MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
People, money and time are critical to the world's greatest Air Force, and MacDill Air Force Base proves daily that people are air power's greatest asset through their creation of a new continuous process improvement working group.
The 6th Maintenance Group at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, calls the group the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats team, a platform where individuals share ideas and execute innovative operating methods within career fields, ranging from maintenance to force support in both active duty and reserve units.
The SWOT team’s focus is to use strengths and opportunities to maximize Air Force resources (money) and increase efficiency (time). The 6th Air Mobility Wing and 927th Air Refueling Wing successfully identified ways that maximized resources at MacDill, but their innovations extended further than that.
The Air Force adopted some of the team's ideas, including a standardized process to inspect and repair top coat primer. This primer lines aircraft fuel tanks and is notorious for dislodging and clogging engine fuel filters, but the team's new process slashed a majority of aircraft downtime--ensuring even higher mission readiness.
“The team also established an improved way to document inspection findings, which was benchmarked by Air Mobility Command and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center,” said Capt. Kierstin Flores, an executive officer assigned to the 6th MXG. “The team’s efforts to identify and eradicate top coat saved nearly 220 million dollars in engine damages and ensured the KC-135’s endless contribution to rapid global mobility.”
This team relies on the shared and differed experiences of each individual in order to continuously bring new ideas to light.
“The strength of our CPI program is directly due to the strong active duty and reserve relationship we have in the maintenance group,” said Col. Dale Reed, commander of the 6th MXG. “They are able to meld the experiences of the reserve personnel with the experience of the active duty maintainers who have seen processes work differently at multiple bases.”
The team also eliminates weaknesses and threats that may hinder mission success.
“When we created our working group we decided on the name SWOT because just like a SWAT team, we want to break down barriers,” said TSgt. Eric Holton, NCO in charge of the maintenance flight support section assigned to the 6th Maintenance Squadron. “By breaking down barriers, we can educate people on the importance of continuous process improvement and get people thinking about ways to improve the way we do things.”
The team encourages individuals to be bold and speak up about processes that can be improved.
“We are kind of like the first sergeant of CPI,” said Holton. “Maybe you don’t know how to start or what can be changed, but if you have a process that can be improved, you can come straight to us and we can take a look at how we can save resources.”
The team is working to reach out to other organizations around the wing in order to offer their assistance.
“One of the most recent processes that was brought to our attention was expired hazardous material waste in the maintenance group,” said Holton. “We used to have a centralized area where everyone would come to get their materials, which meant there was very little accountability and a whole team that had to man that shop.”
“We decentralized that process allowing each shop to be in charge of the materials they needed, saving man hours and money from expired waste.”
These are just a few examples of processes that the SWOT team has worked on.
“We are not hiding our successes,” said Reed. “We have been able to refine processes and slash waste from our operations, which has led to improved and innovative changes to technical orders Air Force wide.”
This team also works with the 6th Air Mobility Wing CPI program ran by Virginia Modglin, a management analyst assigned to the 6th Force Support Squadron.
“As a mentor to this team, I have attended several of their team meetings and am filled with utter enthusiasm and excitement to see how they are developing their program, growing as practitioners and to see the fresh ideas they come up with,” said Modglin. “Each one of them brings something unique to the table, each has a sincere desire to make the organization and Air Force a better place to work.”
People are the key to air power, and MacDill's SWOT team provides an avenue to prove that each and every day.