Tinker reducing paper waste, mechanics begin using electronic technical orders in team effort
By Brandice J. Armstrong , Tinker Public Affairs
/ Published May 14, 2010
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.