Building frames for airframes

  • Published
  • By Mike W. Ray
  • Tinker Public Affairs
Whatever needs to be shipped at Tinker Air Force Base, chances are the "Box Shop" can make a container for transporting it.

For example, one time the shop manufactured a wooden container for a B-52 vertical stabilizer. The shipping crate was "the size of a trailer house," Woodworker Supervisor Johnnie Gregory said.

The Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Oklahoma City box factory, located in Bldg. 1, fabricates and assembles myriad specialized containers of various shapes and sizes, made from wood and/or cardboard.

At full strength the box factory employs approximately 19 people who each spend 40 or more hours per week making shipping containers, Mr. Gregory said.

The shop supports the Air Logistics Center and Tinker Air Force Base associates for multiple weapon systems (including the B-1B, B-2, KC-135, C-135 and E-3) and their annual production of aircraft flight controls, engines and accessories.

The containers move globally, to continental U.S. production distribution center maintenance sites, and to DLA Distribution center warehouse facilities at Tinker AFB.

Work Leader Dale Barney said almost all of the containers made in the box shop are used for shipping aircraft parts, especially rudders and wing flaps, skins, flight controls, and parts for five different jet engines.

"We work hand-in-hand with Air Force technicians," Mr. Barney said. "They give us the plans and specifications, and we make the containers they need."

Blueprints for the containers are known as special package instructions, or SPIs (pronounced "spies"). Each SPI contains the design for a container and the list of materials required to make it. The DLA box factory at Tinker has several file cabinets full of SPIs.

The SPI for a container built recently for transportation of a B-52 wing flap was multiple pages long and the materials list numbered 49 items. The wooden container was 32 feet long, 9½ feet tall and 25 inches wide.

A shipping container may be a wooden crate, a cardboard box, or a combination of both. In addition, the shipping container probably includes dunnage -- material such as wooden braces or packing foam inserted around cargo to prevent damage to the contents of the container. The dunnage is intended to stabilize the parts while in transit.

Mr. Barney said the turnaround time for wood products is about two weeks, except for rush orders, while the typical turnaround time for fiber containers is two to three days.

The box factory has machines that cut and crease the cardboard, and splice it, too, when a fiber shipping container is so large that two boxes have to be stapled together to make one unit. Conversely, on rare occasions a small cardboard box must be made by hand, Mr. Barney said.

In order to support the various types of commodities shipped, lumber consumed at the box factory includes a variety of shapes and sizes.

"With the amount of shipments processed through our distribution center, we ensure that wood products are used as efficiently as possible," Mr. Barney said. "We have a robust recycling process."

The box shop has dozens of dies the employees use for cutting cardboard boxes and packing foam into numerous shapes and designs to accommodate whatever cargo is being shipped by the customer.

DLA Distribution Oklahoma City supports customers on Air Force bases worldwide with various systems and commodities that have been repaired at Tinker AFB.