By Song Johnson, 446th Airlift Wing Public AffairsOctober 9, 2019
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Airmen from the 446th Maintenance Squadron's electro-environmental back shop and metal technology shop teamed up to create a new tool that may revolutionize how maintainers around the world complete a routine task, the removal of the battery cell for the C-17 Globemaster III.
"After a certain amount of time of usage on the aircraft, those cells can swell and make them hard to get out of the case," said Master Sgt. Robert Tingle a maintainer with the 446th MXS.
Under old procedures, battery cell extraction required two Airmen. The removal procedures would sometimes damage the battery cell. Replacing a cell is costly. Each cell costs about $1,000.
The removal procedures could also cause Airmen to get hurt. Tingle said he heard a story of an Airman getting hit in the face by another removal tool, as they were pulling on a cell.
"We now have a tool designed that uses leverage to pull the cell straight up and out of the case without injuring anybody and breaking any battery cells," Tingle said.
The Battery Cell Extraction Tool allows one Airman to safely accomplish the task. Airmen at McChord Field began regularly using the Battery Cell Extraction Tool at Joint Base Lewis-McChord earlier this year.
446th AW Airmen entered the Battery Cell Extraction Tool for Spark Tank 2020. Spark Tank is a competition designed by former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, to "unleash the innovative capacity of our Airmen."
This year marks the third annual Spark Tank competition. Winners will be announced at the Air Force Association's 2020 Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 26. The top winners will receive $2,500 from Airmen Powered by Innovation, funded travel to Florida and other resources to implement their projects, a crystal trophy, as well as the chance to pitch the idea to Air Force senior leaders and world-renowned entrepreneur Mark Cuban.
"I feel proud and accomplished that our team came together to both innovate a solution to a problem and then also take part in the Spark Tank competition," said Tingle, a native of Spokane, Wash. "But at the end of the day it's just the finalizing of all our combined efforts to capture and highlight the reserve and active duty partnership here at McChord Field making a difference in our Air Force."
Even if the judges do not select the Battery Cell Extraction Tool as a Spark Tank winner, the tool may still change operations worldwide.