Tinkering technicians save millions

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs

Time clocks for physical assessments, scoreboards in the gym, aircraft parts, refrigerators, tablets, and televisions—all of these items have something in common. They are some of the things that the 23d Maintenance Group’s Air Force Repair Enhancement Program technicians have fixed, here.

The AFREP is designed to save the Air Force money by repairing electrical components that are misfiring, have gone bad or are causing issues that maintenance professionals do not have the clearance to repair.

“Our goal is to repair Air Force assets so that money is not spent on things that can be repaired,” said Staff Sgt. Alexandria Jones, 23d MXG AFREP technician. “My favorite part about my job is the opportunity to learn something new. If you ask someone from maintenance what they do, they’ll say ‘we swap little black boxes’ because that’s the extent of what we are able to do on the flight line.”

While flightline repairs are limited and optimized to save time, AFREP helps by going into the equipment and repairing the problem.

“We’ve worked on electronic control units that are used to power the mini gun on the helicopters,” said Master Sgt. Miguel Viveros, 23d MXG AFREP manager. “That part is worth $38,000. Usually there’s a small electronic component of the circuit card that’s causing trouble and we have repaired that part for less than $10. We have an over 90 percent success rate in fixing these parts.”

Moody’s AFREP technicians saved the Air Force $2.4 million during fiscal year 2016 by fixing repairable parts. Once the AFREP technicians fix a part, it goes back into the supply system as if they are “selling” it back to the Air Force.

“It’s broken down into credits and avoidance,” said Viveros. “Credits are when we fix a part and we sell it back to the Air Force and that money comes back to Moody. Avoidance is when we fix the item before it is deemed unrepairable so we keep them from spending any money other than what it takes to fix it.”

AFREP technicians can also work on aircraft parts, but only parts that do not have contracts, meaning they are not required to be sent back to the manufacturer for repairs or replacement.

“We fix a lot of parts for the A-10 because, at one point, it was going to go away,” said Viveros. “As a result, a lot of the vendors went away so we have to find new efficient ways to fix these parts. There’s such a long wait time to get A-10 parts serviced that sometimes they’ll be waiting a month or two, then they’ll get tired of waiting, send the parts here and we’ll have them repaired within days.”

Saving time and money are principles the AFREP was developed on. To keep that mentality going and the personnel in the shop on target, the manager chooses people who are “hungry for knowledge.”

“There’s only four of us in this shop and each of those Airmen have a different mentality,” said Viveros. “They’re not people that give up when something is not working and that’s why they get picked to come here. They have a lot of pride in what they do.”

Although aircraft equipment is the bulk of their work, Moody’s AFREP technicians are capable of repairing more and are currently trying to expand the list of agencies they work with.

“We don’t just repair maintenance parts and we’re trying to build connections with units outside of maintenance,” said Viveros. “We fixed an explosive ordinance disposal robot controller; without it, the robot was down until they could buy another one, which costs $60,000. We will research the item to make sure we can work on it and if it clears, we can fix it.”

For fiscal year 2017 AFREP technicians have set the goal of saving the Air Force $3 million, which will be the highest savings for this AFREP since 2000.

So far, technicians have already saved $1,007,405.07, but they hope that by expanding the program’s reach to other units, they will increase those savings and beat their goal.

“We would like to offer our services to all groups on base,” said Viveros. “If they have an electronic piece of equipment, we can look at it and see if we can help them.”