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AFSO21 system shows pay off, saves man-hours, money

Tech. Sgt. Daniel Renfrow, 100th Maintenance Squadron Fuels Systems Repair, holds a kanban card showing ordering information for benchstock items. Using the kanban system saves the shop many manhours each month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

Tech. Sgt. Daniel Renfrow, 100th Maintenance Squadron Fuels Systems Repair, holds a kanban card showing ordering information for benchstock items. Using the kanban system saves the shop many manhours each month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Karen Abeyasekere)

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- The 100th Maintenance Squadron Fuels System Repair Flight is saving manhours by the truckload, thanks to a new Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century initiative. 

The flight has implemented the kanban system for their benchstock items, providing them quick and clear indications when items need ordering.
 
Meaning "signal," the kanban alerts signal a cycle of replenishment for production and materials, in order to maintain an orderly and efficient flow of materials, according to Master Sgt. Bryan Reents, 100th Air Refueling Wing AFSO21 Office. 

"We keep 50 percent, at a minimum, of our benchstock items bagged, along with loose stock in our bins," said Senior Airman Aron Loria, 100th MXS Fuel Systems journeyman and alternate benchstock monitor, who regularly keeps track of the kanban system. 

"A card that has details of each item - including part number, serial number, bin location and nomenclature - is kept in each bag. When someone uses up the last of the loose stock, he (or she) takes the card from the bag and puts it into the 'Needs to be Ordered' bin, leaving the items in the bag," explained Airman Loria.
 
There are also red and green tags in each compartment in the stock bins which provide a visual indication of stock. Green shows there are plenty of the item in the bin, red signals the items need to be reordered, and when put in the middle position, it shows the item has been ordered. 

While the benchstock monitor checks the bin for items to be ordered on a regular basis, the system generally controls and maintains itself. 

"This system has saved us a lot of time," said Airman Loria. "It used to take at least one to two hours to do a visual indication, as you had to physically count every single item - now we don't have to do nearly as much counting. When there is just the bagged stock left in the bins, we know we've reached 50 percent of our stock levels and need to reorder the item."

"It's definitely easier and makes it extremely easy to order parts," he said.
"You can do a quick check and be done in five minutes."