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The Future is Now: Digital Toolkit

Airman 1st Class Rodney Keen, 20th Air Maintenance Unit CV-22 Osprey aircraft crew chief, opens a tool drawer at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Nov. 5, 2019. So far the kit has saved, on average, one hour per shift when it comes to checking out toolboxes and tools. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Gage Daniel)

A toolkit stands alone at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Nov. 5, 2019. With the new toolkit, accountability for tools has been made easier and missing tools have gone down approximately 95%. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Gage Daniel)

Airman 1st Class Rodney Keen, 20th Air Maintenance Unit CV-22 Osprey aircraft crew chief, scrolls through the checked out tools at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Nov. 5, 2019. The kit has screen functions such as tool search, about, service and a list off all tools currently checked out and to whom they were issued to. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Gage Daniel)

A toolkit drawer sits open as at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Nov. 5, 2019. The kit allows Airmen to grab an item and go, while closing the drawer scans the location of the taken tool and signs it out to the person who took it automatically. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Gage Daniel)

Airman 1st Class Rodney Keen, 20th Air Maintenance Unit CV-22 Osprey aircraft crew chief, scans his badge to open a digital tool kit at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Nov. 5, 2019. The digital toolkit is an alternative to the standard toolbox check out system that most squadrons currently use. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Gage Daniel)

Airman 1st Class Rodney Keen, 20th Air Maintenance Unit CV-22 Osprey aircraft crew chief, grabs a tool pouch at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Nov. 5, 2019. The kit also offers tool pouches, allowing Airmen to store numerous tools at one time cutting down on the number of needed trips. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Gage Daniel)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The CV-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft, has many moving parts to function with the duality of a helicopter and turboprop aircraft. These parts require specific tools to maintain them and get them back into the air. Accountability and accessibility of use of these tools are critical to continue the mission of the CV-22 Osprey.

Thankfully, due to Continuous Process Improvement - an initiative to improve productivity and overall efficiency around the Air Force - a new, smart, “digital toolkit,” has made its way to one of our CV-22 Osprey hangars. This toolkit aims to provide a faster, more efficient alternative to the previous standard of checking out of an entire tool box.

“The toolkit streamlines the tool check-in-and-out process,” said Tech Sgt. Ryan Spencer, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Unit phase dock chief. “It cuts down time during shift turnover and it adds to the human element of tool accountability. Also, it doubles as a process that helps maintain our Air Force safety standards.”

Though it may seem complicated, the toolkit is simple and easy to use. This makes problems and issues with the system minimal to none.

“Each employee has a card with a Radio Frequency-Identification badge that is unique to each person,” Spencer said. “The Airmen scan their badges, grab the tools they need and close the drawer. Upon closing the drawer, the toolkit will scan the location of the item taken and issue them to the Airmen that scanned the kit via digital checkout.”

Another plus to the toolkit is the time it saves. Instead of having to check out tool boxes several times per day, Airmen are able to go to the new digital toolkit, scan their badge, and quickly grab what they need.


“Between checking out, checking in and searching for tools, the digital toolkit saves approximately one hour per shift,” Spencer said.

While simultaneously saving time and increasing the amount of time there is to get the job done, the digital toolkit increases accountability as well.

“Tool accountability is a big part of what we do as maintainers,” Spencer said. “Every tool that is taken is displayed on a screen for easy accountability. This allows us to be less stressed about tools, improving our quality of life by cutting down missing tools by approximately 95%.”

So far, the digital toolkit has been well received for its ease of access, simplicity and capability of keeping everything tracked immediately upon taking the tool and closing the drawer.

“It’s great to be able to access all the tools I need to complete my work with the digital toolkit,” said Airman 1st Class Rodney Keen, 20th AMU CV-22 crew chief. “If I need anything it's always right there.”

Moving forward the 20th AMU continues to use the kit as planned, getting the most out of it as possible and taking advantage of the time and stress it saves the Airmen. This added time and less stressful environment allows for more focused and honed work on these intricate aircraft.