Robins AFB Airmen create robot, big win for entire Air Force

Work smarter, not harder – It is a mantra which captures the essence of the Air Force-wide “Rise of the Digital Wingman Award” competition.

Two Robins Air Force Base members won first place in the category of “Best Robot – Operational Impact” for their “Wallwalker” entry. Ramey Channell and Alan Porter, both Information Technology specialists with the 78th Air Base Wing Communications Directorate, were recently recognized by Col. Brian Moore, 78th ABW commander, for their win.

“I hope the entire base will join me in congratulating this team,” Moore said. “They are helping bring digital transformation to Robins AFB and the Air Force Sustainment Center. All Airmen will benefit from their hard work.”

Rise of the Digital Wingman is a robotic process automation competition that challenges Airmen to find innovative ways to use bots to simplify repetitive and complex tasks.

“Wallwalker” focuses on the processes in Art of the Possible.

“Any base that has a weapons system, tracks the progress of maintenance work being completed on aircraft like C-130 (Hercules), F-15 (Eagle)or helicopters by creating gate charts,” Channell said.

Art of the Possible is a methodology used at all AFSC bases for improvement and quality control.

Gate charts provide overall insight of production activities and performance for each phase of maintenance and to identify constraints.

Each individual gate chart is basically a snapshot of the current phase of maintenance and the requirements for that phase.

Channell added that “the charts show concise data to identify under-performing processes and apply continuous process improvement techniques in order to improve machine performance.”

Those charts are created manually and take nearly 50 hours to produce and are only good for one week.

However, using the new RPA chart production Channell and Porter created, updates can be given in under four minutes.

Organizations showcase a storyboard along a wall to demonstrate how a particular job is completed from start to finish. This is called “Walking the Wall.”

Amanda McGullion, 562nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron management analyst, explained why this innovation is a game changer for work being completed on the C-17 Globemaster III at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex.

“This automation will allow us to provide daily, versus weekly, production updates, which will help us identify and eliminate constraints,” McGullion said. “Once we can incorporate this into our work, we will have more time to dive deeper into constraint areas in order to operate faster.”

“Very proud and glad that we could do something that will enable people to do their work quicker, and they can move on to other things,” Porter said. “This was tedious work we automated here at Robins (AFB), and it could help Air Force-wide.”

Porter described this innovation as a morale booster and said it has caught the attention of many other bases.

The team has presented their winning program virtually.

“We have had a few folks from Wright-Patterson (AFB, Ohio) and Tinker (AFB, Oklahoma) asking us to automate their process for them. This bot will make work-life easier,” Porter said.

McGuillion is looking forward to next year when the program is scheduled to be implemented.

“Initially, I was like cool, they want to try and help simplify our process. But now, I am so ecstatic that they have figured out a way to get the job we need done faster,” McGuillion said.

According to the Procedures and Analysis office, the RPA project is estimated to save up to $2.9 million in resources and more than 120,000 hours across the AFSC while standardizing analytical data for AoP methodology.

men at table

78th Air Base Wing Communications Directorate team members, Ramey Channel, (right) and Alan Porter, both Information Technology specialists, along with Jeff Leonard, (center) branch chief, review their award-winning entry in the Rise of the Digital Wingman competition, Sept. 24, 2020, at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. Their project, Wallwalker, a bot that simplifies Art of the Possible processes, will save the Air Force both in time and money. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kisha Foster Johnson)

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