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Availability Optimization


Availability is considered as one of the most important reliability performance measures of the
maintained system since it includes both the failure rates and repair rates of the system [1]. In todays
cost centered industrial environment it has become very much essential to optimize the availability of
the system to achieve maximum profit. Widespread demand for the availability improvement to an
optimum point has emerged in so many areas like manufacturing, communication, power plant,
airlines etc.

Availability is the parameter that translates system reliability and maintainability characteristics into
an index of effectiveness [2]. An important benefit is the ability to use the availability analysis as a
platform to support both the establishment of reliability and maintainability parameters and trade-offs
between these parameters.

Availability has various meanings and ways of being computed depending upon its use. Availability is
defined as a percentage measure of the degree to which machinery and equipment is in an operable
and committable state at the point in time when it is needed. This definition includes operable and
committable factors that are contributed to the equipment itself, the process being performed, and the
surrounding facilities and operations. This statement incorporates all aspects of malfunctions and
delays relating to equipment, process, and facility issues [3].

Availability can be defined in so many ways based on systems uptime and downtime measurement
methods. It should be noted that it is different from reliability in a way that a component or a system
is in a nonfailure state at the present point, though it may have failed earlier and restored to specified
operating condition. In general, a reliable machine has high availability but an available machine may
or may not be very reliable.

As the availability of a system depends on both reliability and maintainability, therefore both the
failure and the repair distribution must be considered to find system availability.

It has various meanings and ways of being computed depending upon its use. However, the basic
mathematical definition of availability is

Uptime Up t ime
Availability = =
Total Time Uptime + Downtime

Classification of Availability
The definition of availability is somewhat flexible and is largely based on what types of downtimes
one chooses to consider in the analysis. As a result, there are a number of different classifications of
availability, such as:
Instantaneous (or Point) Availability.
Average Up-Time Availability (or Mean /Mission/Interval Availability).
Steady State Availability.
Inherent Availability.
Achieved Availability.
Operational Availability.
Instantaneous availability: Instantaneous availability is the probability that the system is operational
at any random time t and is denoted by A(t).

Average Up-Time Availability: In many applications, it is important to specify availability

requirements in terms of the proportion of time in specified interval (0, T) that the system is available
for use. This is called as average uptime availability or interval availability.
A(T) = A ( t ) dt
T 0

Steady state availability: The study state availability is the availability of the system when the time
interval considered is very large. It is given by:

A ( ) = lim A(T)

Inherent Availability: The term inherent availability is mostly used in reliability engineering because
it is solely based on the failure distribution and repair time distribution. It can be viewed as an
equipment design parameter, and reliability maintainability trade-offs can be based on this
interpretation. It includes only corrective maintenance of the system and excludes ready time,
preventive maintenance downtime, logistics time and waiting or administrative time.
It is expressed as follows:
A inh =

Where, MTBF = Mean time between failures

MTTR= Mean time to repair

Achieved Availability: Achieved availability includes corrective and preventive maintenance

downtime. It is expressed as:
Aa =

Where, MTBM = Mean time between maintenance

M = Mean maintenance downtime resulting from both corrective and preventive maintenance.

Operational Availability: This definition includes all supply and maintenance delays as a part of the
unscheduled maintenance. It is useful when there is queuing for maintenance and backorders for
replacement parts. It is expressed as:
MTBM + R eady Time
Ao =
MTBM + Ready Time + MDT

Where, ready time = operational cycle (MTBM + MDT) and the mean delay time,
MDT = M + delay time
Literature Review

Sudden failure (Breakdown) of the machine is always undesirable and causes an increase in
downtime, which results in loss of production, higher maintenance cost and loss of customers too.
Therefore, most of the industries see availability as the most important factor to be taken into account.
With the growing importance of availability improvement in various industries, people started
spending too much to keep the system always up and achieve higher availability. However, it may
result in a decrease in overall profit.

As per Murthy and Naikan [4], it can be shown that the rate of production, and hence net profit, is a
function of plant/machinery availability. Also, plant or machinery availability is a function of
maintenance expenditure. That means extra availability can be achieved only through extra spending.
This is due to the expenses for reducing plant/machinery downtime through various methods such as
storage of more spare parts, application of preventive and predictive maintenance techniques, better
training of workers and engineers, usage of high-reliability instruments, computerized on-line
techniques, expert systems/artificial intelligence techniques, etc. However, it should be noted that
over-spending in achieving higher availability (especially at higher levels) may not always be
beneficial and can also result in net losses. Hence, plant/machinery availability improvement
programs should be carefully analyzed before taking any decision for implementation.

