MHAFB 366th LRS new tool proves the benefits of innovation
By Airman 1st Class Andrew Kobialka, 366th Fighter Wing
/ Published March 15, 2019
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Few things are more familiar than the start of an engine. Even though people may always recognize that sound, not all engines are made the same. Cars, trucks, buses, snow plows and a myriad of other vehicles require custom diagnostic tools and knowledgeable technicians to keep them at peak performance. For the 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron, their mission of maintaining every land vehicle on the entire base can be a daunting task.
366th LRS is among the first squadrons in the Air Force to begin testing an all-in-one diagnostic tool that eliminates the need to have many versatile tools and regularly outsourced vehicle maintenance.
Most manufacturers have proprietary software built into their vehicles that require maintainers to use a specific tool and pay a subscription to diagnose problems. Now, LRS only needs to use the proprietary diagnostic software on a diesel laptop platform.
“It allows us to get in and diagnose and also program new components when they are replaced,” said Tom Mattern, the 366th LRS vehicles management training lead.
The tool is fully compatible with most vehicles spanning from light-duty to massive heavy-duty vehicles. Mattern explained that without Texa capabilities, the same diagnostic power could require up to eight or more individual tools, relying on outsourcing the maintenance.
The old process here required submitting to proprietary demands, which takes time.
“We used to have to wait weeks at a time for contractors to come out,” said Capt. Danielle Rella, 366th LRS vehicle management flight commander.
Rella explained that in order to receive a contractor’s diagnosis, LRS Airmen would spend 50 man-hours towing vehicles from here to Boise. With the new tool, Airmen are able to find problems and fix them in-house.
“From a training perspective, now I only have to train Airmen on one tool rather than 12,” said Mattern.
The improvements provided by the diagnostic tool enhances LRS efficiency and it also enhances readiness for the entire wing. And the benefits don’t stop there:
The cost-savings potential is notable, Rella said. The software, platform and associated cables cost $10,000 but is projected to save $12,000 annually. Meaning it will pay for itself in less than one year and continue to save money for years to come.
These savings come from the cost of contractor repair temporary duty (TDY) and various diagnostic software subscriptions.
Not only does this tool prove to increase efficiency, Airmen on deployments will be better equipped to do their job down range.
“Deployment ready vehicle rates will go up,” Mattern said. “And once down range, Airmen can have one tool to do all the jobs they need.”
The opportunity to streamline the maintenance process and reduce costs will only improve our readiness here and abroad.
“Once we finish analyzing the performance capabilities of this tool, it could have huge effects Air Force wide,” Mattern said.
Gunfighters have a history of innovation, and the Airmen of 366th LRS aims to continue to build upon that legacy.
“Innovating to be faster and more efficient,” Rella said. “This is the epitome of enhanced readiness and we are proud to be laying down that groundwork.”