When the Colorado Air National Guard base became active duty, a more new military storage solution was needed to improve efficiency and logistical readiness.
The Colorado Air National Guard has an extensive and impressive history dating back to 1923 when the 120th Aero Observation Squadron was called to serve alongside the Colorado Army National Guard. In 1946, the Colorado National Guard was officially recognized – one year before the United States Air Force was recognized! Housed at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, CO, the 140th Wing performs multiple training missions each year in preparation for state emergencies and active duty service in times of crisis. While not always active duty, the National Guardsmen – and their equipment – must be ready to be called into action at any time.
During a transition into wartime, The 140th Wing had an immediate need for improved Base Supply Operations and military storage when the base became active duty status. The department took on increased responsibilities for overseeing all of the weapons and mobility bags as the entire wing prepared for a possible deployment.
“The efficiency we have achieved with the Spacesaver systems is immeasurable. By utilizing compact storage systems, the base is now able to store everything for the entire wing in one central repository. We have more consistency in management and because our operation is so efficient, we’ve been able to remove obstacles for people to get their jobs done and have seen morale boosted.”
– Captain Brinkman, Logistics Readiness Squadron Operations Officer
Weapons storage was a particular concern at the Air Force Base. Previously, weapons were stored in locked gun caskets, which typically only hold between one and three weapons inside. The gun caskets were stacked three to four high, which created a major inconvenience for accessing and inventorying weapons. During inventory checks, every casket had to be moved, opened, and accounted for – a major undertaking that was labor-intensive and often took a dozen or more people to accomplish. This also meant taking soldiers away from their day-to-day administrative, training, and preparation activities, resulting in decreased productivity.
Another storage area in need of an overhaul was mobility bag storage. Most Airmen have multiple mobility bags containing specific items such as helmets, body armor, sleeping bags, cold-weather gear, chemical warfare protective suits, and in-flight protective gear. Some of the items in mobility bags have expiration dates, which requires personnel to pull bags and swap out gear at specific times.
When the Colorado Air National Guard became active duty, personnel knew the bags would need to be prepared for short-notice deployments. Misplacing even a few items or bags could put lives in danger. The mobility bags, weighing 30-70 pounds each, were originally stored in large bins stacked three high on standard industrial racking, which required a forklift to access for a deployment. The cumbersome process made it more difficult to ensure that every bag was organized and mission-ready.
The year that the Colorado National Guard was officially recognized – putting them one year ahead of the United states Air Force!
When it came time to retrofit storage at the base, Captain Brinkman, the Logistics Readiness Squadron Operations Officer, knew it was time for a different solution. He reached out to a local Spacesaver representative who assessed the space and proposed a solution that included high density mobile military storage, mobile cubbies, and a series of Universal Weapons Racks.
In the weapons storage area, Universal Weapons Racks were mounted onto high density mobile carriages to allow for maximum security and space savings. By configuring the inside of the Weapons Racks to the exact specifications of their weapons, the base can now store up to 820 M16s and 140 9mm weapons – an inventory that collectively is worth over $200,000. The weapons racks make it easy to conduct a visual inventory, requiring only a few hours and one person.
The new weapons racks are also highly secure and keep weapons from being broken or damaged. The logistics team employs a three-tiered security system for all of its firearms including:
“We lost nothing in terms of security and gained extensively in efficiency,” said Senior Master Sergeant John Zenyuch, base supply asset management superintendent. “Even with increased responsibilities, our technician is able to maintain and prepare inventory more efficiently and then have time to take on added responsibilities.”
“We lost nothing in terms of security and gained extensively in efficiency. Even with increased responsibilities, our technician is able to maintain and prepare inventory more efficiently and then have time to take on added responsibilities.”
– Senior Master Sergeant John Zenyuch, Base Supply Asset Management Superintendent
When it came to storing the bulky mobility bags, a high density shelving system was the answer. By mounting shelves with dividers for each individual bag onto rails, static aisles were eliminated, which created space for all the bags to be stored in one central location. With the push of a button, the shelves easily move over 4,000 mobility bags, as well as space and back-up items for additional bags. Each Airman is assigned a bag and each bag is assigned a storage cubby within the system. The system eliminated the need for the storage bins so that now, during a deployment, bags are located and retrieved in a matter of minutes.
“Having the Spacesaver system for our bag storage has us much better prepared,” said Zenyuch. “They have allowed us to cut down our preparation for deployment from several hours to a matter of minutes.”
The change in storage approach not only saved space, but also encouraged a change in functional operations that resulted in safer storage of supply items and quicker turnaround in mobility operations. Brinkman concluded by saying, “The efficiency we have achieved with the Spacesaver systems is immeasurable. By utilizing compact storage systems, the base is now able to store everything for the entire wing in one central repository. We have more consistency in management and because our operation is so efficient, we’ve been able to remove obstacles for people to get their jobs done and have seen morale boosted.”