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Travis AFB Airmen visit Tesla, streamline processes in vehicle maintenance

Airmen stand around a man in the center give a briefing.

Blaine Huston, center, Tesla Service Center manager, gives a tour to Airmen from the 60th Logistics Readiness Squadron, from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., at the Tesla Service Center in Berkeley, Calif., Nov. 12, 2020. The Airmen toured the service center to evaluate and improve existing maintenance procedures and learned about Tesla’s vehicle acceptance process and managing mobile repair; parts warehousing and data-basing; and the customer experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Nicholas Pilch)

Two airmen look at the driver's side door of a Tesla Model X.

Senior Airmen Roja Burke and Elicana Mose, both 60th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance technicians, get closer look of a Tesla Model X during a tour of the Tesla Service Center in Berkeley, Calif., Nov. 12, 2020.The Airmen toured the service center to evaluate and improve existing maintenance procedures and learned about Tesla’s vehicle acceptance process and managing mobile repair; parts warehousing and data-basing; and the customer experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Nicholas Pilch)

BERKELEY, Calif. (AFNS) -- Airmen assigned to the 60th Logistics Readiness Squadron from Travis Air Force Base partnered with Tesla Nov. 12, to evaluate and improve existing vehicle maintenance procedures for the installation.

 

Fifteen Airmen toured the service center and learned about Tesla’s vehicle acceptance process and managing mobile repair; parts warehousing and data-basing; and the customer experience.

 

“We’re lucky to be near Tesla, one of the most cutting-edge and modernized automotive companies,” said Master Sgt. Jerry Voyles, 60th LRS vehicle fleet manager. “We wanted to take an opportunity to get eyes on their processes, to learn how to incorporate new technology and innovative processes in how we manage the vehicle fleet at Travis (AFB), Air Mobility Command and the Air Force.”

 

The tour was provided by Blaine Huston, Tesla Service Center manager.

 

“What a wonderful opportunity,” Huston said. “What better way to honor these individuals than inviting them to our house, share with them cutting-edge information on how we provide service and manage our fleets.”

 

Currently, fleet maintenance has various processes that could be modernized ranging from mobile maintenance to inventory management. Some of the fleet’s processes aren’t set up to optimize both the customer and maintainer’s time, and the vehicles downtime while getting serviced.

 

On the top of Voyles list is a better vehicle intake or mobile maintenance process. Voyles said in a perfect world the fleet on base could incorporate geo-tagging when requesting maintenance via their smartphone, so they could know exactly where to dispatch in the wake of a vehicle needing to be serviced or make the determination that the vehicle needs to be brought in.

 

An example Voyles referenced to was a situation where a vehicle had a broken taillight. Right now, a customer would have to bring in the vehicle, turn it in, do levels of paperwork then repair the taillight, which gives the vehicle a lot of downtime. A better way for that process to work is for a set in stone mobile maintenance procedure, which Voyles hopes to learn from Tesla.

 

“About 25% of mobile calls could’ve been fixed by the customer,” Voyles said.

 

Occasionally, a customer will be out with a vehicle and something will stop working, Voyles explained. The customer calls the vehicle maintenance shop to see if someone can come out to repair the vehicle. When these requests happen, there isn’t a process in place to record and compare historical technical issues that could be fixed by the customer. This isn’t a good experience for our customers, Voyles said.

 

“When the communication squadron has a customer who needs to troubleshoot, they have an existing list of troubleshooting steps to follow,” Voyles said. “Giving our customers a troubleshooting list with collected data-analytics in the field will lower downtime for our office and their office.”

 

Bottom line, less downtime means the mission moves forward faster.

 

“Big picture, we want to take what we learn today and share that with units across the Air Force,” Voyles said.

 

The next steps for LRS vehicle maintenance are to get existing processes audited and incorporate some of the processes learned at Tesla.

 

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