Wings hold deployment processing value stream mapping event

  • Published
  • By Ron Mullan
  • 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Armed with packets of multi-colored sticky notes, 25 subject matter experts from the 72nd Air Base Wing’s 72nd Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 552nd Air Control Wing’s Deployment Readiness Section convened to evaluate the current deployment processing system.

The group was looking for ways to improve the overall process flow and eliminate inefficient methods of operation. When they were finished, one whole wall of a classroom in Bldg. 260 was covered in a rainbow of sticky notes.

Lt. Col. E. Cliff Williams, chief of 552nd ACW Deployment Readiness, said the group identified 38 action items over the course of six duty days. Areas of concern included cargo preparation, system access and training, passenger processing, schedule of events and medical preparation.

“I don’t know if that’s a lot of action items, but they certainly represent appropriate and meaningful action items,” said Ron Stencel, 72nd LRS Deployments and Distribution Flight chief. “There are probably more out there; however, the team decided these were items that would make a difference within a very detailed process.”

In fact, the flow had never been detailed to this level before.

The group used Art of the Possible principles, coupled with Continuous Process Improvement tools. “What AoP did was enable us to identify those 38 action items or constraints in order to improve our processes,” said Michael Frasco, 72nd LRS Air Terminal Function chief.

While the action items targeted specific areas, Stencel said “they’re not just fixing things for the sake of fixing them.” Identifying constraints and fixing them will have an impact on the flow time and the quality of the process, he added.

One important take-away from the whole experience was a better understanding of what each player brings to the table.

“I think everyone left a little more grounded,” said Capt. Kale Pearson, 552nd ACW assistant wing deployment officer. “We had 25 SMEs in the room, each having a very good idea of what their job was, but less understanding about the role others played in this process.”

Stencel agreed.

“It was a nice voyage of discovery, finding out what the entire enterprise does,” he said.

72nd ABW Commander Col. Paul Filcek noted that value stream mapping events can have an enormous impact on meeting mission requirements.

“Bringing together subject matter experts from across the entire deployment process enterprise, working together to identify constraints to the system and eliminating them, will result in increased proficiency in flow time and a more efficient use of manpower and resources,” the colonel said.

The next step is to implement and validate countermeasures during a Phase I exercise, or a real world deployment, to see how well the group’s suggestions work.

“Some items may require a Rapid Improvement Event and others may require more data being collected,” Stencel said.

A key lesson learned from the event is being able to save significant time within the deployment process and to do so with fewer errors, rework and mission delays.

552nd ACW Commander Col. Alain Poisson lauded the group for their efforts.

“Our Airmen are expected to be ready to fight in defense of the homeland and ready to rapidly deploy tonight to fight abroad tomorrow, regardless of where the squadron is in their deployment cycle,” said Poisson. “This event, and the partnership it represents, is a monumental first step in ensuring the entire wing and our critical warfighting capability can get out the door on short notice.”

Freeing up processing time is critical, Williams said.

“Shortening the process time means more time to be with family or more time for a commander to talk to their deploying personnel,” he said. “When a person is gone for four to six months and even longer, every minute counts.”