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AFSO 21 breathes new life into old system

ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England (AFPN) -- The 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron here has streamlined the way its receiving shop conducts business using the Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century concept.

The material maintenance flight began by assembling a team from the traffic management, vehicle operations and supply offices here. The flight is responsible for receiving cargo from commercial shippers, processing and inventorying the cargo, and distributing it to customers on base. 

The first step for the team was to draft a value-stream map. Senior Master Sgt. Jude Hebert, the flight superintendent, said a value-stream map contains two step-by-step lists: one shows the current process and the other shows the process as it would run under perfect conditions.

Part of getting to the perfect state involves identifying and cutting non-value-added processes. 

"Think about a non-value-added process like going to the grocery store," said Capt. Troy Basnett, the 100th LRS Material Maintenance Flight chief. "When you're shopping, you put food in your cart. At the check-out line, you put food on the conveyor belt and the baggers bag it. At your car, they take the groceries and set them on the ground for you to pick up and put in your car.

"Putting the groceries on the ground instead of directly in the car is like a non-value-added process," he said. "It creates another step, and it doesn't get you home faster."

When the team examined the receiving shop, there were a lot of non-value-added processes. The facility door was broken. Drivers were dropping cargo on the pavement in front of the door.

The Airmen would then move the cargo to the back of the building and place it in a queue with other pallets. They had to wait until the shop forklift was available to bring pallets to the computer for processing. The cargo was taken off the pallets and placed in holding areas for delivery. The shop had four daily delivery times, two urgent and two regular.

If a driver had an urgent run to a certain building, he or she would take the urgent package instead of all the packages scheduled for the building, Sergeant Hebert said. That meant a package could sit in the warehouse for 18 hours before delivery. If cargo was dropped off in the afternoon, sometimes it wouldn't be processed until morning.

Since the reorganization, the shop is running more smoothly. The broken door was permanently opened and an existing chain-link fence is used to secure the facility at night. Trucks can now drive straight into the warehouse where cargo is offloaded onto assembly line rollers. There, the packages can be moved and processed more efficiently. Once it reaches the end of the line, cargo is loaded onto delivery trucks.

Deliveries now run once an hour, and increased deliveries mean smaller trucks can be used, saving on fuel costs.

Rearranging the office took a couple of weeks and cost nothing.

"We have more savings than cost, but we haven't spent a dime," Sergeant Hebert said. "AFSO 21 affects not only us, but how we service the customer and the entire wing."

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