The First Step in Productivity is Availability

Aug 18, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin (10) rolls out as Cleveland Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo (51) chases during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The First Step in Productivity is Availability 

Unlocking the value in your organization requires a close look at the relationship between the value your organization creates (output) and the resources required to create it (input). Many organizations measure this relationship using a ratio called Overall Equipment Effectiveness.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a term coined by Seiichi Nakajima in the 1960s to evaluate how effectively a manufacturing operation is utilized. There are two important aspects of OEE that many organizations overlook:  it is better to look at the components rather than the resulting product, and the first step in doing so is to look at AVAILABILITY.

The components rather than the product?

Overall Equipment Effectiveness is often simply viewed as good units produced divided by total possible units at the standard. If the standard time to make a widget takes one minute to produce and in one hour 30 widgets are produced, the resulting ratio is 30 good units produced divided by 60 possible units at the standard, or 50% OEE.

30 Good Units

________________________            =          50% OEE

60 Possible Units at Standard


The 30 widgets that were lost in the hour are the result of three possible causes:  availability, rate, or poor quality. Simply said, either the equipment was not available to run, it was not running at the correct rate, or it did not make good product. The solutions to these causes are very different, which is why it is so important to understand which component caused the loss.

The simple ratio of good units produced divided by total possible units at the standard breaks down further into availability – total time equipment ran divided by total time it could run, or rate – rate it did produce units divided by the standard rate, and finally the good units produced (defect free) divided by the good units it should have produced in the available time.

Lean organizations look at these three ratios separately to understand the cause of their losses and take the correct action to solve those problems.


Robert Griffin III, nicknamed RG3, is an American football quarterback for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League. He played college football at Baylor, where he won the 2011 Heisman Trophy. In the first week of the 2016-2017 NFL season, he was injured – a theme that has been very consistent in his career. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports summed up Cleveland’s position with its new quarterback, “the first step in productivity is availability.”

The same is true in manufacturing. The first and maybe most important step in creating value with the fewest resources is making sure the resources are available. Equipment downtime, long changeovers, waiting for material, and no crew are the leading losses that impact productivity. You can’t even make poor quality product at any rate if the equipment is not available.

The productivity of operations, just like athletes, starts with availability.

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  He is also the founder of UTV Advisors, a business consulting firm based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

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  1. Nice article, Patrick.

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