HILL AIR FORCE BASE — For many years, the 526th Electronics Maintenance Squadron, part of the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, overhauled MHU-83 lift trucks, in support of supply-chain customers at the Warner Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.
The Munitions Handling Unit-83 is an aerial lift truck that lifts and secures munitions, weapons, rocket launchers, fuel tanks and other items weighing up to 7,000 pounds onto the pylons of various tactical aircraft. It is a self-propelled, hydraulically operated lifting device that positions the loads using hydraulic power supplied by a piston pump coupled to the diesel engine.
Eventually, the end item sales price for the overhaul work increased to the point where, in 2014, the program office determined it was more cost-effective to buy new units instead of overhauling them. This decision nearly caused the Ogden ALC shop’s workload to disappear.
The 526 EMXS established a process improvement team and developed a charter using the AFSC Way and its tenets of safety and quality to eliminate constraints and waste, thus improving cost effectiveness for our warfighters. The squadron understood it would need to maintain the highest product quality standards that customers demand, a high quality that has always delivered.
Team members included squadron mechanics, work leads and supervisors; the Ogden ALC Business Office and Engineering; and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Program Manager of Aerial Stores Lift Trucks, Munition Material Handling Equipment at Warner Robins.
“It has been a collaborated effort with AFLCMC’s Program Manager and our team of professionals in the 526 EMXS,” said Charles Wright, Ground Power Flight Chief. “We knew we could achieve our full potential and maximize available resources, so we focused our sights on creating a successful environment.”
Additionally, the team wrote a comprehensive Statement of Work covering the complete overhaul of the MHU-83, identified unnecessary steps and process constraints, and developed standard work methods on all processes through each build-up cell of the MHU-83.
Using engineering support in the 309th Electronics Maintenance Group, the team developed process orders to ensure standard work throughout teardown, component inspection, buildup, final assembly and final testing. The team also performed a Cost Benefit Analysis to aid in decisions of organic vs. contract repair, repair vs. replacement decisions, and in-house manufacturing of various parts fabrications vs. purchase.
“Increasing speed using Standard Work, with decreased flow time per asset, and continuing warfighter-recognized quality, we have decreased work-in-progress and stabilized the production machine throughput to our customer,” Wright said.
He continued, “This robust continuous process improvement effort has resulted in cutting over 119 hours from the original 561 hours needed to overhaul one MHU-83 — a 21.2 percent decrease in labor costs.”
In terms of total cost savings, the projected fiscal year 2016 end item sales price will be approximately $91,000, a decrease of $42,000 (31.6 percent) per end item, which is projected to save customers more than $2.2 million during that period alone.
“Continuous Process Improvement is exactly that,” Wright said, “so the shop will continue using the AFSC Way to make additional improvements.”