Bolt inspection tool wins Team Mildenhall innovation award
By Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron, 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 13, 2019
RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Tech. Sgt. Steven Izaguirre, 100th Maintenance Squadron NCO-in-charge of the Non-Destructive Inspections Section, won the Team Mildenhall Innovation of the Quarter Award for the first quarter of 2019.
As part of the NDI team, Izaguirre and his Airmen inspect aircraft parts to ensure they are anatomically sound, free of cracks and defects.
“We provide structural integrity to the aircraft,” Izaguirre said. “We look for microscopic cracks and give peace of mind to both pilots and maintainers.”
During his time at Mildenhall, Izaguirre developed a slot guided inspection carriage to increase the efficiency of the bolt inspection process. The tool is made out of plastic and was produced using a 3D printer.
“Originally, we were only able to inspect seven bolts, but now we’re able inspect 24 bolts at once. We cut our inspection time by 93 percent,“ Izaguirre said.
Izaguirre’s troops have noticed the time savings as well.
“It gives us a lot more time to do other things in the shop,” said Airman 1st Class Clarence Bennett, 100th MXS NDI apprentice. “Having the carriage really does make my job easier.”
In addition to saving time, the slot guided inspection carriage is saving money. The innovation saves upwards of $25,000 per year due to decreased inspection time per bolt.
“The amount of money we are saving is ridiculous,” Bennett said.
Izaguirre’s time and money-saving innovation hasn’t fallen on deaf ears. Air Force leadership has already taken notice.
“It’s being looked at by our Air Force NDI program managers and they are looking to implement it in the technical orders we use to actually do our jobs,” Izaguirre said. “Pacific Air Forces as a whole is interested in using our innovation, and Beale Air Force Base is also testing it.”
After seeing the impact his innovation has made, Izaguirre encourages others to realize improvements in their work centers.
“If you take the time to really write down what the savings are and map it out, you can make it happen,” Izaguirre said. “The technology is there. 3D printing is there. Your innovation might save you some time, or it could save the Air Force millions of dollars.”