EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Eielson’s Iceman Spark team is slated to present their innovative solution to logistics and inventory management at Headquarters Air Force’s Tesseract Aether Sprint competition in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 14-19.
After being selected as one of three finalists from a pool of 27 teams Air Force-wide, the Iceman Spark team will present their idea to a live audience at the competition, which leverages the day-to-day experience and technical expertise of Airmen to accelerate innovation.
The Air Force is evolving every single day at an incredible rate. When technology updates and changes at such a rapid pace, it creates a steep learning curve for Airmen. The Iceman Spark team has witnessed this problem firsthand and decided to create a computer application that would eliminate bureaucracy and potentially save millions of dollars and man hours Air Force-wide.
The Iceman Spark team is composed of Master Sgt. Philip Barry, 354th Fighter Wing director of innovation; Master Sgt. Kathleen Myers, 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) asset management section chief; Staff Sgt. Shane Weber, 354th Fighter Wing protocol specialist; and Staff Sgt. Kyle Soliday, 354th LRS materiel management user and developer. Iceman Spark is a collaborative that takes an idea or problem and creates an effective product or solution by reviewing its feasibility, viability and desirability.
The team proved a lengthy, time consuming, multi-step process can be transformed into a two minute task with the correct programming. Using the app, documents can now be electronically tracked throughout a multi-signature process, and emails can be automatically sent when certain actions have been completed.
Additionally, the app is capable of being an endless learning and information hub specifically for the Air Force. All app users have the ability to create custom processes to address redundancies specific to their job. Any process or “automation flow” created by one user can be seen and used by others stationed at different bases, allowing Airmen to share how-tos, documents, action plans and other resources that have helped them achieve maximum productivity within their Air Force Specialty Codes.
“We wanted to create an environment where we are doing less of the simple tasks and more focused on our jobs. The more automation, the less you have to do,” said Soliday. “I am sure everyone can relate to the frustration of missing out on a decoration or award because it wasn’t signed in time, or trying to get the next signature for an important document and it’s stuck with that one individual who happens to not have the greatest memory.”
The team’s innovative idea has already been tested and used within some squadrons at Eielson and has proven to be effective.
“One automation flow creates a queue for Supply to manage their workload and bag-building, as well as track data on how many bags were built. This eliminates waiting in line for a bag, a possible chalk delay and also saves about 24 hours a month in man hours,” said Weber.
The Icemen worked together to create an environment within the app to enhance discovery of new projects and ideas called Iceman Spark’s Robotic Process Automation. These applications and automations are capable of being formatted by the user specifically in a way that will benefit any electronic process within an organization, allowing every Airman the ability to create, discover, and innovate using existing technology the Air Force currently owns but under utilizes.
Not only that, it will save the Air Force money; one of the current applications eliminates the use of a contract that was quoted at $750,000 annually. That highlights the power Airmen have to collaborate and change the Air Force with a simple understanding of technology it already pays for.
This creation is directly in line with the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown’s directive to the force to “Accelerate Change or Lose.” The team is hoping they will win the competition so they can share their innovative idea to streamline bureaucracy throughout daily operations and ensure the U.S. Air Force remains the most dominant and respected air force in the world.
“The end goal is to save money and allow our Airmen to develop local solutions using technology we have at our fingertips. We would do this by sharing knowledge and capabilities across our force,” said Barry. “Soliday and Weber have proven the ability to collaborate and discover; now it’s time for the rest of the Air Force to run with it.”