Many units on base are beginning to change the way they do business as Luke Air Force Base transforms to incorporate the F-35 training mission.
One of the units changing is the 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron materiel management flight.
“Not only does the F-35 arrival affect maintenance and operations, but it has a big play in what we do here in the warehouse,” said Capt. Michael Millard, 56th LRS MM flight commander. “Some say we are the life blood of the Air Force. We make sure the maintainers have the parts they need to ensure the planes get in the sky.”
The warehouse stores about 25,000 line items which are parts for the aircraft, he continued. One line item might be a bolt, but there are 50 units available in that one line item. The warehouse holds about $1.5 million worth of items maintainers might need to be able to fix an aircraft.
“Anytime a plane is broken, maintenance will let us know and our supply Airmen will go into the warehouse and find that item,” Millard said. “But it’s not just finding a part, picking it up and leaving. They have to make sure there is the right inventory balance, and then log the item in the system as leaving the warehouse. We then get the part to the maintainers who use it to fix the jet.”
Supply Airmen are currently using a legacy system that has been used for decades to track and manage the inventory, but because of the new requirements the F-35 will bring, the current warehouse systems needed to but updated.
“We will get a new tracking system from Lockheed Martin called the autonomic logistics information system or ALIS for short,” Millard explained. “We currently don’t know much about it other than it will alter the way we run business in the warehouse. It will change the way we pull items and also the way we order new parts.”
Currently the warehouse only supplies F-16 parts, but F-35 parts will soon arrive and they will need to find space for both aircraft parts.
“One of our big concerns is warehouse saturation,” Millard said. “We don’t want to run out of space. F-16s are still here and flying. Once the Holloman moves take effect some of our parts will move with them, leaving space for F-35 inventory. It’s a sequencing thing. We hope as F-35 parts come in the F-16 parts will transition out.”
In order to fit everything into the existing space the warehouse has to do some reconfiguring of their current space, to include building a new storage area.
During this reconfiguring phase not only will the warehouse be preparing for F-35s, but all the warehouse functions will be moving into building 945.
“Along with moving around things for the F-35 we are moving outer units like mobility into the main building,” Millard said. “We want to make it a one stop shop. If anyone on base needs an LRS item like body armor to deploy or an F-35 part they will come to one building.”
The warehouse has already begun moving some things around to create additional space.
“We got a new carousel system that holds thousands of small items,” said Senior Airman Joseph Whittle, 56th LRS supply craftsman. “I had to take more than 350,000 items, do an inventory and move them to the new carousel. It was a daunting task but the new system will help us better serve our customers.”
Through the whole process, LRS will remain focused to provide quality service to the customer.
“We don’t plan on being fully done until 2017,” Millard said. “We will continue to be flexible and adjust as things change to support our customers. We are ready.”