|Digital Technology Saves Division Time, Money |
Digital Technology Saves Division Time, Money
By Gail Kulhavy, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Public Affairs.
Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma -- May 16, 2001 (AFPN) -- Transferring paper technical orders to a compact disc is moving the B-1B system support management division here toward a paperless environment and saving about $500,000 in printing costs each year in the process.
Working in partnership with Boeing, the division created a CD library where technical orders can now be accessed on a laptop or stand-alone machine, said Ron Stanberry, technical data specialist.
Ron Stanberry and Debbie Cerda (middle), B1-B Lancer System Support Management Division personnel, and Catherine Johnson, a Boeing contractor, review technical orders on compact discs. A lightweight disc can hold all the information shown stacked on the right with room to spare.
Photo by Margo Wright
Each time a B-1B Lancer is deployed, one or more support planes accompany it, usually KC-135 Stratotankers or C-5 Galaxies, loaded with test equipment, spare parts and technical orders, Stanberry said. Before the CD library, the aircraft's technical orders fit into a single container 6 feet tall, 6 feet long and 4 feet deep, weighing about 1,700 pounds.
"You've now replaced the need for this 1,700 pounds and this space on the accompanying aircraft no longer has to be used for paper," Stanberry said. "It can be used for parts, more equipment or whatever they need, depending on the mission."
While Boeing and other contractors actually transfer the technical order information to CD, division members manage all aspects of the TOs including viability of the information, ensuring user-friendly processes and estimating cost and budget.
"This process saves the Air Force time and money with a potential to save even more," said Pat Norris, logistics management specialist. "We have one book that costs about $15,000 to print, put together and mail, but (it costs) about $490 to put on CD and distribute. We figure there's a potential to save about 80 percent of the current cost of publishing, or more than $500,000 a year.
"Right now, we have more than 200 B-1B TOs digitized," Norris said. "We're working to have every B-1 TO digitized; but over time, every TO across the (air logistics center) will be digitized."
Digitized technical orders can be updated and accessed more easily, according to Norris.
"Changes also become easier because it's also almost instantaneous through the phone line," Norris said. "This sometimes saves us more than a week."
There have been numerous reports generated discussing the differences between paper and CD work processes, he said.
Norris said a U.S. Navy's Office of Training Technology report shows maintenance technicians who use a computer-based electronic document for troubleshooting complete tasks in less than half the time it takes with paper manuals.
The report also showed that novices, using the electronic job aid, can troubleshoot 12 percent faster than experienced technicians using paper manuals.
"That's pretty phenomenal," Norris said.
"We went to McConnell Air Force Base, (Kan.), and took an airman fresh out of basic training who had never seen a digital TO in his life," Stanberry said. "We sat him down at a computer in front of his colonel and master sergeant and within five minutes he was searching the database for his part. He found the part number, the stock number, a diagram of where the part is on the aircraft and a picture of the part and sent the order to supply."
This method of digitization allows for instant page flipping through hyperlinks, said Cloyce Franks, integrated logistics support manager for Boeing.
"You just hop around wherever you need to go -- any graphic, page or table," he said. "Anyone in the field can find a part number, go to the diagram, see placement on the airplane, and then flip to a picture of it and back to a stock number -- instead of six manuals, you're just flipping through data.
"Our aim is that the fellow using the information finds it absolutely easy and takes no time to access the information," Franks said.
There are already about eight B-1B technical order families digitized, Norris said. A family is the term used for all TOs such as job guides and wiring diagram manuals, supporting crew communications or aircraft ground handling and safety, which are digitized and then put on one CD.
"Every TO that gets digitized makes it that much better for the Air Force," Norris said. "Our goal for B-1B digital data is to obtain approval from the Air Combat Command to allow the field to move to a 'paperless' environment on selected TOs by July 1."
(Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)