Unit Spotlight on 559th Combat Sustainment Squadron

  • Published
  • By Kandis Murdock
  • Tinker Air Force Base Public Affairs
Most people know engineers design aircraft parts; depot maintenance fixes them, but who packs and ships them? They may not where brown or drive white logo'd trucks, but shipping is their business.
   The 559th Combat Sustainment Squadron packaging and transportation flight is responsible for packaging, handling, storing and transporting all prime assets.
   "We place the required material in the hands of the warfighter and the maintainer the first time, every time and on time," said Jean Baxter, 559 CBSS packaging and transportation flight chief.
   Their dedication and precision in executing their mission has earned the squadron recognition including the 2006 Department of Defense Packaging Excellence award presented by the Under Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness for their vigilance in cost reduction, outstanding customer support, new process implementation and innovative package design.
   "The workload performed by the Packaging and Transportation Flight is an integral part of supply chain operations," said Joan Meldrum, 559 CBSS squadron director.
   The squadron is comprised of two sections, packaging management and transportation management.
   Packaging Management
   The packaging team builds shipping containers from 1 to 1,000 cubic feet out of anything from cardboard to steel to protect Air Force assets like B-52 rudders or F110-100 engine parts.
   The packaging management section consists of 11 packaging specialists, an illustrator, mechanical engineer and woodworker located in bldg. 260. The entire packaging management team is a member of the National Institute of Packaging, Handling and Logistics Engineers.
   At the shop, the woodworker first builds prototype shipping containers. Then, the engineer provides guidance to packaging specialists and inspects the design and materials to make sure the container properly protects the asset. Lastly, the illustrator translates the container into a blue print describing all materials so any airman, woodworker, packer or transporter can understand how the container functions.
   Also, a packaging specialist serves as the HAZMAT help desk. He oversees the acquisition of shipments containing hazardous materials and ensures compliance with federal and international laws.
   The lean efforts of the Air Force nationwide are applicable to the Tinker packaging team also. The shop's shoestring budget of $12,000 yearly for packaging prototypes forces the crew to be strict with funds and creative with solutions.
   The squadron recovers containers from the Defense Reutilization and Marketing office and reuses them. They have also implemented the Container Reclamation Program where they go 'dumpster diving' in industrial areas and frequently find good pallets and containers to avoid purchasing, repairing or building new containers, saving the Air Force $100,000 a year.
   Packaging solutions
   * A container for a Rantee AT antenna, used for air traffic control, needed modification because of the size of the $103,000 item. The end users had problems packing and handling the antenna in its original shipping container. The packaging design team created a container with a one-sided hinge for easy handling, while considering limited availability of equipment at field units. The new container provides easy access to the antenna, reducing handling time by 50 percent and creating mroe time for field units to accomplish their misison.
   * When a B-52 aircraft rudder, a steering mechanism for the B-52 located on the tail of the plane, was consistently receiving damage, the packaging team realized it was because of the rudder's position in the shipping container.
   The group developed a new packaging design to secure the $21,000 critical asset in the shipping container, providing additional blocking and bracing and improving support and protection for the rudder.
   * A change in the F110-100 engine required a package redesign for the exhaust nozzle augmenter, a power-booster used to provide a temporary thrust. The team collaborated with the equipment specialist, engineer and engine unit chief to create a bracing fixture to envelop and support the $806,000 augmenter during storage and shipment. 
   Transportation management
   The transportation management section ensures the movement of those assets in an efficient, effective and timely manner.
   The transportation team consists of seven traffic management specialists located in Bdg. 1.
   The section transports items like B-2 shelters, KC-10 engine and cruise missiles, C-9 aircraft and special tooling for the B-2 and F-15 programs.
   The transportation team also assists contracting and procurement by providing packaging and transportation requirements on purchase requests. They supply contractors and field units with low cost freight carriers.
   They serve as a liaison between Air Force Matieral Command headquarters logistics support and Tinker with a budget of nearly $14 million annually.
   This year, the crew planned and organized the movement of 17 truckloads of special tooling for the B-2 program office from a storage point in Utah to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center in Arizona.
   The squadron's future plans include raising awareness on the Container Reclamation Program for all activities that receive or use containers or packing materials.
   The squadron also educates users on proper unpacking methods to prevent the destruction of crates and containers that can be reused. Packing and Transportation look forward to continuing in excellence with the primary goal of improving logistics support.