Tool kit aids logisticians, program managers

20 Feb 2007 | Brenda Robinson and Dean DeBee

Has this ever happened to you? An aircraft modification kit is sent to your unit. Upon receipt, you verify the kit has all the parts listed on the inventory and review the modification instructions. Satisfied, you schedule one of your multi-million dollar aircraft for incorporation of the new capability.

After you start work and make electrical wiring or structural changes that cannot be undone you discover the modification kit is missing vital pieces that were not on the original parts listing. Your expensive aircraft is now a static display, unable to perform its mission while the agonizingly slow process of figuring out what went wrong takes place.

This scenario is one example of a product support problem. Product support is a continuous and collaborative set of activities that establish and maintain the operational capability of a system, subsystem, or major end item throughout its life cycle. It is a cradle-to-grave effort to plan, design, acquire, supply, repair, operate and retire a warfighter capability.

In 2005, Air Force requirements to promote a better understanding spurred the creation of the Product Support Campaign, or PSC. It's a revitalization effort to improve and standardize product support throughout the Air Force. The effort was co-championed by Barbara Westgate, Executive Director at Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command; Blaise Durante, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Integration, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition; and Michael Aimone, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.

As part of the PSC, focus areas teams concentrated on improvement areas identified through value stream mapping that would have the greatest impact on product support. Each focus area team was comprised of multi-functional acquisition and sustainment professionals from across the Air Force dedicated to improving product support.

One such team was the Process Focus Team. It was led by Eilanna Price, Chief of Logistics for the 77th Aeronautical Systems Wing here. Co-champions included Fran Duntz, Electronic Systems Center Deputy for Acquisition at Hanscom AFB, Mass.; and Kenneth Percell, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center Executive Director at Robins AFB, Ga.

The culmination of this team's deliverables resulted in the Life Cycle Logistics Management Tool Kit consisting of the logistics process matrix, 31 logistics checklists and the logistics kneepad reference. The tool kit is a helpful reference for logisticians or program managers performing logistics-related tasks during a product's life cycle.

"These new standardized processes are intended to capitalize on lessons learned and allow more efficient processes to be used in executing a strong product support program." said Ms. Price.

"The tool kit will help program and logistics managers in all program and staff offices move through the Product Support realm with greater credibility and accuracy," said Ms. Duntz. "The development of standardized processes, flow charts and checklists simplify the tasks that need to be done in order to field and support our warfighting systems."

Maj Gen Art Morrill, Director of Logistics, HQ AFMC/A4 and Logistics Officer Association Wright Brothers Chapter Advisor, is championing these transformation efforts.

"With AFMC's growing role as a full spectrum support command, we're absolutely committed to the deployment and institutionalization of the Life Cycle Logistics Management Tool kit and related enabling devices," the general said.

The team's tools are to be incorporated into the Expeditionary Combat Support System after completion of on-going Logistics Enterprise Architecture certification. Additionally, the team worked with the Air Force Institute of Technology and incorporated product support process training into AFIT courses SYS 281, Air Force Acquisition and Sustainment, and SYS 400, Current Topics in Acquisition and Sustainment.

Ms. Price and her team members have also built an informational road show and will present it to AFMC product and air logistics center in February.

The team's handiwork likely will leave an indelible mark on AFMC and the Air Force.

"The AFMC vision of 'War-Winning Capabilities ... On Time, On Cost' will be better served through the use of standardized processes." Ms. Duntz said. "Speed and credibility will undoubtedly improve, our people will be better able to deliver products and services with complete cradle to grave support planning and execution that meet today's warfighter needs."

Anyone interested in the tool kit or road show brief can find links to them in the "Products, Services and Tools" section of the HQ AFMC/A4A Air Force Portal Web Page.

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