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Aerial delivery facility improvements roll out 3,400 strong

By Staff Sgt. Daniel Bowles | Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs | June 09, 2010

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- After an arduous 5-year face lift, the roughly 50-year-old Aerial Delivery Facility here was recently released from reconstructive surgery.

Placing heavy loads on the backs of nearly 3,400 ball-bearing rollers, multifaceted improvements have brought an efficient process to workers and a safer, faster facility to the 437th Aerial Port Squadron.

Rolling out the 3,400
The recently rolled out renovation provides a seamless mechanism for efficient loading, repairing, rigging and storing aerial delivery bundles for training missions.

Whereas a usual nip and tuck costs six months of E-1 salary, this price tag came in at $1.6 million. The cost, said Ronald Westall, flight manager for Combat Readiness and Resources for the 437 APS, has provided something significant.

"If you can mechanize the process and use roller conveyors, it's much, much safer ... We can't quantify it yet, but we're confident our accident rate will go way down," he said.

Rolling up the doors, rolling down the line
Showing off the improvements begins even before rolling up the doors. From the exterior an obvious one is visible - the addition of a large, offloading area under an overhang.

The 3,400-roller train, which starts outside under the overhang, flows into the main facility now housing all bundles in a central location at ground level, eliminating the use of an indoor crane in a confined space to reach bundles stored vertically.

The ground level design offers a time savings, said Kevin Fitchko, quality assurance inspector for Air Mobility Command. Up to 50 percent of transfer time is saved by eliminating indoor crane use, he said. Instead, the new design allows bundles to be pushed faster by hand.

Rolling on with the mission
For the nearly 30 contracted employees of the Aerial Delivery Facility, the improvements mean an overall better way to serve customers - the aircrews who train to keep the aerial delivery mission rolling.

"The crews can't drop if they aren't current [on training]," said Mr. Westall. "It's like the Haiti drop. Those were our C-17s, and guess where they got the training from? Right here."

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