By Air Force Senior Airman Kelly O’Connor, 100th Air Refueling Wing
ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England -- Imagine shopping online for an item that must arrive quickly and realizing the process will take 90 days. Ninety long days.
Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Heffernan, a flight aerospace propulsion journeyman with the 100th Maintenance Squadron here, experienced this problem while working in the composite tool kit section last year. When customers tried to order tools and equipment, the process took an average of three months. Heffernan saw the frustration and wanted to swap out the old process with a new one.
Heffernan went to Mia Tobitt, the squadron’s continuous process improvement manager, for guidance. Tobitt suggested he enroll in Green Belt, or CPI training. There, he discussed his flight’s problem, and with the help of others, they made his vision a reality.
“The old ordering process had all these defects, and we eliminated them,” Heffernan said. “The root cause was there wasn’t a standard process, so we created one. The average was 90 days to order something, and our flight chief’s policy was 30 days. We got it down from 90 days to a day and a half.”
Making a Difference
The process simplified purchasing items and brought maintainers the equipment they needed in a fraction of the time it used to take.
“The lines of communication are much smoother now because everyone knows what their role is, Everyone knows who’s accountable,” Tobitt said. “We’ve put it back into the customer’s hands. It’s important that we empower them.”
Airmen are now trained to use tracking logs and place orders with a step-by-step guide for continued accountability and communication across the flight.
“This project illustrates how one airman can make a difference,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Weme, 100th MXS commander. “Joshua used his training to focus on and fix a problem that affected his flight and daily mission. Now, that solution is benefiting our entire squadron.”
The 100 MXMT flight is made up of 61 personnel who maintain a squadron of KC-135 Stratotankers that support missions in Europe and Africa.