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23rd MXG takes initiative with AFSO21

Airman 1st Class Philip Yago connects a plug to the external power receptacle of an HC-130P Nov. 28 at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 723rd Maintenance Group recently conducted a two-day meeting to find efficiencies and cut waste from the C-130 Hercules isochronal inspection process. Airman Yago is a 723rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Schelli Jones)

Airman 1st Class Philip Yago connects a plug to the external power receptacle of an HC-130P Nov. 28 at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 723rd Maintenance Group recently conducted a two-day meeting to find efficiencies and cut waste from the C-130 Hercules isochronal inspection process. Airman Yago is a 723rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Schelli Jones)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A handful of Moody maintenance professionals brought Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century to the forefront during a meeting Nov. 20-21 that reflected on improving inspections for the HC-130P.

Sixteen Airmen from the 723rd Maintenance Squadron, Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 23rd Maintenance Operations Squadron delved into the isochronal process, an annual requirement for C-130s that involves collaboration from a variety of shops and specialties.

"We picked this process because there are so many players and complex things involved in the inspection, it makes sense to find efficiencies and work together using the constrained resources to do it better, faster and cheaper," said Capt. Richard Holifield, 723rd MXS. "It fits perfectly with the AFSO 21 model in terms of Airmen in the trenches, eliminating waste, gaining efficiency, and in the end, saving Air Force money."

AFSO 21 is a program designed to help increase Air Force efficiency by observing and improving each task and weeding out unnecessary steps, or waste.

During the event, maintainers from each squadron evaluated their role in the ISO inspection with the help of Master Sgt. Keith Croston, 723rd MXS C-130 ISO-dock coordinator. The evaluation included placing notes on a board to track each shop's role from start to finish.

"This method gives us a better way to map all the value streams that feed into the ISO process and helps us remove some steps to shorten time," said Sergeant Croston. "For instance, if we need to jack the aircraft, we'll map that Aerospace Ground Equipment needs to be in place and serviceable before the crew chiefs perform the jack."

Value stream mapping provides a top-level view of ISO, and the findings are intended to filter down to Airmen in the back shops as they conduct Rapid Improvement Events for each value stream. These events will examine specific value streams in detail to find efficiencies and methods that can be changed.

The overall goal of the event entails cutting the ISO inspection process by four days. This includes the minor ISO, which involves inspection of approximately 1,600 carded items and typically takes 15 days; and the major ISO, an inspection of more than 2,000 items that takes 20 days.

Achieving the four-day cut will help the 23rd Maintenance Group meet aircraft availability requirements and perform more efficiently, while also fulfilling contractual obligations to the 71st Aircraft Maintenance Unit, said Captain Holifield.

"The 71st AMU is our customer and gives us the aircraft to work on and perform these inspections," he said. "They expect certain things, and we hope this top-level view will help everyone understand how they fit into the contract and contribute to delivering on our promises."

Cutting four days from the ISO process is a change that will likely take nearly eight months, as each shop needs time to examine how to improve their role and implement those changes.

But as the hovering cloud of budget cuts forces the Air Force to formulate new strategies, these necessary improvements show the 23rd MXG is taking the proper steps to adjust, said Captain Holifield.

"With the constrained resources in terms of funds and manpower, we need to make changes and cannot afford to continue the ways we currently do business," he said. "Hopefully, we're empowering our young Airmen to make changes at their level which will help us, in the end, survive the wave of resource constraints and accomplish the important mission we are tasked with."