FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
Team Fairchild Airmen are constantly challenged to increase productivity, decrease parts production times, and save the Air Force money while maintaining the service’s biggest fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers.
Various U.S. Armed Forces members came to see these efforts first-hand during a tour of Fairchild’s Maintenance Group Dec. 12. The tour was hosted in conjunction with the Department of Defense Maintenance Symposium held in Spokane, Washington, last week.
The tour highlighted Condition Based Maintenance Plus, Theory of Constraints and Airmen innovations, to not only showcase all of Fairchild’s accomplishments but to spread insights to benefit all services.
“CBM+ is comprised of a two-part plan: the first phase is identifying which components we need and which parts require maintenance. In the second phase, components that have a higher attrition rate are replaced. All of this stems from the mindset behind CBM+ of working proactively instead of reactively,” said Master Sgt. Derrick Brooke, 92nd Maintenance Squadron periodic inspection chief.
TOC is a management method designed to maintain a continuous flow throughout the maintenance process, and has saved Team Fairchild nearly 600 man hours and approximately $870,000.
“Theory of Constraints is a management philosophy, so it's all about focus, finish, and creating [an] efficient flow while using continuous process improvement tools to do it with,” Brooke said. “The idea behind TOC is to build your processes using those concepts, identifying constraints and then using CPI tools [to mitigate them].”
One major aspect of the process is ‘kitting,’ where a laser foam cutter is used to create a ‘kit’ containing tools and for each aircraft part that requires maintenance.
“Carts are rolled out with the foam pre-cut; for that task it says what certain parts and tools [are required] for the aircraft,” Brooke said. “This allows everything to come off and go back [on the aircraft] seamlessly, enabling Airmen to more accurately account for everything, potentially prohibit them from losing something on the aircraft, and [enables the maintainer] to have everything ready, avoiding running back and forth for parts and tools.”
Throughout the tour, maintenance Airmen showcased innovations such as a handheld 3D scanner device used to detect aircraft dents and a thermal-imaging camera that indicates issues within aircraft systems.
“The Air Force Repair Enhancement Program capability is a huge asset right now in the Air Force,” said Tech. Sgt. Jacob Kruskie, Air Force Material Command A-10 Thunderbolt Air Base Group support specialist and tour attendee. “With additive maintenance, you can use a 3D printer to create a switch for $.65 instead of buying the $17,000 part.
Through innovations and maintenance process improvements, Team Fairchild is continuously increasing its efficiency and cost-effectiveness to modernize the more than 60-year-old KC-135 to keep them flying for decades to come.