Science and Technology News

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Info exchange facilitates change

by Maj Bruce R. Hill, Jr.
Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center

8/27/2015 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Knowledge can make for positive change and strengthen an organization. The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center Force Improvement Program team is gaining knowledge through the exchange of information with units throughout the center, strengthening relationships with missile and bomber wing customers.

In June, the AFNWC FIP team met with members of the 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, to gain an understanding of how Air Force Materiel Command supports intercontinental ballistic missile maintenance, and how AFNWC can better support its customers. The effort supports the AFNWC commander's intent to improve the force.

"By shadowing a maintenance team we got a first-hand look into their day-to-day operations," said Capt. Michael J. Parker, Physicist and Nuclear Engineer and FIP team volunteer. "We got to learn what works for them and what doesn't."

It all started in 2014 when AFNWC leadership and the original FIP team discussed the benefit of talking with the customer in person to see how AFNWC could better support them.

Traveling to the Cowboy State was both helpful and enlightening with respect to better understanding the customer. Although issues exist that are not in AFNWC's purview, some can be handled by the center. For example, an issue brought up by the 90th Maintenance Group regarding sensor problems gave the team insight as to what really happens when water seeps into missile silos.

"When water collects around a sensor, an alarm will alert six personnel to be dispatched," said Capt. Jordan K. Tabayoyon, 90th MMXS facilities flight commander.  "The response to this alarm is priority one, which means we must respond as soon as possible to determine the issue. To do so requires us to divert personnel and resources already scheduled for other tasks."

Since 2013, teams were dispatched 42 times only to find that the alerts were caused by negligible amounts of water seepage.

"We contacted the missile engineering office at F.E. Warren who's in charge of that modification and tied them in with the Rivet MILE teams at Hill AFB, Utah, to reconsider the water sensor locations," said Kent T. Hyer, Ground Division Mechanical Branch chief and FIP team member located at Hill AFB.

Now that the connection is made between the two organizations, relationships develop that foster cooperation and understanding. This allows the FIP team to move into a monitoring position until the issue with the sensors becomes rectified.

More than a dozen observations were made by the FIP team, some of which led to rapid results such as the restored function of an Air Launch Control System antennae and Fast-Rising B-Plug. The team will work similar issues and keep the AFNWC commander apprised of status, such as with the water sensors.

Additionally, the FIP team will share its observations with Air Force Global Strike Command, the 90th MMXS's major command, for its consideration.

"It is results like these that I expect from the FIP team, because we have a responsibility to the warfighter (customer)," said Maj. Gen. Sandra E. Finan, AFNWC commander. "The FIP team sometimes has to dig deep to get to the root of an issue, which includes meeting with the warfighter. By doing so, we help ensure they get the quality products and services they expect and deserve from us."

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