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Chips. Candy bars. Nuts and bolts?

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- In November 2016, the 92nd Maintenance Squadron became one of the first squadrons Air Force wide to receive an inventory vending machine for the periodic-inspection support section.

The 92nd MXS periodic-inspection support section manages an inventory of nearly 1,000 tools available for checkout. With an even bigger and more diverse inventory of bench stock, the eight Airmen who maintain the 92nd MXS PE support section are able to successfully distribute tools to hundreds of Airmen.

The 92nd MXS PE support section manages numerous programs including hazardous waste, fall protection, safety and bench stock. The bench stock program is the inventory and accountability of every screw, nut, bolt, washer, seal and clamp used on a daily basis throughout the 92nd MXS. With thousands of individual fasteners in hundreds of variations, keeping an accurate inventory can be a time-consuming task.

“Prior to the RoboCrib machine, we had to count every type of fastener within the support section,” Senior Airman Nick Monroe, 92nd MXS PE support section journeyman. “Within each bin, each type of fastener is separated by stock number.”

A process that could take eight hours to complete has been reduced to less than 30 minutes. The RoboCrib can hold nearly every piece of bench stock, keeps track of the amount of each type of fastener, how many are used and notifies the 92nd MXS PE support section Airmen when to order more.

Entirely based on weight, the RoboCrib maintains a digital catalog of each fastener that is available. Each item includes measurements, the stock number and a detailed image. After an Airman selects the correct fastener and removes it from the machine, the RoboCrib detects how many of the item were removed and updates the inventory accordingly.

“The RoboCrib saves time and man-hours by keeping count of each fastener in the machine using weight,” Monroe said. “It automatically accounts for what is taken and what remains.”

The RoboCrib has not only reduced man-hours, it has also improved overall efficiency and reduced quality assurance fails.

“QA fails would previously happen due to cross contamination, or bench stock being placed in the wrong bin,” Monroe said. “This machine makes cross contamination impossible. When removing a piece of bench stock, the machine only makes available to you the specific piece you were looking for.”

The machine has given time back to the support section Airmen to focus on other programs, such as hazardous waste, that are of the utmost importance, said Staff Sgt. Kyle Cervi, 92nd MXS PE support section NCO in charge.

With more developments on the horizon, including the capability for the RoboCrib to automatically place bench stock orders, the 92nd MXS plans to use the machine to its full potential.

“Our mission is to provide tools to maintainers working on the floor so they can safely accomplish the mission and this machine helps ensure the jets are getting back on the flight line on time with the highest quality work,” Monroe said.

Although the machine is new, the RoboCrib has boosted the 92nd MXS PE support section’s efficiency and made the bench stock program more effective and safe. With continued time and training, the PE support section Airmen believe others will begin to see its undisputed benefits.


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