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News > Commentary - F-16 External Fuel Tank Repair Section improves operation with AFSO21 event
F-16 External Fuel Tank Repair Section improves operation with AFSO21 event

Posted 1/13/2012   Updated 1/13/2012 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Staff Sgt. Korvarsie Hicks
20th Component Maintenance Squadron

1/13/2012 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- AFSO21 really does work!

According to the Airmen of the 20th Maintenance Group External Fuel Tank repair section.

Back in April 2011, five Airmen from the 20th MXG took four days to conduct a Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) within their work area. This RIE was part of AFSO21's Continuous Process Improvement to increase efficiencies throughout the Air Force.

While the focus of the event was to reduce waste from the tank inspection process, the objective was to improve production while optimizing the use of the work area for multiple maintenance operations, as well as developing the ability for quick changeover of those operations.

The first thing the team did was map out the current process of flowing tanks through the inspection process. This particular aid allowed them to literally see the entire process from the acceptance of a tank, which requires maintenance, to returning that tank to the customer in serviceable condition. As a result, they were able to identify waste in unneeded travel for tools and equipment.

After they mapped out the current state and identified areas for improvement, they brainstormed and mapped out a future state. This included ways to mitigate the waste and inefficiencies in their current process.
The key to the future state concepts was placing tools and equipment at the point of use for the technician. They also fixed the building's air compressor which negated the requirement for using Aerospace Ground Equipment that is intended for aircraft use.

Lastly, they laid out the new floor plan utilizing visual management to help indentify tank flow from start to finish. The impact for the section was felt right away.

Sustainment is imperative to the success of any AFSO21 improvement. It has been eight months since the event and currently, the team has been able to reduce travel time by 65 percent and throughput of tanks from four hours to an impressive one and half hours. All that time culminates to a projected annual cost avoidance of more than $103,670 while returning 2,074 hours back to the Airmen.

The improvements that the External Fuel Tank Repair section is now realizing provided motivation to continue striving for perfection.
This all starts with the simple acknowledgment that with fewer and fewer resources available, the old way of doing business will have to be changed. If you believe there could be improvement in some aspect of your duties or work center and you want to enhance your productivity or increase your efficiency, please contact the 20th Fighter Wing AFSO21 office at 895-1497.

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