86th MXG announces 6S competition winners

Chief Master Sgt. Terry Keene
86th Maintenance Group

***image1***The 86th Maintenance Group announced the winner of its 6S competition at the Maintenance Professional of the Year banquet Saturday.

The 37th Aircraft Maintenance Unit Support Flight won first place in the tournament, which consisted of a four-round playoff between 12 competing flights where judges evaluated everything from facility and equipment cleanliness and marking tape on the floor to office areas. The flight won $2,500 and the 86th Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight won second place and $1,500.

The judges for the final round, Brig. Gen. Jay Lindell, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Director of Logistics, Col. Rob Kane, 86th Airlift Wing commander, and Col. Park Plumb, 86th MXG commander, analyzed initiative, efficiency, productivity and pride in work centers from top to bottom.

“It’s really great to win,” said 2nd Lt. Jhames B. Illanez, 37th AMU Support Flight officer in charge. “Everyone has worked really hard to get us to this level.”

6S is an organizational component taken from an industry initiative called LEAN that improves processes for manufacturing. The maintenance depots implemented 6S with a great deal of success, said Colonel Plumb, who implemented the concept in October.

“The USAFE maintenance directorate conducted a no-notice inspection as the 6S competition was in full swing and it noted ‘The maintenance group’s implementation of 6S principles made its Combat Flightline program soar – work areas sparkled, unit pride was manifested throughout. … It’s true what they say in the 86th MXG – ‘Maintenance Rocks!’” said Colonel Plumb.

The elements of 6S are to sort, straighten, scrub, (ensure) safety, standardize and sustain. The group began sorting by getting rid of everything that was not needed; literally truckloads of items were returned to the supply system or thrown away, said Master Sgt. Keith Daniels, 37th AMU Support Flight NCO in charge.

The next step – straighten – involved organizing everything in the shop, office or flightline and putting it in a certain place, he said. According to 6S rules, most items require specific-colored tape boxed around the item on the floor to ensure return after use and ease of accountability.

“Scrubbing involved a massive cleanup to include painting and polishing. Then safety was looked at with a critical eye,” said Lieutenant Illanez.
Lastly, tasks were standardized by developing checklists to keep things in order and processes were put in place to sustain or keep up the program.
Many sections were able to increase productivity.

“6S has helped us organize; we have quicker access to items for the customer and have maximized the square footage in our facility,” said Sergeant Daniels.
“This is only the beginning for the maintenance group as we continue to look for opportunities to improve and ways to save time, money and space within our organization,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Marron, 37th AMU Support Flight superintendent. “Who knows, maybe as people PCS in and out of the organization, they will embrace the 6S concept and spread it across the entire Air Force.”