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Improvement event flying high

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- One Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center organization proved a transformation project doesn't have to be elaborate. By doing some research and cost analysis, the unit will save Tinker $5,669 a year.

The Operations and Support office replaced the type of flag flown in front of Bldg. 3001 and found a better way to repair the lights used to illuminate it between sundown and sunup.

"We're saving money because we figured out a way to improve a simple process and eliminate waste," said team member Tinia Frasco.

The transformation project began in July when team member and command section facility manager Samuel Nowakowski realized he was calling in a lot of work orders for the flag pole light fixtures.

In the course of a year, Mr. Nowakowski said 10 nylon flags were torn and shredded by Oklahoma's rough winds and other weather conditions. Replacing them cost approximately $2,200. Additionally, the light bulbs at the post were being ruined by moisture seeping into the light fixture. As a result, the bulbs and ballasts were being replaced approximately eight times per year and costing the base nearly $5,300 annually.

Through research, the team realized the type of flag being flown was not made from the most efficient material. Polyester is a stronger material and better equipped to handle Oklahoma's elements.

Staff Sgt. Michelle Murphy said the team also discovered that, according to United States Code Title 36 Chapter 10, the flag can be taken down during inclement weather.

"We found out polyester flags, which are made for high winds, are cheaper than nylon flags," Mr. Nowakowski said.

When it came to the light fixtures, the team worked with the 72nd Air Base Wing Civil Engineer Directorate's Tinker Support Services mechanics, which had faced a similar issue at Bldg. 460. These mechanics were using a different repair process that prevented the moisture from entering the light fixture, thus lowering the cost of repairs.

"We're estimating the work orders will go down from eight per year to down to four and reduce our costs from $5,234 to $884," Mr. Nowakowski said.

Just three months after Mr. Nowakowski realized the problem, the team solved the issue.

"We're not a very big office and there are a lot of staff offices that haven't really seen or understood how process improvement can help their office, but this is an example that a project doesn't have to be a huge project to make an impact," Mr. Nowakowski said. "It can be as simple as this."