Airman’s Idea pays off in time and money
By Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 21, 2014
PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. -- Under the Air Force's "Every Dollar Counts" campaign, an Oregon Air National Guard Airman's innovative idea will help save time in the work place and more than 2 million dollars when implemented Air Force wide.
Master Sgt. Michael Chandler, 142nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintenance avionics back shop technician, was working on a better way to test the main interface cables of one of the main test stations; cables that could take up to eight hours per set to inspect and repair.
"There are over 400 pins in each connector and the process is tedious to physically check each pin with a multimeter," said Chandler.
The cables are used to connect the Electronic Systems Test Set to test and repair the radar, communication, and navigation equipment from the F-15 Eagles the 142nd Fighter Wing flies.
Chandler recalled how brainstorming and a desire for efficiency helped develop a cable tester prototype, which uses LED technology and parts obtained in the DOD supply system.
"It was important that the tester be constructed of stock listed parts and that anybody could easily build and use it," he said.
To replicate each tester for other F-15 units in the Air Force will cost about $18,900.00 each and can be made in about one week by several technicians. Chandler is currently working on getting the device fielded to all Air Force units that currently fly the F-15 models.
Originally, Chandler submitted the device to the Air Force Patent office, but was not awarded a patent from the proposal. Undeterred, he submitted the idea to the Air Force suggestion program and received a monetary award for $5,000.00 in February of this year.
"My overall goal was to make our job easier and develop something the Air Force could own the rights to," he said.
For Chandler, the creative process behind designing the tester has roots in the National Guard's Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) program. In 2008, Chandler was trained as a CPI facilitator and now focuses his knowledge on helping others to find ways to identify and reduce waste, and produce more efficiency in the workplace actions Airmen do every day.
"One big take-away from the CPI training was the idea of keeping the customer (end user) in mind for any process improvement," said Chandler.
The next step for the new device is getting them made and fielded to other F-15 units. Chandler hopes this can be accomplished within the next year, even if the 142nd has to build some of them here for distribution.
While he is pleased with the monetary award, Chandler noted he was even more satisfied in making the job easier for others while at the same time speeding up support to the customer.
"Getting these in everyone's hand to make their jobs easier was the biggest reason behind the entire idea," he said.
He also stated, "(He) could not have completed the project without the support of his leadership and his co-workers who provided the time needed for designing it, input on engineering problems, and helped build key parts of the final tester."