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News > 566th AMXS saves KC-135 flow days by standardizing processes on the floor
 
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76th AMXG
In the Tinker Air Force Base depainting facility of the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group’s Service Section in Bldg. 2122,depainters use a lift to reach the top of a KC-135 Stratotanker with the pink aircraft chemical Plane Naked. Meticulous preparation and masking takes place before depainting, safeguarding areas not to be coated. In less than an hour, the aircraft will be completely covered in the pink chemical as the process begins working over several hours. Standardizing preparation methods is one way the unit has trimmed time off their production, though they now work with crews nearly half the number as in past years. ( U.S. Air Force photo by Margo Wright)
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566th AMXS saves KC-135 flow days by standardizing processes on the floor

Posted 4/15/2011   Updated 4/15/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Brandice J. O'Brien
Tinker Public Affairs


4/15/2011 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  -- They did it again. The 566th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's Disassembly and Cleaning Section has once again reduced the time required to strip paint from a KC-135 Stratotanker.

The reduction in flow days was actually the result of a four-month transformation effort facilitated by Steven Foster from the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group's Transformation Office and subject matter experts from the 566th AMXS. The goal was to standardize the KC-135 paint stripping processes and reduce throughput time.

"With the increase in KC-135 workload this year and fiscal 2012, we figured this would be a good reason to standardize that workload and meet our projections," said Shelvie Tabb, 566th AMXS Disassembly and Cleaning Section chief. "Our job is to continuously improve and by standardizing our processes, it benefits us all in the long run."

The 566th AMXS Disassembly and Cleaning Section, which performs paint stripping tasks, began the transformation effort in late October by analyzing their current processes. They found if they made small changes, they'd gain big results.

The working group began the transformation effort with a value-stream analysis and laid the KC-135 required operations and its timeline out in a script form. The section's timeline begins when an aircraft arrives and the process typically took four flow days.

"We tweaked the scripts and moved them around where they needed to be in the flow and what we had to have for each of those to happen," Mr. Tabb said. "It provided a real visual picture of the process to the first-line supervisor and worker."

Mr. Tabb said the section began building kits to hold their materials and have them situated at the point of use for when a mechanic needed them.

By relocating and standardizing material dispensing locations, the section reduced the travel distance by 6,455 feet, or 75 percent, for the masking process alone. Instead of having personnel walk more than a mile from one station to another during the paint removal process, all supplies were moved to facilitate easy worker access.

"It goes back to an old saying, 'There are two things that never sleep,'" Mr. Tabb said. "Well, there are now three things in my book: safety, corrosion and leaning a process. There's always something you can go grab."

The section also updated their status boards to provide relevant information that is quick and easy for everyone to see at a glance. Along with the new posted information, each board has a hanging red, yellow, or green flag indicating the overall status of the aircraft.

Out of the last 10 aircraft, the section reduced the throughput time by 2.85 flow days or two days and two-and-a-half shifts. The other four aircraft were extended due to weather delays. If the temperature falls or is raised above the optimum temperature range of 70 to 85 degrees, work is delayed, Mr. Tabb said.

The team's stretch goal is to reduce the flow days to 2.6 -- two days and two shifts.

"It's not completely done yet. It looks pretty standardized on our charts, but it still has little fluctuations that are outside our control. I would say we're at 98-percent standardized," Mr. Tabb said. "I have a success-minded group of folks that work for me. They have great attitudes, stay positive and really know the KC-135s."

Even though a 1.15 flow-day reduction is impressive, Mr. Tabb said it isn't final. After the other weapon systems are also evaluated for standardization, the team will re-evaluate the KC-135s processes and explore additional learning opportunities gained from other weapon system evaluations.



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