By Senior Airman Jonathan McElderry
/ Published April 29, 2019
Last week, members of the 5th Maintenance Squadron began planning a way to decrease the time it takes to maintain a B-52H Stratofortress in between every 450 flight hours, known as a phase inspection, at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.
Known as the continuous process improvement (CPI), the plan will increase efficiency throughout a phase operation, which will shorten the time it takes to complete it.
“For previous aircraft, we’ve taken 24 and a half days to complete a phase process,” said 2nd Lt. Joshua Trosen, 5th MXS maintenance flight commander. “Our goal is to gradually cut that time down to 21 days in six months, 19 days in a year and then 17 days in two years. This will hopefully give Airmen more time for training and increase morale across the squadron.”
For an entire week, various sections within the squadron came together to discuss how they can decrease the time it takes to properly complete a phase operation.
“We have flight chiefs, subject matter experts and Airmen from fabrication, maintenance, avionics, accessories, and aerospace ground equipment flights in addition to our quality assurance team and production superintendent,” said Trosen.
During the meetings, the 5th MXS members created a flow chart and had a group discussion on any potential ideas to help make the CPI happen.
“We’ve been trying to figure out what ideas will have a high impact and the amount of effort it’s going to take to get those ideas to work, said Senior Airman Pfeenix Tramill, 5th MXS crew chief. “We laid all our ideas out on a graph, then voted on which ideas would make the biggest impact and positively affect our efficiency.”
During the week-long CPI, the planning team discussed potential obstacles they may face while lowering the phase time and how to counteract them.
“We’re using an eight-step problem solving method and we’ll be developing countermeasures on how we can improve the phase efficiency and then turn those countermeasures into action items,” said Trosen. “For example, we’ve thought of a way to realign our equipment to eliminate waste.”
With all of the different sections working together as a team, it also gives everyone an opportunity to communicate and strengthen the bonds between them.
“It’s cool to see the different sides of the phase process and the organization that goes into it,” said Tramill. “It’s nice to actually see the bigger picture on what’s going on instead of just fixing the aircraft. It’s also great to be a part of such an important change and I think it’s going to be very beneficial for our squadron.”
Likewise, Trosen added that getting several opinions from all the sections within the squadron has been a big help going forward.
“It’s been a great process to get everyone together,” said Trosen. “Having everyone help each other and create a collective solution while bonding together as a group has been interesting and very influential to see.”