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380AEW Article

Backyard Innovation

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Chad Warren
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Today’s Air Force hinges a large portion of its success on innovation from the ground level. Airmen are encouraged to find creative ways to improve existing processes that may not be on the radar of higher-level leadership. One Airman from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing did that in a big way, but never expected his innovation would move any further than his flight.

Tech. Sgt. Anthony Girod, 380th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron petroleum, oil & lubrication flight, recognized a problem with the way the unit measured the fuel volume in the large fuel bladders used to store jet fuel for the combat aircraft here. Previously, Airmen stretched a string across the top of the fuel bag and used the height of the bag to calculate fuel changes.

“What we were finding is that we were seeing huge variances because of the different tension that people were putting on the string,” Girod said. “I was talking to my superior, and I said, ‘There’s gotta be a better way.’ I started researching online to see if there might be a tool out there and I didn’t find one, so I made one.”

Girod is one of the hundreds of 380th AEW Airmen who is part of the Air National Guard, and spends his days outside of the uniform teaching middle school science at Woodlan Jr./Sr. High School in Woodburn, Indiana. He used this opportunity to leverage his experience in the civilian sector to solve a problem in the field.

Girod constructed a simple device from a post level, a handgun laser sight and a pre-marked measuring post to increase the accuracy of the measurements.

“Now, we use this laser and it takes that tension and the operator error out of the equation,” he said. “The variances have dropped hugely. We’ve went from 1.25 inches of variance per bag, and we have 27 bags here, and now we are down to about 0.3 inches of variance per bag. Each inch is 3,000 gallons of fuel in these bags, so it’s huge.”

Inventory is done at the end of every day, and with multiple bags the discrepancy can add up to very serious amounts. According to Girod, being an inch off in each bag can be 27 inches total. 27 inches is 81,000 gallons of potential margin of error each day, adding up to major accounting discrepancies and making it difficult to accurately gauge how much fuel is needed to perform the mission.

As far as recognition, Girod had no idea his device would change the way POL operates on such a large scale, and was just trying to do his part to help out.

“I was just hoping it would make it easier on our guys and we would get more accurate numbers,” he said.