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Tool Crib: MXSG Main Tool Issue Center

Work leader Silas Hill’s job in the M-TIC is to check to see if all of the equipment is working properly to be able to be issued to customers. If not, he prepares the tools to be sent out for repair. ( Air Force photo by Kelly White)

Work leader Silas Hill’s job in the M-TIC is to check to see if all of the equipment is working properly to be able to be issued to customers. If not, he prepares the tools to be sent out for repair. ( Air Force photo by Kelly White)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Talk about supporting the warfighter--if it has a bolt, a screw, or a rivet, chances are the tool that tightened it came from the M-TIC.

The M-TIC or main tool issue center is located in building 9001 and supplies all the hand held tools for the complex.

Toby Smith, 76th MXSG complex tool manager, said tool kits are put together and assigned to a specific individual. Tool kits have a number that is kept in the Facilities and Equipment Maintenance system (FEM), an online database they use to track the tools.
There are 4,438 tool kits containing 720,000 tools currently issued within the entire complex, with an estimated value of $41 million according to Mr. Smith.

Tracking the tools is essential, so each tool is laser etched with a code that assigns it to a kit which is issued to an individual and recorded in FEM.

Each tool kit, according to Mr. Smith, comes with foam cutouts of the tools, so inventory is quicker and easier. "You can open the drawer and see that a wrench or a hammer is missing right away," he said.

Inventory is done at the beginning of a person's shift, and again at the end. "You don't want a tool to go missing," said Mr. Smith. Like surgeons counting sponges and tools after surgery, you want them all to be accounted for. "A missing tool could be inside banging around a plane engine, and that could be a fatal mistake," he said.

Mr. Smith said if a tool does come up missing at an inventory, they start looking for it right away but after one hour they must initiate a lost item report.

As is the AFSC way, leaning processes has been a big part the tool issue center. Mr. Smith says first they have gone to a different way to purchase tools. They used to purchase using a government credit card, but now there is four-party logistics and they shop through GSA and have contracts with that one vendor.

The contractor keeps tools in stock that M-TIC keeps in stock. The goal, he said, is to not keep inventory in the first place, and only have the vendor supply the inventory.

The other thing they did to streamline the process is that the M-TIC once was located in building 3001 before moving over to 9001. Mechanics would have to go all the way over there and stand in a long line. "We were losing 1 ½ hours of production time every time a person needed a replacement tool," he said. "Sometimes it could take up to eight days to get the replacement to them."

Now, they're located in building 9001 and the entire database is online. Customers can request tools they need, and even replacement tools to replace a broken tool and so on. The M-TIC processes the request and sends the tool out to them.

"In a process that now saves 5,000 man hours a year, they have a dedicated person to run a 'milk run' to deliver tools in the exchange/replacement process," said Mr. Smith.
"We exchange 1,500 tools a month with 95 percent efficiency," said Mr. Smith. "We're working on the other 5 percent. We didn't think 95 percent was possible, so once we hit that mark, why not the other 5 percent to get to the 'art of possible'."

"This Tinker team does an amazing job under Sharla Matchen's supervision," said Mr. Smith. "This group provides the tools to keep 'em flying."