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Fairchild, Shaw and Ellsworth AFBs make productivity gains

Oct. 15 (UPI) — The Air Force on Thursday recognized three bases for progress on sustainment initiatives intended to increase aircraft readiness.

The sustainment initiatives were the result of the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force’s 2019 direction to develop a better framework to improve the readiness of weapon systems and sustainment operations, according to the Air Force.


“We developed a team to institute the Theory of Constraints on several flight lines across the service in an effort to enhance our maintenance processes,” said Brig. Gen. Linda Hurry, director of logistics, deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering and force protection. “In just six months we were already seeing results at Fairchild, Ellsworth and Shaw Air Force Bases.”

The Theory of Constraints is a methodology for identifying addressing limitations in mission processes to improve throughput, and at each of the three bases in question, constraints in the flow of broken-to-fixed aircraft were identified and remediated.

“You improve flow by removing unnecessary maintenance multitasking and by preparing through full kitting to begin work on maintenance,” Hurry said. “This will reduce the number of aircraft in a ‘work-in-progress’ status and ultimately our broke-to-fixed aircraft timeline.”

At Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington, leaders increased 19 aircraft to their fleet and decreased the amount of time needed to complete inspections by pooling resources and preparing in advance.

That increased the availability of aircraft by 1,500 days, according to the Air Force.

At Ellsworth AFB near Rapid City, S.D., leaders worked to control work in progress and combine maintenance requirements.

The result, the Air Force said, is an increase in the number of flyable aircraft per day and a decrease in the maintenance deviation rate.

At South Carolina’s Shaw AFB, leaders set a goal of improving the mission capable rate through strategic combinations of maintenance requirements, with a resulting 15.8% increase in mission capable rate and 14.4% decrease in non-mission capable rate on the proof of concept aircraft.

“We’ve seen this model work incredibly well at depots where you do heavy maintenance repair and overhaul on the airplanes but it can work just as well at the tactical flight line, particularly for scheduled maintenance activities,” Lt. Gen. Warren Berry, deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering and force protection, said. “That’s what we’re doing today, we’re taking that whole idea and pushing it to the field level and testing it.”

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