FRCE tech library sets the standard with proactive posture
When an organization’s operations rely on more than 40,000 electronic technical data publications, what happens during a network outage?
The team of 11 librarians and data maintenance technicians at Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) Technical Document Library Branch take a proactive approach to developing solutions that keep information current in these publications, along with almost 5,000 paper manuals, regardless of the challenges at hand. Their efforts recently earned recognition during the depot’s 2022 Aircraft Maintenance Inspection (AMI), when the branch was held up as a model to emulate across the Navy.
The foresight, planning and attention to detail the team shows while ensuring that every facet of the operation continues to meet the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) standard for technical publications libraries garnered high praise, said Stuart Clayton, head of the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Engineering Department at FRCE.
“The team was acknowledged as the program that sets the standard for technical libraries across the Navy,” Clayton said. “Their technical excellence, timeliness, accountability and continuous improvement resulted in special recognition by the Aircraft Maintenance Management Team conducting the inspection, and was well-deserved.”
The NAVAIR Aircraft Maintenance Management Team (AMMT) inspected 497 total programs at FRCE’s Cherry Point operation, and the performance of the depot’s Central Technical Publication Library (CTPL) was included in the assessments of several programs. Senior Chief Petty Officer Austin Vanderbilt, who evaluated the CTPL during the inspection, said he was impressed by the skill and professionalism demonstrated by the CTPL team.
“It is truly amazing how well prepared the Central Technical Publication Library and every Dispersed Technical Publication Library were when interacting with the evaluator,” Vanderbilt said. “The CTPL has gone above and beyond to ensure every portion of this extremely large library is above standards. All aspects of this program are well tracked, organized and executed to perfection. FRC East is now the standard to which I will inspect for the rest of my tour on the Aircraft Maintenance Management Team.”
Melisa Jones, head of the Technical Document Library Branch within MRO Engineering at FRCE, said it was rewarding to see her team’s hard work and attention to detail recognized and celebrated.
“It was very gratifying,” she said. “In the past three and a half years, the team has really come a long way. When I came on board as the supervisor in December 2018, my vision for this library was to be the library that all the other libraries at the Fleet Readiness Centers wanted to imitate, and we’re slowly but surely getting there.”
Other organizations have visited FRCE’s library in order to get a more in-depth understanding of operations, she said, because they want to emulate the setup in their own facilities.
“That’s pretty exciting, when you have someone come and ask how we do something so they can do it the same way,” Jones added.
The CTPL team maintains its superior level of performance by proactively focusing on continuous process improvement, Jones said.
“We are constantly working at process improvement and trying to find a better way to do our jobs within the guidelines,” she explained. “We’re always striving to move forward; we don’t ever want somebody coming behind us and telling us that we’ve missed something. We’re always trying to keep one foot ahead and move ahead with the times.”
As naval aviation moves toward a more digital environment, that continuous process improvement includes developing measures that can mitigate impact in case of power or network outages, Jones said. In examining the possibilities, the team worked with a contractor to develop a system that keeps the more than 40,000 pieces of electronic technical data used at FRCE up to date on a portable electronic maintenance aid (PEMA) housed at the CTPL, with refreshes conducted twice a week.
“In January there was a big outage, and we decided to be proactive rather than reactive,” she said. “We started looking into what we could do to prevent a work stoppage if this type of situation were to occur again. How can we keep working and still support the fleet?”
An automated script runs twice a week and checks the depot’s electronic data repository – the electronic storage retrieval system, or ESRS – for updates to the electronic technical data used at FRCE. Any available updates are downloaded to the CTPL’s in-house PEMA, which is available for use in the case of an outage.
“We have everything here that our artisans use, current and backed up on these PEMAs, and they can come to the CTPL and check out a temporary PEMA to use until the system comes back up,” Jones said. “That way, we’re never seeing FRCE’s artisans in a work stoppage because they don’t have access to the information they need from us.”
The team has also helped reduce the number of paper publications at FRCE from 12,000 to just 4,700 in a span of three years, representing an almost 66% reduction. As this reduction takes place, they also provide FRCE’s workforce with training on how to access the electronic versions of the technical data.
“Patricia (Barr) provides the artisans with training right there in their shops, on their laptops, on how to log in to ESRS and access the information they need,” Jones said. “If they don’t have access, we get them access and have it approved immediately. We teach them how to use the system correctly, and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback on that. We teach them how to fish instead of fishing for them.”
This type of forward thinking, coupled with a robust training program for the library’s team members, has yielded positive results and garnered praise and recognition.
“The evaluator said we probably have the most robust training system he’s ever seen,” Jones said. “We provide training to our team every month on every aspect of our job, so we know that when we go out and do the work, we’re doing it correctly. We’re very organized with everything we do, and he was very impressed with all of that.
“Without us, our artisans wouldn’t have the latest and greatest technical data they need to go out and work on these aircraft,” she continued. “We’re actually helping with product safety and quality when we come up with these solutions, helping production move forward and maybe even speeding it up a bit. And none of this would be possible without every one of my team members. We have a fantastic team, and we’re making a difference here.”
FRCE is North Carolina's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot provides service to the fleet while functioning as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.