Airmen innovate water damage protection cover
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 731st Air Mobility Squadron won the Air Mobility Command 2014 Chief of Staff Team Excellence Award June 25, 2014.
To compete, teams must complete a process improvement within 2 years prior to the competition. Afterwards, teams submit a package with their improvement idea and the details about it.
The 731st AMS won for their reusable pallet covers, created to protect pallets being stored outdoors from water damage.
"We do not have indoor storage capability here at Osan Air Base... up until 2011 we would have 180 incidents of water damage per year," said Capt. Jonathan Wood, 731st AMS officer in charge of airfreight.
Due to the amount of incidents AMC mandated to put a third layer of plastic on the pallets. Although the extra layer reduced the number of cases, water damage still existed. To be 100 percent compliant the team needed to think of a more effective process.
"In early 2012 our senior NCOs got together and they started pressing forward with this reusable pallet cover idea," said Wood. "We started using what we refer to as first generation reusable pallet covers in late 2012, began tracking their progress and tracking their usage. The progress showed 100 percent effective with absolutely no water damage."
While the first generation covers showed progress, they still had challenges to overcome. The covers were heavy and labor intensive.
"Our Airmen that were out there putting (covers) on and taking them off had some constructive feedback and we listened to them," said Wood. "We went back to the drawing board and we went off that basic idea, but our next one was lighter."
Airman 1st Class Joseph Shank, 731st AMS aircraft services technician, agrees that this cover makes their operation better.
"Ever since we started using these pallet covers, we've had 100 percent protection," said Shank. "There was no water damage, we were able to ship (pallets) out smoothly and they got to their destination without any problems. They are the best things we've ever came up with as a team."
Additionally, this innovation will save the Air Force a lot of money.
"We processed 5,800 pallets in 2012, 5084 pallets in 2013, and are on track for approximately 6,000 pallets in 2014," said Wood. "So it was estimated we will save $44,000 annually with this program off and running like it is now."
After winning at the AMC level, the 731st AMS will be competing at the Air Force level. The team is excited about the difference they are making.
"If we do win at the Air Force level, we will be taking a trip to Washington D.C. to brief Air force officials at the Pentagon on our topic," said Wood. "We've enhanced mission capabilities and our 'best practice' is being shared throughout the Air Force to improve operational performance. We're pretty proud of that."