TOC enhances readiness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Deanna Muir
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

To ensure mission capabilities are met, Airmen spend countless hours maintaining aircraft. In an effort to improve workflow and enhance readiness for maintainers here at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, the 23rd Maintenance Group recently invited consultants from the Goldratt Consulting group to implement the Theory of Constraints methodology.

Aircraft can require maintenance four to six times over a 90-day period. By applying Theory of Constraints methodology, the 23rd MXG hopes to streamline processes, improve readiness and ensure maintenance goals are reached.

“Every time I bring (an) aircraft down for maintenance, and I look at it, there's a risk (for a mishap),” said Gary Adams, Goldratt consultant. “So now I've got this risk spread across 90 days.”

First introduced by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt in his 1984 book “The Goal,” the Theory of Constraints is a process improvement methodology for identifying the most important limiting factor that stands in the way of achieving a goal and then systematically improving that constraint until it isn’t a limiting factor.

“TOC is understanding where that constraint or weakest link is, and then focusing all of your efforts on that,” Adams said. “You're going to have the most performance improvement if you focus on that one area.”

Oftentimes, maintenance jobs have to be paused or are slowed down due to various constraints, such as the ratio of aircrafts to maintainers, coupled with the time needed to order more parts. These instances provide an opportunity for TOC to be applied.

In April of 2022, Goldratt consultants started the process of implementing TOC at Moody. The first four weeks were spent gathering and interpreting data and interviewing Airmen to learn current processes. After this information was collected, the constraint was identified and a solution was formulated.

“The solution can't be complex, or you'll never get it implemented,” said Adams. “So we try to be as simple and practical as possible to achieve the goal.”

The goal is to increase aircraft availability to meet the needs of Air Force operations. The solution to this is looking out at the 90-day maintenance schedule, pulling it all in, and completing all 90-day maintenance at once, explained Adams.

Adams compared a constraint to a virus. Instead of treating each symptom, work to get rid of the virus (the weak link) and the symptoms will lessen or disappear.

Prior to starting a job, the maintenance group has implemented kitting as one solution to an identified constraint. The process of kitting ensures Airmen have all of the tools and parts necessary to complete a job from start to finish.

“If we're not fully kitted, we won't start it,” said Tech. Sgt. Delrico Harris, 74th Fighter Generation Squadron weapons expeditor. “There is less time wasted on trying to find resources, whether it be parts, personnel or having the proper equipment to do the job.”

Although the implementation of TOC methodology just began, Harris explained that the process has already improved communication, lessened frustration, and jobs are getting done faster.

“We will reduce the amount of aircraft that we're holding down for scheduled maintenance at a time,” said Master Sgt. Kareem Samuel, 23rd Maintenance Group chief of innovation. “With that, we will expose more aircraft to be able to fly.”

The strength of the chain can only be increased by strengthening the weakest link and the 23rd MXG is taking the steps to do so.

“It’s challenged a lot of things - the way we look at maintenance, the way we manage,” Samuel said. “We’re not coming up with solutions that are extremely complicated, they make sense. It will become a part of our culture.”