It’s a quintessential American trait; if something’s broken or not working correctly, figure out a way to fix it yourself.
Nowadays in trucking, though, this “do-it-yourself” or “DIY” approach is often discounted due to the highly complex nature of modern commercial vehicles – especially when it comes to maintenance.
[And when it comes to logistics software, the DIY approach may actually cost more and create bigger headaches in the bargain.]
However, where fabrication is concerned, the DIY approach isn’t quite dead yet – something C. J. Slifko, a retired U.S. Air Force senior master sergeant now serving as a civilian vehicle mechanic with the 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS), recently proved.
“Sometimes you can’t help what happens when a truck breaks, so our whole [command] chain very strongly encourages us to come up with new ideas and new ways to save money,” he explained. “I’m all for that.”
Here’s what happened: 22nd LRS maintenance personnel noticed that a sweeper truck needed for removing dirt and debris off the flight line wasn’t working properly, so they took it to the vehicle maintenance shop.
Slifko said he and his coworkers inspected the sweeper and discovered the entire roof poised to collapse due to rust.
“The [sweeper truck] manufacturer actually sells a kit to replace the entire hopper assembly, but it ran in the neighborhood of $65,000,” he noted.
Instead, Slifko proposed 22nd LRS fabricate the piece in-house, and quickly fanned his repair team across McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas to enlist the support of various other shops, including the 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) environmental element and welder teams for assembling the sweeper body’s metal components.
End result? Slifko and one co-worker spent a total of some 200 man-hours of labor to build a new sweeper body at a final cost of $3,000 – a savings of more than $60,000 for the unit.
“We encourage the ability to come up with new ideas and challenge what we typically do,” noted Second Lieutenant Kathryn Gossner, the 22nd LRS’s vehicle management flight commander. “We are extremely proud that our Airmen [and] our civilians are taking that extra step to see think about how we can make this better, how can we do things better. When they are able to make decisions, to take ownership of their job and come to work inspired, things happen.”