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Robins Airman looks to improve dorm life with smart lockers

2021 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo Morales spotlight

One of eight 2021 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo finalists, Airman 1st Class Ricardo Morales has an idea for smart lockers: a mail locker system in base dorms for receiving and storing packages for Airmen. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Jim Martinez)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Airman 1st Class Ricardo Morales remembers seeing mail pickup and delivery options while growing up in the Bronx, New York. 

“Once I joined the Air Force, I noticed their antiquated ways of processing mail,” Morales said. “I wondered, ‘why we don’t bring this technology to the Air Force since it is an already proven solution in the commercial sector?’”

His idea, a mail locker system in base dorms for receiving and storing packages for Airmen, was one of eight picked as a finalist for the 2021 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo

We asked Morales, an E8-C Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS, journeyman with the 461st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, more about his idea:   

Q:  What are your primary duty responsibilities?
A. I maintain, inspect and service aircraft enabling global Command & Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capabilities. The work includes performing aircraft ground handling, launch and recovery, servicing and maintenance on 16 E-8Cs valued at $5.9 billion. 

Q:  What problem will your idea solve?
A. Airmen consistently experience delays in receiving their packages due to manual processes on Air Force bases. When a package arrives at the base post office, it could take two to three days to sort, notify and distribute. Airmen also have to make a trip to the post office if they received a slip letting them know a package has arrived. 

With varying work times, limited post office hours, coordination and space needed for packages, this process consumes unnecessary time and effort. My idea for a mail locker system, or smart lockers, saves space in the post office, increases customer satisfaction and provides real-time updates on deliveries.

Q:  How will your idea help the Air Force deliver installation and mission support capabilities, improve installations or support families in a better way?
A: With smart lockers, the Air Force can save money and implement a secure solution with low maintenance and customizable options. For the post office, it frees up space, time and mailroom process times. It also simplifies the parcel delivery process for Airmen on base. 

Additionally, analytics could provide delivery patterns and help effectively manage future deliveries and mail services for Airmen. With fewer middlemen and state of the art, secure lockers, Airmen are assured quick and secure deliveries. 

Q:  Why do you think it’s important for the Air Force to consider innovative solutions and ideas for the base of the future?
A: It is important for young Airmen to exercise innovation to better the Air Force to complete the mission faster and easier. 

Q:  How does it feel to be selected as a finalist for the 2021 Innovation Rodeo?
A: I am truly honored; this is a way to get my idea into something that will help Airmen all over the world. 

Q:  What are you hoping to gain from the experience?
A: I am hoping to improve my pitch skills and learn a lot of during the workshops. I’m also looking forward to making new friends.