JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- How do you track hundreds of pieces of equipment dispersed around the world?
The 62nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment shop here began installing GPS trackers on their equipment in late April 2021. The shop is now able to track approximately 220 of its 420 assets globally.
Prior to this, AGE Airmen manually tracked each piece of equipment through logs annotating where an asset was dropped off, picked up and inspected.
“We would have to rely on previous run sheets and service inspection logs to determine the location of assets, and it’s not always where it was last recorded to be,” said Master Sgt. Cameron Cofer, 62nd MXS AGE flight chief. “The GPS is a dramatic improvement versus the paper tracking system we’ve been using.”
Supporting aircraft systems on the ground, the AGE shop has equipment on the McChord Field flightline, Gray Army Airfield, deployed locations across the globe, and pieces that sometimes travel with aircrews on missions and temporary duty assignments. The GPS trackers can trace a piece of equipment within two to three meters.
The amount of travel that AGE equipment undergoes was a significant cause for this development.
In the two and a half years that Cofer has been at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, there have been two tow-bars misplaced on missions where, due to changes in configuration and mission set, aircrews had to leave them behind.
First, AGE had to figure out where the asset was, then coordinate its return from the air base it was located. Having the GPS trackers will speed up this process should it happen again.
“One of the huge benefits is obviously the time saved in searching for equipment,” Cofer said. “We spent a little while crunching numbers and came up with about 3,000 hours annually that we are saving in just searching for equipment.”
Currently, this idea is in a testing phase for the AGE career field. There is no standardized process or system yet across the several units who have begun testing the use of GPS trackers on their assets.
The leadership at the 62nd MXS AGE shop are hoping to see it go career field-wide.
“Since I’ve been here, it’s worked in our favor,” said Master Sgt. Bryant Punzalan, 62nd MXS AGE production supervisor. “I think it’s going to be beneficial to our career field, and if the career field adopts it, it will help with sustainment.”
Putting this idea into practice has been years in the making, but the time-saving innovation it brings to the 62nd MXS AGE shop is a game changer.