Das [5] has developed a multi-objective mixed integer programming (MIP) model taking account of
both the reliability and the costs of a manufacturing cell. One aim of his model is to create the basis
for a trade-off between system availability and system costs when alternative processing routes
involving different machines are available, the availabilities also differing from one machine to
another. There are two versions of the model, one of them for exponentially distributed reliability and
the other for Weibull distributed reliability. Various models of the relationship between availability
and maintenance costs have been presented.

Murty and Naikan [4] have developed an optimization model regarding the optimal level of
availability in terms of the costs associated with improving availability, assuming that the costs of
improving it increase exponentially with the level of availability aimed at. In this model, the profit per
time unit is maximized.

Questions pertaining to the calculation of performance rates can be raised concerning such matters as
sample size and the time spans samples should encompass in order for reliable results to be obtained.
Lamberson and Wasserman [6] have developed models concerning the relationship between sample
size, the occurrence of failures and the standard deviations obtained for different degrees of
availability. Their models are based on the assumption that TBF and TTR values have exponential

Baker and Henley [7] proposed a new heuristic-based method for optimizing system availability by
the redundant allocation for Hot or Cold Standby and Voting Systems. He developed a computer
program, Upgrading of System Availability Package (USAP), which assesses and upgrades system
availability when the component availability and system configuration are known. The algorithm is
based on cut sets, so both fault trees and block diagrams can be handled.

Ravinder et al [8] presented the thermal and economic performance of a 210 MWe coal- fired power
plant situated in North India. The economic analysis included operational activities such as
equipment cost, fuel cost, operations and maintenance cost, revenue, and plant net present value.
From an economic point of view, the effect of condensate extraction pump redundancy on net present
value was observed to be sensitive than boiler feed pump redundancy.

D. Panchal and D. Kumar [9] studied the behavior of the CHU (Compressor House Unit) of a
medium-size coal-fired thermal power plant using fuzzy approach (quantitative approach). The
system had been modeled using Petrinets (PN) and various reliability indices viz. failure rate, repair
time, MTBF, Availability , and reliability are computed at different spread/uncertainty level. The
results were helpful to the system analyst to analyze the behavior of the system and to plan
suitable maintenance policy for improving the system availability.

Ravinder et al. [10] presented the performance (availability) evaluation of a typical coal - fired
power plant in a realistic working environment for identifying the critical sub- system and
planning the preventive maintenance schedule. For analysis, the entire thermal system is
broken down into six sub-systems i.e., turbine, condenser, coal supply, water circulation, air
circulation and boiler sub-systems; these are further subdivided into a number of units. Formulation
for availability of each subsystem is based on well-known Markov birth-death process.

Aggarwal et al. [11] dealt with the performance modeling and availability analysis of the serial
processes in the skim milk powder production system of a dairy plant. The skim milk powder
system consists of six subsystems namely chiller, cream separator, pasteurizer, evaporator, drying
chamber and packaging sub-system. These subsystems were connected either in series or parallel
with each other. Two sub-systems namely evaporator and drying chamber are supported by a
standby sub- system with the perfect switch over devices and by assuming the non-failure of
packaging sub-system, the remaining five subsystems are subjected to failure. By considering
the exponential distribution of failure and repair rate of sub-systems, the mathematical
formulation of the model is developed with the use of mnemonic rule for these five sub-
systems and Chapman Kolmogorov differential equations were derived from the transition diagram.
These differential equations were solved by using normalizing conditions to compute the availability
under steady state condition. Finally, the performance of each sub- system of the system had been
analyzed for selecting the best possible maintenance strategies in the plant.

M.A. El- Damcese and M.S. Shama [12] investigated reliability and availability of a repairable system
with degradation facility. Failure times and repair times of failed units were assumed to be
exponentially distributed. There are two types of repair. The first was due to failed state, the second is
due to the degraded state. The expressions of availability and reliability characteristics such as the
system reliability and the mean time to failure are derived.

S. Fore and A. Msipha [13] in their paper demonstrated the effectiveness of RCM in identifying the
most appropriate and cost effective maintenance regime without any detrimental effect on safety,
availability, or economic impact. This was achieved through demonstrating the mechanics of
implementing RCM on a selected system of Ferrochrome Manufacturing Company. Results of the
study show that there is an improvement in availability to an average of 84% as compared to previous
availability of 75%.

