Air logistics center chooses EDS shop floor computer system

Leaders of the Oklahoma Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., plan to automate large parts of their electronics system maintenance with an initiative called the Depot Shop Floor Data Portal.

by Wilson Dizard III

TINKER AFB, Okla. — Leaders of the Oklahoma Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., plan to automate large parts of their electronics system maintenance with an initiative called the Depot Shop Floor Data Portal. The portal relies on Teamcenter software from Electronic Data Systems (EDS) of Plano, Texas.

The Air Logistics Center performs maintenance on various types of aircraft, including B52s and B1 bombers, KC135 refueling tankers, and F15 and F16 fighters. Tinker Air Force Base is in Oklahoma City, Okla.

The Depot Shop Floor Data Portal system replaces several old databases in which maintenance workers would check the validity, supply, and order status of specific part numbers. Some of that information was available only on paper, systems specialists say. Using the web-based system, maintenance workers will be able to verify part numbers, check parts availability, and order parts using one integrated system.

"Being fully Web based was extremely important in an enterprise system," says Ed Kincaid, maintenance team leader at the air logistics center, adding that the EDS product integrates product design data with other information.

Major contractors such as Boeing and Lockheed-Martin Corp. use the EDS system, Kincaid says. As such, "you get good support as far as updates and even commercialization of best practices," he says. Workers on the shop floor, who now receive the system in a pilot version, "love it," he says. "They say to hurry up and get it out [on a full scale basis]."

On one product that center technicians overhaul "it looks like we could save three hours out of thirty-and that's just out of helping them order parts," Kincaid says. System efficiencies could increase to a 15-percent reduction of former costs as other modules of the system are deployed, he predicts. "And that's being conservative, because the government doesn't have good historical data to serve as a baseline" for cost analysis."

The system has the advantage of decreasing the amount of time needed to fabricate parts that have gone out of production, which can stretch to as long as two years, adds Mohsen Rezayat, chief solutions architect at EDS. The system also reduces errors from incorrect manual entry of part numbers, he says.

The system makes extensive use of extensible markup language, the standard format for document and data interchange on the Web. System users may be at their desktop, in an aircraft, at a workbench, or accessing the system remotely via a pocket PC or Palm computer.

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