Gen. Frank Gorenc, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, presented the 86th Airlift Wing $250,000 for winning the Innovation Madness tournament May 1 on Ramstein.
The inaugural competition started with nine wings from around USAFE-AFAFRICA competing with one another in a tournament style match to determine which wing promotes the best innovative culture.
Judges in the contest examined cost-saving changes that wings throughout USAFE-AFAFRICA implemented in the past two years.
“We wanted to inspire competition to come up with as many innovative ideas as possible,” Gorenc said. “The Air Force has a long history of doing things better, faster and cheaper, and the 86th AW has continued that tradition.”
Each wing submitted their innovative ideas along with the money and man-hours saved. Those ideas also included how their units completed the mission in more efficient ways.
In total, the nine wings submitted 477 innovations, saving the Air Force at least $28 million and 115,000 man-hours a year.
“This tournament was a great opportunity to highlight what our folks do every day,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente, 86th AW commander. “The Air Force succeeds because of the Airmen, and though we won the trophy I think the real winners are the Airmen and families across USAFE who can benefit from these savings.”
Among the ideas that netted the 86th AW the top prize is the adjustment of local nationals’ schedules to avoid weekend and holiday work, which resulted in an annual savings of more than $700,000, and the repair of aircraft communication cords in-house rather than outside the Air Force logistics network which saves more than $120,000 per year.
Another idea 86th AW Airmen developed was a way to train medical personnel on-station instead of sending them to another base to become qualified in certain skillsets, saving at least $140,000 per year in travel expenses.
Though the tournament has concluded, the 86 AW Airmen look to the future, aiming for ways to constantly improve.