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Maxwell Airman receives $10K through IDEA Program
Computer programmer Senior Airman Zachariah Grummons works on a database at the Air Force Integrated Maintenance Data System Center located on Gunter Annex in Montgomery, Ala., Sept. 20. Recently, Grummons submitted the paperwork for IDEA 2012-2069, “IMDS Automation and Expediency of Element Recycles,” saving the Air Force $111,625 annually and earning him a $10,000 check from the Air Force Innovative Development through Employee Awareness Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael Voss)
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Maxwell Airman receives $10K through IDEA Program

Posted 9/26/2012   Updated 9/26/2012 Email story   Print story


by Master Sgt. Michael Voss
Air University Public Affairs

9/26/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Recently, Air Force Integrated Maintenance Data System computer programmer Senior Airman Zachariah Grummons from the Program Executive Office-Business Enterprise System received a $10,000 check from the Air Force Innovative Development through Employee Awareness Program.

In February, Grummons submitted the paperwork for IDEA 2012-2069, "IMDS Automation and Expediency of Element Recycles," saving the Air Force $111,625 annually.

While spending his day rewriting C-sharp coding, Grummons overheard a coworker complaining about the recycle process for programs. The process required individual programmers to recycle the script for each part of a program with a coding error. The recycling process can take up to 10 minutes per code error of programmer's time.

Grummons relates the process to a car assembly line.

"The recycle process was similar to a car being assembled on a line, and upon completion, the engineers realize they forgot to install the spark plugs," said Grummons. "It required the car be returned through each phase of the production line until it reached the engine assembly station. There, the technician would install the spark plugs and begin the process again."

Grummons agreed with his coworker that the process was inefficient and added a function that would automate the process. Today, when the system finds code errors, it refreshes the code without programmer involvement. The new process saves 8.86 minutes of processing time per element recycled, which equivocates to an increase of 88.6% program efficiency.

According to Grummons' Idea submission, utilizing the 2011 calendar year as a baseline, 9644 elements were recycled multiplied by 10 minutes per element, which is 96,440 minutes, and divide by 60 minutes to get 1607.33 hours. Given that the average estimated hours worked per year by contractors involved is no less than 1800 hours per year, we can then calculate that 1607.33 hours per year divided by 1800 hours equals 0.893 years of work saved. Concordantly, the average estimated annual salary of the contractors involved in this task is around $125,000 per year; ergo, we can postulate that 0.893 years multiplied by $125,000 figures out to $111,625 saved per year.

"Previously, these recycles would have required continuous monitoring and input by a support contractor," said Susan Mills, Maxwell IDEA program coordinator. "Since the process automation, the need for continuous monitoring has been eliminated saving the Air Force time and money."

Although it may not seem like a significant change, IMDS is used servicewide to schedule maintenance for Air Force assets like the F-35 Lightning, F-22 Raptor and various munitions.

"Airman Grummons has been an example for others," said Tech. Sgt. Krista Crout, Grummons' supervisor. "Since receiving the award, there have been Airmen asking about the IDEA program because they hadn't heard of it or thought it was only for Airmen on the flight line. Sometimes, Airmen don't understand the value of their contributions to the service, especially programmers, because many of them never use the programs they create."

"I don't think I am special," said Grummons. "There are a lot of ideas that are getting implemented every day, but people don't realize the Air Force might pay you for the savings."

According to Air Force Manpower Agency, the Air Force IDEA Program is an incentive program that promotes process improvement and resource savings through ideas submitted by military and civilian employees. It is accomplished by encouraging a better way of doing business by fostering employee awareness and participation in the Air Force IDEA Program.

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