HomeNewsArticle Display

Tinker reducing paper waste, mechanics begin using electronic technical orders in team effort

A small laptop may make a big difference in the future of aircraft and engine repairs.  Wireless to travel with the mechanic, the rugged computers can hold hundreds of technical orders and other necessary information and be updated as needed.  Planners hope that one day each mechanic will check out such a rugged computer when they start the work day, carry with them as they do their work and redock the computers for battery charging and forms updating each night. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

A small laptop may make a big difference in the future of aircraft and engine repairs. Wireless to travel with the mechanic, the rugged computers can hold hundreds of technical orders and other necessary information and be updated as needed. Planners hope that one day each mechanic will check out such a rugged computer when they start the work day, carry with them as they do their work and redock the computers for battery charging and forms updating each night. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Mechanic Dan Maiso gets up-to-date technical order information on a laptop computer at his side on the depot floor of Bldg. 3001.  Relying on a paper technical order or a wired computer to get information crucial to repairing aircraft and engines, such as this F108, are evolving to portable, wireless computers that can be updated as needed and carried by the mechanics to their work. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Mechanic Dan Maiso gets up-to-date technical order information on a laptop computer at his side on the depot floor of Bldg. 3001. Relying on a paper technical order or a wired computer to get information crucial to repairing aircraft and engines, such as this F108, are evolving to portable, wireless computers that can be updated as needed and carried by the mechanics to their work. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Russ Knox leads a discussion about the progress of integrating laptop computers onto the production floor during a recent meeting held in the depot area of Bldg. 3001.  Approximately 30 people from a wide range of organizations meet to check the progress of implementing a transition from mechanics using paper technical orders to having them at their side on laptops. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Russ Knox leads a discussion about the progress of integrating laptop computers onto the production floor during a recent meeting held in the depot area of Bldg. 3001. Approximately 30 people from a wide range of organizations meet to check the progress of implementing a transition from mechanics using paper technical orders to having them at their side on laptops. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Dan Crowe, left, a 72nd Air Base Wing Communications Directorate computer specialist, talks with KC-135 aircraft mechanic Bill McGraw about a hand-held rugged computer that many hope will bring further efficiency to the workers planeside.  Tough enough to withstand bumps and falls, the wireless handheld can pack in hundreds of technical orders that can be updated quickly, and can take photos of anything a mechanic finds during work that needs to be seen quickly by others such as engineers. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Dan Crowe, left, a 72nd Air Base Wing Communications Directorate computer specialist, talks with KC-135 aircraft mechanic Bill McGraw about a hand-held rugged computer that many hope will bring further efficiency to the workers planeside. Tough enough to withstand bumps and falls, the wireless handheld can pack in hundreds of technical orders that can be updated quickly, and can take photos of anything a mechanic finds during work that needs to be seen quickly by others such as engineers. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Paper products are so yesterday and Tinker has its eye on tomorrow.

The Air Force has initiated the move from paper to electronic technical orders through the Air Force Enhanced Technology Information Management Systems initiative. The 76th Maintenance Wing, with support from the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Engineering and Technical Management Directorate and the 72nd Air Base Wing's Communications Directorate, is working to replace paper technical orders in the maintenance shops with electronic ones displayed over laptops.

"Using technology is the way of the future and the more efficient you are at your job with the tools you have, makes your job more efficient," said Dan Crowe, 72nd ABW Communications Directorate computer specialist.

While some portions of the 76th MXW already use electronic technical orders, the remainder of units are moving toward the next step of ETIMS. The communications directorate personnel are working to procure E-Tool Mobile Manager cabinets by Tracewell Systems and Panasonic Toughbook-52 semi-rugged desktop laptops.

Each common access card-enabled cabinet holds 10 ETIMS laptops computers. Each drawer is equipped with a network and power source. When laptops are not being used, they sit in their assigned drawers, plugged into their respective power sources for recharging and to receive updates.

When a mechanic wants to use a laptop from the cabinet, the individual inserts a CAC into the cabinet, enters a password and the cabinet indicates a laptop that is available for use.

Unlike paper tech orders, electronic tech orders can be installed on a master computer. When updates are needed, the laptops in the shop area will all modify at the same time.

The first shop to get new ETIMS computers and cabinets will be the B-52 with an expected rollout in late August or early September.

"The electronic tech orders offer some strategic advantages over paper copies," said Joel Canaga, aircraft electrician for the 565th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron who provides direct depot-level support for B-1B support. "For example, multiple pages can be opened and toggled to for use without taking up excess space. With multiple paper copy tech orders opened and in use, work space becomes a high commodity."

Brandon Walker, 565th AMXS aircraft sheet metal work leader who works with B-52s, agreed.

"It's a lot more convenient to carry a small laptop out to the aircraft compared to sometimes carrying multiple paper books that can weigh up to four or five pounds each," he said. "It's definitely a better way to access online tech orders than relying on desktop computers and printing off extracts from an online source."

Mr. Crowe said he has also started prototyping the Panasonic Mobile Clinical Assistant Toughbook CF-H1 to see if it is compatible with Tinker's mechanic's needs. Specifically, he said he is conducting a time study to prove its efficiency. If successful, the CF-H1 will be ideal for inspections as it is equipped with a camera. Mechanics would be able to take photos of corrosion and document it with the work order, without leaving a paper trail.

"This is just using computers to make the job more efficient," Mr. Crowe said.