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62nd Airlift Wing embraces Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- In an effort to increase the velocity of generating aircraft that are prepped and ready for flight, the 62nd Maintenance Group has teamed with several other squadrons here to embrace Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century practices and smooth out flightline processes.

The goal is to make the flightline run more like a surgery room in a hospital, said Maj. Randall Ackerman, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

"The mechanic is the surgeon and when surgeons are performing an operation, they don't leave the table," said Major Ackerman. "We're trying to centralize everything at the jet."

Working together with the 62nd Operations Group, the 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, the 62nd MXG has set in place several lean events to smooth out the launch and recovery process.

Some of the new processes in the planning stages include a parts delivery system utilizing the wireless network on the flightline; a visual management paint scheme to better identify and organize support equipment; and a mobile debriefing office to help aircrews and maintainers stay in better communication, said Major Ackerman.

The lean events that helped generate the better ideas are all about the simple things, said Senior Master Sgt. Kelly Williams, 62nd Maintenance Squadron.

"It's about fixing what you can in a short amount of time and focusing on the things in the project that actually lead to people doing something," Sergeant Williams said.

To accomplish the goal of reducing the amount of time the aircraft is on the ground, squadrons must also keep open lines of communication, he said.

"Synchronization is the key, and everyone has to be ready to be flexible and adjust," he said.

Helping to foster that communication and the project as a whole are the contributions from Airmen working on the flightline and those who are heavily involved in the processes daily, Sergeant Williams said.

"More people offer up information when we let them know where we're at in the process and how it can make things easier for them," he said. "We want to remove the barriers stopping them from being successful, not put more in their way."

Major Ackerman said he was excited to see some senior airmen contribute some great ideas during lean events.

"They're saying to themselves, 'The decisions for this have been made by us and not someone at the other levels,'" he said.

That kind of empowerment must remain at the forefront to continue a lean culture, Sergeant Williams said.