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NEWS | April 5, 2013

437th AW Airmen get “innovative”

By Staff Sgt. Anthony Hyatt Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Leadership from the 437th Airlift Wing visited multiple sections in the wing March 20 - 22, 2013 and highlighted five Airmen for their recent innovative ideas.

Captain Coningsby Burdon, 16th Airlift Squadron, Master Sgt. Greg Butler, 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Master Sgt. Glenn Hill, 437th Maintenance Operations Squadron, Tech. Sgt. Robert Charest, 437th Aerial Port Squadron, and Staff Sgt. Ryan Yeager, 437th Maintenance Squadron, were highlighted for their suggestions for improving specific processes in their career fields.

"Innovation is an imperative in today's environment," said Col. Al Miller, 437th AW vice commander. "The complexity of our national security missions, combined with the reality of constrained resources require our Airmen more than ever before to innovate creative effective and efficient solutions. The solutions strive to achieve established goals which align to nested organizational priorities."

16th Airlift Squadron

The 16th Airlift Squadron's process to manually track mobility supply items led to errors and insufficient/excessive inventory.

"There's not enough time or manpower to accurately track inventory items without inducing error," said Burdon.

Burdon introduced the TCMax inventory software program to handle physical inventory and streamline the issuing process in preparation for the upcoming 16th AS deployment. This software, paired with a wireless barcode scanner, could establish a new inventory concept of operations.

Burdon said, "We brought this system to the 16th Airlift Squadron for two reasons. The first is to track our inventory while eliminating waste; saving time and money. The second is as a proof of concept: so that other organizations can see the flexibility of this system, and consider using it in their areas."

437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

Aircraft from the 437th AMXS have exceeded the 1.2 percent repeat/recur rate for five of the past six months with an overall average of 2.6 percent, negatively impacting the overall health of the fleet.

The repeat/recur rate refers to discrepancies discovered in flight by the aircrew that happens again during the new flight (repeat) or within two to four flights (recur), according to Master Sgt. Gregory Butler, 437th AMXS AFSO21 program manager. The rate can indicate training deficiencies, experience shortfalls of maintenance personnel, insufficient technical data, or pressure to fly aircraft to meet flying schedule demands. It is an important indicator because it measures the overall quality of maintenance performed in a unit.

Their Set Improvement Target is to reduce controllable repeat/recur rate to 2.3 percent within 60 days and to further reduce the rate to 1.8 percent within a year.

Senior Master Sgt. Donald Sturm and his team (Master Sgt. Zach Moore, Tech. Sgt. Dante Holmes, Tech. Sgt. Christopher Holland, Staff Sgt. Christopher Jones, Ben Futrell, Bryant Rhone, and Holly Bergin), determined that the root cause for the Radar Altimeter Repeats/Recurs was because of a lack of support equipment, fault isolation step was insufficient, job guide operations check contains incorrect link for calibration and the radar altimeter was always on.

"The radar altimeter system provides aircraft height above the terrain to be displayed on head's up displays for quick visual by the pilot," said Butler. "Information provided by this system is critical on landing approach because the aircrew must have accurate information to ensure they have sufficient altitude for a proper landing or to avoid ground obstacles."

The root cause for the discrepancies with the weather radar was due to limited technical data. To address these issues, the team drafted and submitted AFTO Forms 22s.

Facilitators for this were Butler, Jay Lombardo and Tech. Sgt. Dennis O'Callaghan.

437th Maintenance Operations Squadron

The 437th MOS team, led by Staff Sgt. Matthew Mahoney, recommended the Digitized Jacket File initiative which freed shelving space and digitally archived aircraft history records, making it much easier to access and record aircraft history.

"The old practice meant physically storing the paper copies of each aircraft's history, document reviews and maintenance records in filing cabinets, which took up a lot of space and was labor intensive when they needed to access an old file," said Mahoney. "On average, each aircraft's file contains 25 sections and each section has approximately 40 pages of paper."

Mahoney effectively eliminated more than 51,000 pages of paper per aircraft.

437th Aerial Port Squadron

"The 437th APS recently had a series of discrepancies with personnel who deployed into the CENTCOM Theater," said Charest. "Discrepancies directly delay a member's contribution to the war-fighting effort in theater."

Charest and his 437th APS team members, Master Sgt. Serge Ladd, Robert Papizan, Staff Sgt. Zachary Gumulak, and facilitator Jon Kidder, were able to determine the root cause of the discrepancies - "out-processing is time consuming and confusing."

To reach their Set Improvement Target of zero deployment discrepancies, the team proposed a virtual out-processing checklist to reduce unnecessary stops and time to out-process.

In addition, Charest developed an in-house requirement database, which gives the unit deployment managers, members and leadership the ability to closely track the status of deployment preparation. They also integrated flight leadership earlier into the tasking process, which enabled the service member to be notified of a deployment sooner and issues/training identified and resolved well in advance of the deployment.

The team also suggested creating appointment times at out-processing offices to reduce wait times and out-of-office situations requiring a return trip. The process of notifying personnel of taskings immediately after selection was changed to help personnel meet qualification and medical clearance requirements.

437th Maintenance Squadron

Members from the 437th Maintenance Squadron determined that when owning work centers monitor schedule test measurement, and diagnostic equipment into Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory, members have noticed variations and bottlenecks in the scheduling and receiving process. The current average availability rate is negatively trending downward toward the Air Force minimum standard of 93 percent.

"The equipment has varying due dates for calibration, so items are constantly due for calibration for each work center," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Yeager, 437th MXS PMEL production control noncommissioned officer in charge. "PMEL now defines a customer schedule for drop off and pick up to ensure the most efficient and effective use of people's time. We also implemented a timely policy letter to further define the expectations from our customers."

Staff Sgt. Ryan Yeager, Senior Airman Jeremy Young and their team (Tech. Sgt. Patrick Howells, Tech. Sgt. Thomas Mahurin, Tech. Sgt. Curt Martini, Staff Sgt. Phillip Garland, Staff Sgt. Brooke Howells and Airman 1st Class Michael Sulima) suggested that infrequency of task and undefined methods attributed to non-standard work, poor coordination with owning work centers and all levels of leadership lead to awaiting customer pick-up and overdue status, and inefficient use of personnel and floor layout equaled wasted time and steps of multiple personnel.

"The Airmen of the 437th Airlift Wing have quickly adopted a culture of innovation," said Miller. "Empowered by leadership, Airmen throughout the Wing have suggested numerous improvements, increasing mission performance, saving resources and improving processes."

The AFSO21 Continuous Process Improvement-Management Tool (CPI-MT) is the central repository for AFSO21 events, projects and ideas. It provides Air Force process owners/managers, core team leads and members the tools needed for project management and strategic alignment, and has executive visibility, reporting and auditing capability.