are considered as the organization’s assets. But the machine only has the doing cycle. While the production and maintenance teams needs some time to think, reflect and visualize. Otherwise the never ending “do” cycles consume us.
Sometimes we are afraid of thinking and visualizing because of the default mindset of worst scenario expectation. So I must be totally consumed in the do cycle to avoid the bad feelings associated with the reflections and visualizations. You might want to reflect back on your day, week, month, year, you whole career or simply the last task.
In fact, We are afraid of the negative connotations we give to anything past or future. Those talks we have with ourselves are the real tools of preparations. If we think about what had passed as a lesson learned and what is coming as a chance for preparedness. The real challenge is when there is a single viewing angle to the past or the future. This means that you feel confined only to one possibility. Seeing a variety of opportunities in any situation will ease our tension when reflecting back or visualizing the future.
When of the main targets of maintenance, operation and maybe the whole organization is to increase the availability of the production assets. However one of the illusions might happen when we focus only on the physical assets that produce sellable goods and we forget about the other assets. Under the other assets category you can list the physical and soft tools, the raw material, the transportation and storage facilities and the human working force. Focusing on our individual availability and preparedness for any task will boost the task execution and hence the physical assets availability. Preparedness is a key factor to elevate availability. So as we plan to prepare the machines and tools and parts we need to have equal effort to prepare ourselves and our teams. Our preparedness doesn’t mean our physical readiness it means also our emotional and mental readiness.
You can find more on the emotional side of the workplace in our previous chats: