564th AMXS team achieves 'Art of the Possible'

  • Published
  • By Brandice J. O'Brien
  • Tinker Public Affairs
In recent years, the 564th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron has made news for streamlining their efforts and reducing KC-135 Stratotanker flow days. Despite their historic accomplishments, the unit continues to strive for better performance and has taken further steps toward the art of the possible.

"Art of the Possible" is a commonly used motivational phrase throughout the Air Force Sustainment Center and refers to striving for more than what was initially thought possible. Recently, the 564th AMXS significantly streamlined their kitting process and instituted a corrosion preventative compound application. As a result, they have further reduced flow days and maximized production. Personnel in the kitting area helped the squadron reduce overall flow by 18 days. While the Inspection Dock, added a new CPC application process without adding any flow days.

"We just looked at it as a challenge and asked the workforce to suggest ways we could improve processes and not be shy about it. We said, 'If you have an idea, speak up. If it makes sense, we'll try it,'" said Pleas Williams, 564th AMXS Pre-Production Support Section chief. "We have good people and it was a good team effort."

To be more effective in the kitting area, personnel eliminated processes that simply didn't seem sensible. They started with the delivery of kitted parts. In the past, crated gear parts were delivered to the aircraft. Mechanics working on the aircraft would step away from working on the aircraft for a day or two and uncrate the packages that arrived. They'd take inventory of what was there and repackage unserviceable items for pick-up. Also, parts removed from the aircraft to facilitate other maintenance, or FOM, were brought to a storage area, and eventually sorted and returned as kits.

While it was a process that once worked, there were several negative consequences. If a piece of equipment had a crack or corrosion, it was often not discovered until the installation phase. If the crack couldn't be fixed onsite, further delays were inevitable.
Personnel knew there had to be a better way.

And, there was. Instead of having FOM just stored and then delivered to a particular aircraft, it is now brought to a pre-kitting inspection area. As soon as it's received, a mechanic checks the items, inventories them, and sorts them into pallets with foam cutouts. Any unserviceable parts are repaired or replaced before being kitted for reinstallation.

"Every five-and-a-half days we have a jet arriving and a jet leaving, so every five-and-a-half days counting weekends and holidays we're sending out one of every kit. Last year, we overhauled 68 aircraft," Mr. Williams said. "Before, when kits were going out to the aircraft, they were 37 percent incomplete, missing one or more parts. Now, only 4 percent of kits are incomplete on delivery."

There are 117 kits per aircraft with more than 2,500 parts. There are also 289 integrated primed vendor kits which contain the nuts, bolts and fasteners to install each part.
"We look at our 'build' sheets, which include pictures and identification numbers for each item, and verify everything needed in the kit is there," said Eddie Marstellar, 564th AMXS Support chief. "That has minimized sending partial kits."

By building and managing the kits in one area, they can be accurately tracked and monitored.

Additionally, when a mechanic places a request for a kit, no longer does he call one of seven people. Instead, he sends an email to a workflow account where it will be addressed in a timely manner by a single contact.

This year, in the inspection dock, personnel came across a new issue. The fiscal 2013 workload requires KC-135s undergoing programmed depot maintenance to be treated with CPC, a spray that reduces the development of rust and corrosion on the aircraft. When the CPC treatment was last required here, roughly 15 years ago, the compound was applied whenever it could be worked into the schedule and often took the length of the overhaul before it was finished. Since then, the number of flow days has been reduced by two thirds. To maintain these results adding the CPC application required a concrete plan.

Planning and production developed a strategy to apply the CPC after the initial inspection, when the aircraft is already stripped of its paint and parts. With a solid design in place the CPC can be completed in just three days. The overall incorporation plan was good enough that no time has been added to PDM and the inspection dock team has continued to meet a 15-day gate.

"We prep the whole aircraft and turn it over to 566th AMXS Services Flight on day eight and they have it for three days. It allows them to access the areas requiring CPC without different skills trying to work on the same areas at the same time," said Brent Bacon, 564th AMXS Inspection Dock chief. "It was spread out, but now it's very structured."
Mr. Williams said overall the process improvements are a job well done by an exceptional team.

"I'm really proud of the workforce and how hard they work, how diligent they are and how creative they are," he said.