Spang kicks off first wing-wide AFSO21 event to streamline processes

(US Air Force graphic/Senior Airman Gary Moore)

(US Air Force graphic/Senior Airman Gary Moore)

Master Sgt. Brian Schexinder, 52nd Logisistics Readiness Squadron fuels information service center superintendent, and Tech. Sgt. Gary Ranger, 52nd LRS fuels distribution NCOIC, re-think their work processes while participating in the Spangdahlem Air Base's first wing-wide AFSO21 event Feb. 26 through March 2. This AFSO21 event hopes to streamline processes between sortie generation and scheduilng between the maintenance and operations squadrons. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Eydie Sakura)

Master Sgt. Brian Schexinder, 52nd Logisistics Readiness Squadron fuels information service center superintendent, and Tech. Sgt. Gary Ranger, 52nd LRS fuels distribution NCOIC, re-think their work processes while participating in the Spangdahlem Air Base's first wing-wide AFSO21 event Feb. 26 through March 2. This AFSO21 event hopes to streamline processes between sortie generation and scheduilng between the maintenance and operations squadrons. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Eydie Sakura)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, GERMANY -- An Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century event kicked off Monday and ran through today in preparation for the 52nd Operations and Maintenance Groups' first LEAN event this year. 

In a letter to Airmen last year, Michael W. Wynne, Secretary of the Air Force, said AFSO21 is a dedicated effort to maximize value and minimize waste in our operations. 

"This is a Value Stream Analysis event, where individuals from multiple disciplines have a voice in the future state of sortie scheduling and generation. Individuals from multiple disciplines put a sticky note down for each step they currently perform in the course of doing their job," said 1st Lt. Sean Scruggs, 52nd MXG AFSO21 representative and 52nd Component Maintenance Squadron Accessories Flight commander. "We didn't even scratch the surface because we haven't filled out the time sheets that give more definition and that covers how long it takes to do the job and how many approvals each step takes." 

From an airman first class to a lieutenant colonel, the room was full of subject-matter experts in their particular field, and sticky notes lined the walls from nearly one end to the other. 

One side of the room was swarming with the maintenance team, whose responsibility was to map out sortie generation. The maintenance and operations team on the parallel wall was mapping out sortie scheduling. 

"The emphasis is to hone the wing's scheduling process with the goal of promoting stability in the flying hour program and reducing stress on the force -- a U.S. Air Forces in Europe goal," the lieutenant said. "As you can imagine, if we had the time, (the room) would look like the Human Genome project." 

Once the mapping process is done, the team will identify value steps and eliminate non-value added steps in an effort to make the process better. The wing is striving to bring the work down from 52 hours a week back toward 40 hours while sustaining operational needs. 

"The LEAN event is very rewarding, but mentally fatiguing," said Senior Master Sgt. Juliette Jennings, 52nd Maintenance Operations Squadron flight superintendent. "I am really optimistic that we are identifying real issues that impact our processes today. This will allow us to really address the actual problems and make us more efficient." 

The purpose of this AFSO21 event is to give the pilots the aircraft they need to accomplish their mission with the limited resources available, she said. 

The overarching goals at the 52nd Fighter Wing are to implement a change in culture and the way people think and do their jobs. The base also strives to be self-sufficient in conducting and achieving AFSO21 events independently. 

"AFSO21 needs to be more than just a buzz word," said Chief Master Sgt. Terry Norris, 52nd FW AFSO21 program manager. "We have been on the fast track with AFSO21 since last year, and our goal is to see our program become a benchmark for the rest of the Air Force." 

Airmen at Spangdahlem Air Base are analyzing their processes to find ways to work smarter, not harder, all without compromising safety or putting resources at risk, Lieutenant Scruggs said. 

"We are focused on how well we can do our job to produce an aircraft without breaking the back of those who do the work, and we hope to eliminate waste by reengineering our processes," he said. "We have come up with numerous ideas on how to make the process work better -- some will be implemented rather soon, some will not. However, leadership is engaged at all levels and is deeply concerned with reducing 'stress on the force.'"