Meeting customer demands: F-15 shops hitting marks in production planning, execution

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
Mechanics in the 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group are doing great things to support today's warfighter.

It's taken a team effort to consistently meet targets during the last several months in the 572nd Commodities Maintenance Squadron.

In the F-15 Stabilizer Shop, mechanics have seen their hard work come to fruition by working to determine monthly stab production targets, using Art of the Possible techniques in production planning, and employing commodities maintenance teams to execute the plan. 

Recent numbers show a total of 16 stabilizers produced in January; 17 in February; and 16 in March - all of which were on time.

"We're starting to see some of the results we were hoping to see," said Stephen Cook, Exchangeable Production Support chief. "The results any business would want to see ... meeting the customer's demand. If we're doing that then normally everything else will take care of itself. And, we've been doing that the last several months. A lot of moving parts had to come together, requiring a lot of teamwork, effort and coordination."

After laying out a plan late last winter that included getting better requirements projections and changing a few processes, they've started out on the right foot, and have been on target this year.

One recent change required the production team to pare the number of gates, or stations, needed to produce each stabilizer. There are now four, instead of five, with one repair process adding an extra day to the final phase. 

The 11-day flow currently includes everything from teardown and spindle/torque box work, to fixture and build-up.

Similar improvements have been seen in the F-15 Canopy Shop, where 11 mechanics are responsible for the teardown, build-up and final assembly of the fleet's protective canopies that cover the aircraft's cockpit and enclose the aircrew.

High-quality visibility through the canopies is paramount for pilots and aircrew to ensure maximum long-range visibility, especially when flying in an air-to-air combat environment. Each canopy leaves with a brand new piece of protective glass.  

Continuous process improvements have the entire shop focused and excited on how they can do their jobs better and support one another toward a common goal. 

One simulation and modeling program used across 402nd CMXG downplayed the belief that more fixtures were needed in the shop. In fact, the program showed that current fixtures were only being used 27 percent of the time. 

You'll find little disagreement regarding the mantra that every shop supervisor at Robins holds dear - if you give the mechanic what they need and support the work being accomplished, the job will get done. 

"Even with little things like using visual aids at each stage, we know what needs to be done each day," said Jerry McWilliams, shop lead. 

That in turn translates to allowing mechanics to truly gauge whether or not they've had a good day - part of what is explained in the AFSC's leadership model outlined by Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, Air Force Sustainment Center commander. 

"The mechanics have improved the process of how we drive canopies into our production process and tear each canopy down," said Billy Valdivia, F-15 Canopy Shop supervisor. "They know what they need to do and work together. Without them, nothing would get accomplished."