Robins Depot trails competition in delivery of aircraft

Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex is in last place when it comes to repairing aircraft on-time.

It's number three of the three Air Force maintenance depots in the US, based on numbers from the service's leadership.

Aircraft come to Robins from around the country for repairs. Like with maintenance performed at a car shop, Robins customers expect to get their vehicles, aircraft, running on-time.

That's happening far less at Robins than at the nations two other Air Logistics Complexes.

At Tinker in Oklahoma City, their workforce finished repairs on-time 100-percent of the time last year and for the first quarter of this fiscal year.

At Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, they returned their aircraft to service on-time at a 97-percent rate in FY '13, and about 91 percent so far in FY '14.

At Robins, their on-time delivery rate was about 77 percent in FY '13 and about 48 percent the first quarter of FY '14.

Former Commander at Robins and now CEO of the 21st Century Partnership Bob McMahon said, "If your performance isn't where it needs to be in comparison with competitors, people are going to go elsewhere."

McMahon said the current numbers would be a major drawback against Robins for a Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, commission.

He says they need to go up before a likely 2017 BRAC, but change won't be immediate, because the rates didn't plummet overnight.

When McMahon left Robins two year ago, delivery rates stood at 98 percent. He admits he had a much larger work force than is currently available.

He said, "When I was the commander out there, I had about 500 excess people. We knew we had that, but needed those people to dig out of the hole we had previously."

Current Commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex Brigadier General Cedric George now Has about 900 fewer people than during McMahon's tenure.

Brig. Gen. George says early retirements forced by last year's budget cuts took a greater toll on Robins than Hill and Tinker, allowing those ALC's to sustain their delivery rates.

He said, "They did not have the right-sizing of the depot to the extent we did. In fact, they were operating with fewer people than they needed to do their job. We had over 900 people more than we had work for."

With those people gone, Brig. Gen. George says furloughs and a ban on overtime last year also slowed their rates.

Now with the workforce the right size for the work available, Robins is starting a new system that he believes will break the cycle of success and failure.

He said, "We won't accept it anymore. We will be competitive. We will be competitive for the long haul, because we have everything we need here in this proud set of Georgians."

Friday on Eyewitness News at 6, Brig. Gen. George will explain the new system, and why he believes it can take Robins from number three to number one of the Air Logistics Complexes.

Plus, hear why he believes measuring success by on-time-delivery rates may not be as important as it used to be, in a changing Air Force.


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