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Availability is part of the Reliability Strategy Development toolbox

What is availability?

Availability is a tool for measuring the percent of time an item or system is in a state of readiness where it is operable and can be committed to use when call upon. Availability ceases because of a downing event which causes the item/system to become unavailable to initiate a mission when called upon. In the simplest view the metric is availability = uptime/(uptime + downtime). For many other definitions see MIL-HDBK-338, section 5.

Why use availability?

The measure is important for knowing the commitment of time for performing the mission and it usually only involves the use of arithmetic.

When to use availability?

Often the measurement tool is based on past experiences and the complement of the measurement tool addresses unavailability to perform the task.

Where to use availability?

In design of a system it is a calculated value and in operation of a system it is a performance index that is often easy to use and provides and index that is understandable to the average person. Today there is a great tendency to "Enronize" availability metrics by using uptime metrics that presents data in the best light (an issue of data integrity) to maximize managerial bonuses by excusing (deducting) downtime from the calculations to put lipstick on the pig. Use the KISS principle. Think of availability in terms of the investor's typical year of 8760 hours. The no-excuse annual metric in hours is availability = uptime/8760. Suddenly you'll find a metric of great interest to investors that can be bench marked as a financial issue, and thus motivate the management team to solve real issues of importance to the business. Please note, you can have high availability but many failures and thus low reliability as availability ≠ reliability. Likewise, you can have high availability but little output so team the metric with effectiveness to get the complete story.

These definitions are written by H. Paul Barringer

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Paul Barringer

Paul Barringer, is a reliability, manufacturing, and engineering consultant. His worldwide consulting practice involves, reliability consulting, and training with a variety of discrete and continuous process manufacturing companies and service industries.

He has more than fifty years of engineering and manufacturing experience in design, production, quality, maintenance, and reliability of technical products. His experience includes both technical and bottom-line aspects of operating a business with an understanding of how reliable products and processes contribute to financial business success.

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