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News > Hanscom makes history as revolutionary logistics system goes live
Making history
Rick Lord, a fire apparatus maintainer in the 66th Logistics Squadron, opens the first work order using the Expeditionary Combat Support System at Hanscom Aug. 2, as Fritz Cooper of CSC looks on. Hanscom is the pilot base for implementing ECSS, which will ultimately be used by over 40,000 people at approximately 180 installations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Wyatt)
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Hanscom makes history as revolutionary logistics system goes live

Posted 8/4/2010   Updated 8/4/2010 Email story   Print story


by Kevin Gilmartin
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

8/4/2010 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- With just a few strokes of a keyboard, a vehicle maintenance worker in the 66th Logistics Squadron at Hanscom made history Aug. 2, ushering in a new era in Air Force logistics as the Expeditionary Combat Support System went live.

The ECSS program, managed by the Electronic Systems Center's Enterprise Logistics Systems Program Executive Office at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is considered the cornerstone of Air Force Logistics transformation. ECSS is an integrated data environment that combines financials, manufacturing, distribution and other business processes into a single commercial off-the-shelf, Oracle based technology solution hosted on the Air Force Global Combat Support System, and replaces more than 240 Cold War-era stand alone, or "stove-piped," systems being used today.

The current stove-piped legacy systems often result in duplicate effort, non-standardized reporting, and data integrity issues. When fully implemented, ECSS will provide standardized business processes, an enterprise view of the supply chain, and efficiencies across the Air Force.

Hanscom, chosen as the pilot base for implementing ECSS because it is a small base with a relatively low number of impacted users, has been preparing for this milestone for quite some time. Planned for release in increments, this first phase, known as Release One-Pilot A, focuses on vehicle maintenance, and involves about 40 to 50 users at Hanscom. Pilot B will expand to equipment custodians on base, adding several hundred more users, and Pilot C, which will involve supply functions, will add several more, bringing the potential number of Hanscom users of ECSS up to between 75 to 100 people.

With little fanfare, Pilot A kicked off at 7 a.m. Aug. 2 when mechanic Bruce Trainer opened up his "Scheduling Workbench" from which he can access ECSS, and scheduled the first job of the day, replacing a faulty light bulb on a base fire truck. That was the first of a number of jobs scheduled for the vehicle maintenance mechanics by John Sharpe, the vehicle maintenance flight chief. Shortly thereafter, Rick Lord started the maintenance operations, recorded the use of the replacement part, recorded his time and completed the work order. ECSS was now operational.

"When a mechanic opens up the ECSS work bench, he or she sees what the assignment is along with a maintenance bill of material that lists the tools, parts and people necessary to complete the job," Mr. Sharpe said. "The mechanic completes the task, and records the amount of time the job took, makes any necessary notes for future reference and then passes it on through the system to the supervisor."

ECSS standardizes processes, so the same job will be done the same way at Air Force bases around the world, according to Scott Argo of CSC, the prime contractor for the system. It also transfers the process from a paper-based system to an electronic one.

"While Pilot A is primarily being conducted by the 13 vehicle maintenance workers at Hanscom, there are 300-plus people at the program management office at Wright-Patterson, and CSC has more than 500 people in Beavercreek, Ohio, working on implementing the system across the Air Force," Mr. Argo said. "Also, engineers at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, are working the related vehicle engineering bill of materials and routings so that maintenance activities have a standard set of activities, tools and parts.

The engineers at Robins essentially build the processes that will be used Air Force-wide, and load them into ECSS, he explained.

"The idea is to write it once - the parts needed, the tools required, the skill level of the maintainer necessary and the sequence of tasks for each particular operation," Mr. Argo said. "Processes could be modified by the folks at Robins based on feedback from maintainers, and those changes would be immediately apparent to anyone doing that task across the service.

"The end result is to have one, single data base, no matter what Air Force location you are at, that has consistent processes and data," Mr. Argo said. "It moves the Air Force from base-centric, stand alone systems to an enterprise approach."

"This saves us a lot of time," said Jim Taggart, 66th Logistics Squadron director. "We don't have to hunt to see what's going on in the shop; in fact we don't even have to leave our offices."

The simple job of repairing a light on the fire truck would have involved one of the legacy systems ECSS will replace: the On Line Vehicle Information System (OLVIMS).

"This is way better than OLVIMS," said Greg Laing, Hanscom's ECSS Change Agent coordinator. "With ECSS, the data is there forever, so mechanics can look back and see what was done to a vehicle and read any notes from previous maintenance work. OLVIMS only kept data available for 12 months. ECSS also has better history and search capabilities."

"Pilot A also will extend to vehicle control officers at Hanscom, so they can now put in work requests for their vehicle, schedule routine maintenance and see the status of the work through ECSS," Mr. Laing said. "We'll also be able to do predictive maintenance, so when a vehicle is in the shop for routine work, we'll know what other tasks need to be accomplished and have the parts ready to go. It is a lot more efficient."

Hanscom will continue to be the pilot base for ECSS until sometime next year, when the program will enter initial operational test and evaluation at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., and Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.

"Today is a big day for ECSS, but it marks just another step in a long journey to delivering the full promise of ECSS," said Brig. Gen. Kenneth J. Moran, program executive officer for ECSS, in a message on Aug. 2. "We can, and should be, immensely proud of what's been achieved; but we must remain diligent and focused on the work ahead.

"Future pilots will layer in additional capabilities: enhanced tool and inventory management, financial and other supporting capabilities. Completion of the pilots will ultimately result in Release 1 of ECSS capabilities to over 40,000 users at approximately 180 installations."

Mr. Taggart said he's proud of the hard work everyone in his organization has put in since they found out they would be the pilot for ECSS.

"We're all proud to be on the leading edge of a system that is going to revolutionize the way we do our work," he said.

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