News: Small shop, big savings
Story by Master Sgt. David Miller
UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - During the summer months at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing a properly working air conditioner is a priority for Airmen and for aircraft assigned here supporting decisive combat airpower and 30 percent of U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s daily air tasking order sorties.
Aerospace ground equipment technicians duplicate aircraft systems on the ground and when a critical part of the air conditioners started to fail, a two-person shop worked together to create a solution which saved production time, time to order and ship, and maintenance dollars.
Tech. Sgt. Andrew Wahlin and Staff Sgt. Nickolas Hill make up the 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron aircraft flight equipment back shop. These two airmen took the initiative to replace 44 worn air deflectors for 22 air conditioning units that are valued at nearly $172,000 each.
“We received the technical order and an air deflector and created the same product with material we had on hand,” said Hill, the AFE back shop assistant NCO in charge, who is deployed from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., and a Prince George, Va., native.
The deflectors help in the efficiency of the air conditioner and prolong the life of the unit. The air deflectors installed on the units deflect hot exhaust air which is blown up and away from the intake, allowing the intake to pull cooler ambient air in.
For the two Airmen, the process took nearly 40 minutes to complete one air deflector.
“I started out a bit slow on the first one I sewed,” said Hill. “I got faster and more confident in my sewing skills as I made more of the deflectors.”
The 44 flaps the sergeants made saved nearly $17,000, not including shipping costs.
Wahlin, the AFE back shop NCO in charge, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., and a Melby, Minn., native said, “We fabricate items here to repair parachutes and survival equipment for all bases in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility. The air conditioning air deflectors were reverse engineered.”
“Other units know we exist and we have skills that can save time and money,” said Capt. John Bruyere, 379th EOSS aircraft flight equipment officer, deployed from Laughlin AFB, Texas and hails from Houston. “They can come over and get a cheaper alternative that is just as good as the manufacturer’s product.”