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Wyvern Spark hosts RPA Roadshow, Airmen automate, create

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Brooke Moeder
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The Wyvern Spark Innovation Cell hosted the Robotics Process Automation (RPA) Roadshow Course Aug. 22-26 at Aviano Air Base, Italy, which was also the first time the course was conducted in U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.

Twenty-two military and civilian members across the 31st Fighter Wing brought their innovative ideas to life and created different automations to improve processes within their workplaces.

“RPA is designed to do manual heavy repetitive tasks in a much more timely and efficient manner,” said Michael Green, Air Force Financial Systems Services Operations RPA Roadshow program manager. “A task that can take an hour, through automation, could take five minutes. Automation is going to know exactly what to do and when to do it.”

The RPA software is not designed to replace a few minutes spent on a process; the intent is to enhance the process as a whole. The goal is to enable members to take on tasks that haven't previously been done.

During the course, members had the opportunity to create automation scripts. The automations streamline work processes, shorten timelines and minimize human errors.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Luckeydoo, 31st Communications Squadron NCOIC of information communications systems, is part of a six-person team that manages 300 Task Management Tool (TMT) accounts at Aviano AB in conjunction with their normal job. The TMT account automation they created cut down a five-day process into one day.

“USAFE uses TMT to task our Wing and then the Wing tasks all the way down to the individual level,” said Luckeydoo. “It typically takes about five days between the first email and the day you get your TMT account. With this automation, the moment someone sends us a request with the form we created, the ticket automatically gets submitted, auto approved, [if it's in the right parameters], and then they get their account in about 24 hours.”

Each automation saves time and gives time back to Airmen, according to Luckeydoo. Once completed, the automations can be sent through files to different major commands across the Air Force to use within their units.

“TMT is a USAFE function, but we can at least give it to different major commands,” said Luckeydoo. “We’re talking about 30-40 hours a week between everyone in the shop that's being saved.”

The members weren’t required have knowledge in coding before attending the class because the software has a low code, no code version which is more user friendly to an individual with no prior experience in coding.  

“The software is very drag-and-drop and it's very intuitive for a lot of the options, but its capabilities are a little bit more limited,” said Green. “It's tied to doing simplistic tasks. We also have the studio version, which does require some developer type of experience, but the complexities of the processes you can automate are much more advanced.”

Each member is required to have a license before attending the class.

“The license is provided by the Air Force RPA program so if a user wants a license, there is a Microsoft form to fill out and currently there is zero cost to the units or the individuals to get those licenses,” said Green.

The first day of the RPA Roadshow introduced the students to the class while the second day the students were introduced to basic automation concepts. By the third and fourth days, the students were already mapping out their automation ideas and starting to create them. On the fifth and final day the students presented their creations to base leadership. 

“The one thing I love about these roadshows is the fact that they really only have two solid days, sometimes maybe two and a half to build something,” said Green. “We probably have a good 70% of students that have a successful automation at the end of that timeframe. It's not the most robust automation, but it's something to give them immediate feedback of success.”

Innovation helps adapt and overcome any challenge that is faced.

“We've been talking about the need to accelerate change or lose,” said Luckeydoo. “We are accelerating change by creating automations. It's important that we show people that these things exist.”

If you have an innovation idea or if you have a process you’d like to automate, please reach out to the Wyvern Spark Innovation Cell at 314-632-7672 or email julie.lacouture.2@us.af.mil or kevin.vogt.1@us.af.mil for more information.