TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
The Air Force Sustainment Center is setting the pace in many areas of efficiency and innovation, according to Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Roper saw AFSC processes in action when he visited AFSC headquarters Sept. 13.
“This is the culture I want to see in an Air Force organization,” said Roper. “You can tell this organization is well organized just by walking out onto the floor.”
Roper visited the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group’s KC-135 programmed depot maintenance line and B-1B Integrated Battle Station modification line, as well the 76th Commodities Maintenance Group’s Reverse Engineering laboratory during his visit. AFSC experts also briefed him on the software enterprise and supply chain resilience.
Roper offered insight and ideas throughout the visit. “All things are worth exploring when they offer nontraditional answers,” Roper said. One suggestion he made was scanning aircraft parts for future 3-D printing possibilities while the plane was disassembled during depot maintenance. While there is not a funding source for that work right now, it is the kind of forward thinking AFSC welcomes.
“All work is process,” Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, AFSC commander, said. “Understanding constraints is the first step in eliminating them and increasing your effectiveness in delivering combat power.”
Meeting unique supply chain demands, sourcing parts no longer manufactured, and implementing agile software development are all examples of necessary innovation the AFSC has tackled.
“Innovation has to be part of our culture,” according to Dr. Kristian Olivero, technical director, Engineering Office, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. “It doesn’t just happen in a special building somewhere. We must create an innovation ecosystem.”
Having robust information is a necessary building block in the process.
“We must commit to the boring work,” Roper said, referring to tracking metrics and data mining. “It will benefit us in the end” by allowing maintenance and software needs to become more predictable on both legacy and leading edge systems.
“People on the outside don’t understand how this is a business,” he said. “You guys are the innovators of the Air Force. You are pushing envelopes I wish other people were.