JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
More than five years ago, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph's Trainer Development Division bought two machines called vertical milling centers that more than recouped their costs in a matter of months.
The first one, purchased for $195,880, started operation in December 2005 and had saved the Air Force $381,903 by November 2006; the second machine, which cost $78,333, began operation in January 2007 and had resulted in savings of $215,915 less than six months later.
Both machines were purchased through the Air Force's Productivity Enhancing Capital Investment, or PECI, Program, which was started in 1977 to provide funding for productivity improvement projects at bases all over the world. The program invests an average of $11 million yearly, netting an average life-cycle savings of about $112 million, and has generated total savings of more than $10 billion.
"The best way to describe it is that it's a loan program," Tony Riffle, 902nd Force Support Squadron Manpower and Organization management analyst, said. "The Air Force gives you a loan to buy equipment and you pay them back through the savings you achieve."
Riffle said PECI projects are divided into two categories: FASCAP, or Fast Payback Capital Investment, for investments of less than $250,000, which require a two-year amortization period; and PIF, or Productivity Investment Fund, for investments exceeding $250,000 and requiring a four-year amortization period.
"FASCAP projects are approved at the major command level, while PIF must be approved at the air staff level," he said. "You have to put together a package and prove you can save the money you borrowed in the two- or four-year time period."
Riffle said Randolph organizations have submitted proposals for FASCAP projects, including the Trainer Development Division's vertical milling centers, which are still paying dividends for the Air Force.
"Both machines resulted in immediate benefit by allowing unmanned operations, thus allowing operators to work other tasks," Kevin Haley, TDD director, said. "The machines continue to save many dollars making critical parts for a wide range of training devices."
Riffle said PECI funding also allowed the JBSA Recreation Park at Canyon Lake to invest in an industrial chipper to produce mulch for the facility's walking trails and a front-end loader with a drilling attachment used to dig holes for fence posts.
"There are a lot of walking trails at Canyon Lake," he said. "They were spending a lot of money buying mulch for the trails. With the chipper, they are able to make mulch from downed trees and branches."
Throughout the Air Force, PECI projects have included a variety of productivity improvements from technology upgrades that increase administrative speed to major equipment purchases that increase base capabilities.
Riffle said another benefit of the program is that if the equipment purchase results in the loss of a manpower position, once that position has been amortized, the slot can be reinstated - but only in a different office within the same unit.
"You don't have to lose the slot," he said. "It just can't go back into the same office."
Riffle said the PECI program is not utilized as often as the Innovative Development Through Employee Awareness Program, also known as the IDEA program, which provides Airmen and civilian employees with cash awards for proposals that save the Air Force money or lead to improvements.
In fact, Randolph leads Air Education and Training Command in the number of IDEA proposals that are processed, he said.
However, the PECI program also deserves consideration, Riffle said.
"The program has been very generous, but it doesn't get the accolades it should," he said. "There are a lot of good things it can do for an organization. It helps units buy equipment. It's really a great, great program."
For details, call Riffle at 652-4332 or visit https://peciweb.seguetech.com.