AFSO 21: Doing more with less

  • Published
  • By Col. Alan H. Lerner
  • 512th Maintenance Group commander
For years now, we've been asked to do more with less - less equipment, dollars and personnel. It got to the point at least 10 years ago when it became generally accepted by all that we will be doing "less with less." So, why did I choose such an optimistic title for this article? Simply this: AFSO 21. Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century is not a theory or trendy idea but a concept that is already proving itself here with Team Dover. 

The concept is Continuous Process Improvement Initiatives. This multifaceted program is effective because issues to be resolved can be evaluated at varying degrees of complexity. Being a maintainer, I'll use maintenance examples. 

With the stand up of the first regional C-5 Isochronal Inspection facility here, the first year's results were less than hoped for. The inspections and the end product were highly successful but were taking too long to flow through the ISO process to meet Air Mobility Command's requirement to inspect approximately 30 aircraft per year. 

AFSO 21 had the tools to help reduce dock time per aircraft. Two examples of these tools are the very detailed Value Stream Mapping and the more direct and simple approach of Just Do It. Both of these methods have been used many times with great success to reduce aircraft maintenance inefficiencies. 

After a Rapid Improvement Event team Value Stream Mapped an area, identified as having a large amount of non-productive time, the team developed a fix which eliminated many hours of wasted time per aircraft. The issue was the amount of time required by the Fabrication Branch to travel from the ISO dock to their shop to repair or create replacement aircraft panels and then return to the dock. By locating some of their equipment within the dock area, these specialists could fix and reinstall damaged parts in a lot less time. This is just one of the ways the folks working in the dock have been able to flow an aircraft through the ISO inspection in as little as 12.6 days. 

The Propulsion Shop had an equally impressive improvement while using the Just Do It method. Those folks realized if they located some spare large engine parts inside their shop versus stored outdoors, they not only could save time retrieving these parts, but they also would not have to open up their roll-up doors on a cold winter day and lose their building heat. Now, that's efficiency. Every shop in maintenance is active in RIEs, and all are finding success. 

If you haven't personally gotten involved with AFSO 21, learn more about it; because, I guarantee you will in the very near future. No matter what your career field is, you'll need to understand AFSO 21 and what it can do to help improve operational processes and reduce inefficiencies in order to master doing more with less.