Joe Amadi-Echendu and Chibila Ulaya [14] have presented a paper On Servitization and Maintenance
of Diamond Press Machines. This paper takes the practitioner view that servitization is also a major
issue for custodians, owners, and operators of diamond press machines, and argues that this could be
one of the reasons why increases in maintenance expenditure may not result in increased availability
of machines deployed by the synthetic diamonds manufacturing company in their case study.

Adel A. Ghobbar [15] proposed a new model for availability and maintainability in an MRO industry
taking a case study of European Airlines. Using ANOVA analysis, he concluded in his studies that, a
simulation model is a good approach for a new performance measurement system.

Naikan and Rao [16] proposed a model for steady state availability evaluation and optimization of a
production system having a large number of sidentical and independent machines. The proposed
model is aimed at solving availability modeling problem when no specific reliability logic diagram
RLD is required. An economic analysis based on net benefits (NB) has also been carried out for
deciding the optimum number of repair crews. The study shows that beyond a certain limit, increasing
the number of repair crews will not improve the availability considerably. An illustration has also
been provided considering a hypothetical case of a machine shop of a spinning mill with 50 machines

In some recent work, Rao and Naikan [17] proposed a system thinking approach for time-dependent
availability analysis of multi-component systems. In this paper, a hybrid Markov System Dynamics
(MSD) approach which combines the Markov approach with system dynamics simulation approach
has been proposed for time-dependent availability analysis and to study the dynamic behavior of
systems. MSD model developed in this work can calculate the point, interval availabilities with time-
varying failure and repair rates or which are user-defined distributions.

N. K. Verma et al [18] in his paper emphasized on Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) as a most
cost-effective method compared to other maintenance strategies. It argues that, in any industry,
initially choosing best maintenance strategy like CBM for a machine with information about its
failure rate, repair rate increases net revenue radically.

Barabady and Kumar [19] have extended the concept to availability allocation problem and defined
availability importance measures (IMs) based on various availability parameters. He suggested that
the availability importance measure of a component/subsystem is an index which shows how far an
individual component contributes to the overall system availability. The research study for a crushing
plant indicates that the availability importance measures could be applied in developing a strategy for
availability improvement. The subsystem/component with the largest value of importance measure
has the greatest effect on the system availability.

Rao et al [20] proposed a hybrid Markov system dynamics approach for availability analysis of
degraded systems. This approach combines the Markov model with system dynamics simulation for
the time-dependent availability analysis. In more recent work Rao and Naikan [21] proposed a novel
hybrid approach called as Markov System Dynamics (MSD) approach which combines the Markov
approach with system dynamics (SD) simulation approach for availability modeling and to study the
dynamic behavior of repairable systems. It mentions that finding the steady state condition is
extremely difficult or impossible using traditional approaches, however, it could be found using MSD

Liu [22] in his paper proposes a model which combines Tabu method with Genetic Algorithm to solve
the system availability optimization problem. He suggested that if this method applied in the initial
phase of system design and development, we can find the optimal allocation of component
redundancy number, reliability and maintainability levels to minimize the total system cost under
different configuration constraints such as weight, volume, and system availability requirements.

Sharma and Vishwakarma [23] proposed Availability Optimization of Refining System of Sugar
Industry by Markov Process and Genetic Algorithm. They modeled a system by considering Markov
process with the probabilistic approach and then the steady state availability is obtained by using
normalizing condition. To find the optimum steady state availability, Genetic Algorithm, a meta-
heuristic optimization technique, is executed with the help of MAT LAB Toolbox.

Zoulfaghari et al [24] proposed Multi-objective availability optimization of a system with repairable

and non-repairable components. A Mixed Integer Nonlinear Programming (MINLP) model is
presented to model the problem for availability optimization of a system using both repairable and
non-repairable components, simultaneously. To find the solution of proposed MINLP model an
efficient Genetic Algorithm (GA) is presented. Furthermore, to show the capability of proposed GA,
the MINLP model is solved by using a commercial software package. Experimental results in his
work demonstrate that proposed GA result in a better solution compared to commercial software.

Li and Xie [25] proposed Optimal Availability Improvement for Digital Switching Systems. In his
work, he applied both generalized reduced gradient method and genetic algorithm to solve the high-
dimensional nonlinear programming problem. Finally, a signaling system number 7 (SS7) is used to
verify the effectiveness of our optimization model and algorithms. Their investigations indicate that
GA can always be used to estimate an optimal solution, though it may not the global optima, and GA-
based generalized reduced gradient GRG may provide a better solution.