MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
The 6th Maintenance Group metals technology and corrosion control units recently collaborated to create and implement a new wheel painting stand design that will allow Airmen to produce twice as much in half the time.
The 6th MXG corrosion control unit recognized the need to make their painting and priming processes for the KC-135 aircraft on the installation more efficient. Identifying the need for new equipment, the corrosion control unit requested assistance from the 6th MXG metals technology unit for a remedy.
“When the corrosion shop reached out for a redesign, we jumped at the opportunity,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Strittmatter, 927th Maintenance Squadron metals technician. “This was the perfect time for us to demonstrate our skills in a creative and productive way.”
The previous design lacked a mobile base, interchangeable wheel components and was unreasonably sized for the average Airmen.
The process originally consisted of blasting, inspecting, masking, priming, painting and touch-ups with the majority of time spent drying in between steps. In total, Airmen were spending as much as eight hours per wheel and up to 72 hours on a set.
“Before we implemented the updated design, it was taking three full days to complete a single set of wheels,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kurtis Gieger, 6th MXG sheet metal technician. “Now we have been able to double our output in that same span of time.”
Over the course of a month, Strittmatter and his team developed an alternative design that included space for two differently sized sets of wheels and a free rotating component all using equipment and resources available in his shop.
The major improvement in the design came from the free rotating component which allows Airmen access to 100% of the wheel while painting. This change was monumental because it completely removed the time spent drying the wheels prior to touching up missed components.
To ensure the quality of the equipment, Strittmatter maintained constant communication with the corrosion shop, taking their feedback and implementing it into later designs.
Strittmatter and the metals technology unit performed numerous safety evaluations as they ran the design through the 6th MXG chain of command and prior to implementing it in the workplace.
Currently, Strittmatter and the metals technology unit are in the approval process to push the design across the Air Force. The final design requires minor adjustments to accommodate alternate aircraft tires.
“We have been working closely with the Air Force Research Lab to push the directive to other bases,” Strittmatter said. “They have been able to take our design and develop a 3D rendering that will hopefully be used by other installations facing similar issues.”
As the 6th Air Refueling Wing transitions from operating the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft to the KC-46 Pegasus aircraft in the coming years, new adaptive technology will be integral in ensuring the wing is able to carry out their mission at every level.
“This is the kind of innovation that we love to see,” said Air Force Col. Charity Banks, 6th MXG commander. “If you see a problem, fix it. Maintainers charge the storm!”