***image1***The Air Force Repair Enhancement Program at Ramstein keeps aircraft in the air and tax- payer dollars in the bank by fixing equipment that is normally thrown away, or sent to a maintenance depot for repair.
Air Force maintainers saved taxpayers more than $190 million since 1999, said Maj. Brent Hoffman, program manager for the Air Force Repair Enhancement Program at the Pentagon.
“Base maintenance technicians realized (in the 1980s), we were throwing away expendable items that could be repaired quickly, and those repairs would be cheaper than buying a new item,” he said. “Eventually, the technicians developed the expertise and procured the equipment necessary to repair circuit cards and other items.”
Many maintenance “old timers” can recall a similar program, “Gold Flag,” from which AFREP evolved. It was an Air Force-wide maintenance program where specialists repaired expendable items. When the policy was rewritten in September 2001, the program was given the AFREP name.
Eight of 10 major commands participate in the program. Those bases that have embraced the program, such as Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, have been successful. In 2002 and 2003, their AFREP saved the 52nd Airlift Wing more than $2 million each year in expendable repairs and replacements costs, said Staff Sgt. Christopher Barti, a Spangdahlem AFREP technician.
The AFREP here has grown from meager beginnings, said Staff Sgt. Michael Davis, Ramstein AFREP technician, and one of three AFREP team members.
“We had to search the entire KMC looking for hand-me-down tools, equipment and work benches when we first started,” said Sergeant Davis. “When we started showing some progress, we were able to buy new tools and equipment.”
Master Sgt. Marcus Brown, Ramstein’s AFREP manager, began the task of assembling AFREP in October 2002 with an empty room, no equipment or tools and a few ideas. He started promoting and advertising the program by contacting nearly every unit in the KMC about possible equipment repairs. He also coordinated repair contracts with several civilian repair facilities at prices far less than what they usually charge.
In addition to repair costs savings, the serviceable return time on most AFREP repaired items has been reduced significantly. As of today, AFREP has saved Ramstein over $198,000 for fiscal 2004 compared to $218,700 for all of fiscal 2003.