Engineer’s planning generates new machining systems for complex

  • Published
  • By Joseph Mather
  • Robins Public Affairs

The 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group in the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, has received new computerized numerical control machining systems to replace machines that have been around for more than three decades.

The CNC milling systems make aircraft parts out of aluminum for the WR-ALC aircraft sustainment mission.

Scott Mayfield, 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group mechanical engineer, said CMXG has received six 3-axis systems, a 3 and 6-axis lathe, and three of eight 5-axis milling machines.

The acquisition process for new machining systems was not easy, said Mayfield.

“The arrival of the 3 and 5-axis machines is the culmination of more than eight years of planning,” he said. “I started the machine acquisitions back in 2012. I determined a need to replace all of CMXG’s aged, worn and obsolete CNC machines.”

Mayfield had to identify what systems needed to be replaced.

“I went on several trips to numerous companies in the private sector,” said Mayfield. “This was to determine what machines they were using, the machine reliability, availability, maintainability, company processes and training.”

During his trips he gathered valuable information.

“I used the data collected from the benchmarking trips, as well as part geometries and materials to determine the machines that best fit CMXG’s requirements,” said Mayfield. “I was able to group the machines into three categories, 5-axis, 3-axis and lathes.”

With this information, Mayfield prepared his documents.

“I wrote 13 economic analyses for 18 pieces of equipment valued at over $48 million, in the first five years” said Mayfield. “I didn’t just want to replace the machines, but also wanted to improve how CMXG’s machine shops operate.”

Mayfield provided justifications to purchase the new systems.

“I wrote two in depth justification and approval documents for sole source acquisitions for the 5-axis and the 3-axis machines based on standardization and duplication of costs,” said Mayfield. “The justification and approval was approved and funds were sent to the Defense Logistics Agency-Aviation for acquisition.”

The process did not end with the acquisition of new systems.

“Several projects were submitted to the maintenance support group for site preparation,” said Mayfield. “This involved removing the old equipment and installing new utilities at each of the new machine locations.”

Even the floors needed reinforced, said Mayfield.

“I worked with the machine manufacturers and their subcontractors to cut and pour new machine foundations, as well as install the new equipment,” he said.

With the old equipment removed and the building renovation completed, the new milling systems are currently arriving and being put in place.

“I have worked on this project for three years,” said Micah Graves, 402nd CMXG mechanical engineer. “It has been a lot of work between the removing of old equipment, preparing the sites for the new equipment, and now installing the new machines.”

Graves and Mayfield’s work has paid off as their plans came together.

“I know Scott Mayfield is thrilled to see the light at the end of this tunnel,” said Graves. “This allows Robins to efficiently perform the depot maintenance, getting the airplanes off the ground and back to the fight in a timely manner.”