WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio: As part of the Repair Network Integration initiative, the Band 4-8 receiver, a critical component to the defensive avionics suite aboard the B-1B bomber, was chosen for a live test in order to validate key concepts associated with integrating the repair network.
Repair of the receiver long has been troublesome due to sub-components difficult to keep in stock and due to the fact that repair is spread unevenly across the country.
Historically, the receiver always had hovered around a 15-25 percent Requisition Objective fill rate, which meant that at least one mission capable aircraft was left waiting for this one part. Evaluation of the existing capability and capacity quickly revealed a known constraint to repair production: parts. Availability of shop-replaceable components supplied through contract vendors was found deficient.
By applying the developed core management processes to the receiver’s repair processes, the receiver RO fill rate climbed to over 100 percent within the first 60 days of this test and currently remains at this level.
With the integration and collaboration of network managers with supply chain managers on the repair requirement, ownership of the requirement and workload or production plans to satisfy the requirement, the repair network was able to more proactively respond to this demand, plan resolution to constraints and increase repair production without detrimental effects on other repair nodes.
Contracts currently in place did not allow for flexibility to meet changing demands. Therefore, one key to success was engaging contract vendors and collaborating with them to be more flexible through sharing Air Force requirements on a regular basis, allowing them to meet the requirement.
Once consistent communication and discussion of the requirement vs. production began, the repair contractors took more ownership of and better understood “their” network and its full function. This was a force multiplier and truly the difference between success and failure of this test.
The success of the 4-8 receiver live test came in many forms, and some were unforeseen. At the outset, many technicians and managers associated with the day-to-day repair of this receiver did not think meeting the actual quarterly requirement would be possible; historically it had never been met. There was a consensus that other critical B-1 electronic warfare components would be pushed into a negative supply posture due to the attention the 4-8 receivers would be receiving. However, that turned out to not be the case.
The repair network manager applied standard core management processes to help resolve low RO percentages and an inability to meet the demand. After seeing the results, repair network managers are furthering efforts to collaborate and adjust contracts to obtain increased sustained production to meet demand without adversely affecting production for other B-1 repair nodes.