MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Airman 1st Class Michael Edwards, 5th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment, reads a schematic to prepare work on a refueling station here June 13. Team Minot's AGE works hard to ensure the 5th Bomb Wing is always ready through proven and efficient new maintenance processes, processes which have been benchmarked for use by many other bases. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Crawford)
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Staff Sgt. Stephen Jech, 5th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment, troubleshoots a control panel here June 13. Team Minot's AGE works hard to ensure the 5th Bomb Wing is always ready through proven and efficient new maintenance processes, processes which have been benchmarked for use by many other bases. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Crawford)
by Senior Airman Jessica McConnell
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
7/27/2012 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- They fix several different types of ground equipment used on both the flightline and out in the missile field. Whether it is a bomb lift, munitions loader or a heater, if it's used on the flightline, chances are these Airmen fix it.
"The Airmen of the 5th Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment section support flightline air and electric equipment, provide bomb lifts, maintain munitions loaders, and maintain approximately ten different types of aerospace ground equipment," said 2nd Lt. Lacey Richardson, 5th MXS AGE flight commander. "Basically, we are here to support the flightline. We provide all of the support equipment that is used to get the B-52s off the ground."
Team Minot's AGE works hard to ensure the 5th Bomb Wing is always ready. Their strong effort and motivation is proven through their efficient new maintenance process, a process which has been benchmarked for use by many other bases.
"Before the new process, we used to assign one Airman to one piece of equipment," said Richardson. "That Airman would do everything needed to maintain or fix the equipment. This includes washing, lubricating, fixing the specific problem and then dispatching it back out to the line. This process took about two days on average to fix one piece of equipment."
Richardson said the old process also didn't allow for very good training. She said whenever a more difficult piece of equipment came in to be fixed, that equipment would normally be assigned to a more experienced Airman, leaving the less experienced Airmen without much opportunity for growth.
"The process we have now is basically a cell process," continued Richardson. "There are nine different cells involved. Each cell has a specific duty, whether it be to wash and lubricate, fix the specific type of equipment, or to dispatch the equipment back out to the flightline."
Richardson explained that each cell is assigned a team of four to five Airmen and at least one noncommissioned officer or highly trained senior airman.
"Each team spends one month at each cell," Richardson continued. "This new process not only gets equipment inspected and fixed at a faster rate, but also provides a lot more stability to our Airmen. They are able to plan vacation time and spend a lot more time with their families."
Richardson also said the Airmen receive training a lot faster and become more efficient in their craft using this type of system.
"I really enjoy this job," said Senior Airman Dawn Oris, 5th MXS AGE journeyman. "I like training the other Airmen and fixing the equipment. I feel a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. The only downside is that we can get really busy and easily overwhelmed. Luckily, Airmen in our shop aren't too proud to ask for help, so everything gets done on time."
This efficiency and hard work is recognized by many, not just here in Minot, but also Air Force-wide.
"Other bases have actually come here to see how our process works," said Tech. Sgt. Amanda Williams, 5th MXS AGE floor chief. "They want to follow our lead because everything gets done so much faster and without as many discrepancies."
Richardson said her shop is great and she is very proud of her Airmen and everything they do.
"I always try to remind the Airmen just how important they are," said Richardson. "They play a very crucial role in supporting the mission here. Without them, we wouldn't get buffs off the ground to deliver bombs on target! I'm very proud of the ownership they take in their work and the pride they have in the shop. They make my job easy day in and day out because of their high morale and work ethic. I'm proud of the work they do - people are not going to find a better shop anywhere else at Minot or in the Air Force!"