Team Fairchild innovates Cargo Deployment Function

Lt Discusses steps during CPI meeting

1st Lt. William Holmquist, 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron assistant installation deployment officer, writes down steps of the cargo deployment function line during a Continuous Improvement Process meeting, March 15, 2018 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. CPI is an increase in operational capabilities while reducing associated costs by applying proven techniques to all processes associated with fulfilling the Air Force mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samantha Krolikowski)

Team Fairchild members meet during CPI meeting

Team Fairchild members discuss new processes for the cargo deployment function line during a Continuous Process Improvement meeting, March 15, 2018 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. The overall goal of CPI is to eliminate waste. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samantha Krolikowski)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Airmen shout out ideas as a note taker scribbles them on paper, the efforts of their brainstorming covering each inch of the walls. Discussions about improvement for the cargo deployment function line jump from Airman to Airman as they work together to make a better process.

Team Fairchild members from the 92nd Medical Group, Maintenance Group, Operations Group and Mission Support Group met for a continuous process improvement meeting to develop innovations for the CDF line.

"The meeting was important because it allowed us to develop different options," said Ronald Coulter, 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron lead motor vehicle dispatcher. "We were able to identify some changes that would greatly improve the current process and increase productivity for deployments."

The CDF line begins when a request for cargo is submitted. Once the base meets the requester’s needs, it is then processed. The cargo is then palletized and transported to its destination. The process involves more than just paperwork; it involves preparing baggage pallets, marshaling and driving forklifts, weighing and measuring cargo and checking hazardous material.

Members of Fairchild saw an opportunity to advance the efficiency of the CDF line even further through continuous process improvement. The overall goal of CPI is to eliminate waste and increase operational capabilities while reducing associated costs by applying proven techniques to evolve Air Force mission processes.

“We spent a week observing and taking notes during the CDF process,” said 1st Lt. William Holmquist, 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron assistant installation deployment officer. “We looked at everything from timing to clutter, disorganization and communication to see what problems existed and the best way to find a solution.”

Members of the research team identified cargo as a key opportunity for improvement. Previously, CDF personnel had to locate and fix mistakes due to improper cargo packing techniques.

“Having a process that’s well-defined and understood by the whole wing will make this process simpler with fewer moving parts,” he said. “We will be implementing a quick-fix team from each unit who will be there to fix discrepancies without having to stop the entire cargo process. If there’s a discrepancy with one item, the quick-fix team can set it aside and continue inspecting the rest of cargo.”

The CPI team members incorporated the 8-Step Problem Solving Process to streamline the CDF, starting with clarifying and validating the problem. All issues identified during the CDF line were summarized, followed by finding the root cause and an analysis of each problem.

“The old process was identified as a problem because if we don’t meet standards, it can cause missed or delayed aircraft departures,” Holmquist said.

After finding the root cause of the cargo problem, the entire process was mapped out. While doing so, the CPI team categorized the steps as “normal processes,” “non-value added items” or “decision points.”

“We came up with many different solutions,” Holmquist said. “We worked out which ones were the most feasible and those with the least amount of work versus the most amount of reward.”

Thirty-five of about 50 non-valued steps of the CDF were removed. By changing the cargo transportation route, the CPI team cut the average accomplishment time by 50 to 60 percent.

“Changes to the CDF process have already started, however, some of the steps will take more time and money to implement,” Holmquist said. “Advancing our ability to be ready at a moment’s notice and having the right equipment, personnel and processes in place is vital to Fairchild’s mission.”

Every base is different from personnel, equipment, routes and transportation, but Team Fairchild members hope other bases will be able to utilize their new technique.

“Other bases can take advantage of the things we’ve applied and see if they can implement the processes we streamlined,” Holmquist said.