564th AMXS Kitting Office is big business

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

With 150 personnel, six different shops, and the motto “You get it to the door, we’ll get it to the floor”, the 564th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s Kitting Office is big business. The kitting team is responsible for the production, inspection, repair and organization of removed KC-135 aircraft parts. The kitting facility creates and delivers 116 unique kits, consisting of 2,528 parts that are removed from every AC in depot for programmed depot maintenance services. The idea of kitting items is to maximize mechanic touch time and eliminate waste while providing a quality product in support of mission requirement. A robust kitting program is an essential element for optimizing production performance.

When kitting first began in 2009, the depot produced 47 KC-135 aircraft. In the past eight years the workload for KC-135 PDM has nearly doubled with annual requirements averaging 72 to 75 outputs. To build capacity, KC-135’s turned to kitting to maximize efficiency. The 150 personnel team is built with subject matter experts who enable the production, inspection, repair and organization of KC-135 aircraft parts. The kitting SMEs then work with their production counterparts to organize kits that once delivered to the dock provide install mechanic’s everything needed to complete the task with maximum efficiency.

The squadron has been able to produce more aircraft without increasing infrastructure because of the efficiencies gained through this parallel operation. An example of a successful process that has been kitted is terminal fittings. In 2009 Terminal Fitting removal and replacements were taking 35 to 40 days. Kitting and production personnel worked together to design and implement a terminal fitting kit that delivered the terminal fittings, and all required fasteners for install in a logical easy to use kit and the number has decreased to 23 days for removal and replacement. 

Kitting Chief Mike Kearnes, explains the significance each shop brings to the maintenance and production of aircraft assembly.

To begin the standardized process, parts are removed off the aircraft at pre-dock and tagged. Those items are then transported to the kitting shop material processing area where they are checked in. The tagged parts are scanned into a database to account for and maintain organization. When the parts enter the building, personnel are assigned to check the items before distributing to one of the specialized shops.

One of the shops in kitting is the panel shop. The panel shop includes work pertaining to all access panels, nose landing gear doors, aircraft ducts, and fillet assemblies. Each item is washed and stripped of paint prior to mechanics and machinists performing any program depot maintenance. The panel shop coordinates Nondestructive Inspection to provide a more thorough evaluation when required by the work specification, or when damage may exist that cannot be confirmed by a visual inspection.

Kitting also has a shop that is located in Bldg. 3001, Dock 9.5. This shop focuses on crew seats, main landing gear doors, crew entry doors and flap tracks. The same PDM, stripping and inspection process is performed. Protective coatings are put back on the items before the sub-assemblies are put back together and stored until the customer is ready for delivery.

The kitting process has been broken down, giving each gate and each individual piece extra thought and consideration in its repair method and required completion date. However, this process must remain fluid and robust in order to adapt to increased efficiencies and the end user’s requests. As the process has become refined, new kits are being developed and other kits improved. To provide the most efficient and effective process, a tracking method was implemented to ensure each part was mapped and followed from receipt to issue. Each aircraft will have up to 116 kits delivered, receiving four in Inspection Dock, up to 89 in Structured Dock, 17 in Systems Docks, three in Post Dock and three to A/C Back shops.

Believing in continuous process improvement, the AMXS kitting office prioritizes prototyping and redesigning kits that are ergonomically beneficial. Every aspect of the process is meticulously measured and carefully considered, from how parts are stored to how mechanics need them. The kitting office ensures the customer gets what they demand when they need it. The office that once sought out help and guidance in building their own kitting process is now the benchmark for the Air Force Sustainment Center.