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Moosehead prototype brings new efficiency to 374th LRS

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Taylor Slater
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A new device is on the scene at the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron, saving manpower and cutting fuel maintenance times from two hours to 15 minutes.

The moosehead prototype, an adapter for use primarily by refueling maintenance, is a product of the collaboration between multiple units, including the 374th LRS, 374th Maintenance Squadron, 374th Security Forces Squadron and YokoWERX.

“[We wanted] to create something that all mechanics can use across the entire Air Force,” said Senior Airman Joseph Jordan, 374th LRS vehicle management refueling and fire truck maintenance technician. “Something that we can build at any shop anywhere and anytime.”

Generally, performing fuel maintenance involves gathering a crew of logistics readiness Airmen and traveling across the flightline. The R-12 fuel systems truck would be used to connect to an aircraft, cycle fuel between the two systems and diagnose malfunctions in the pumping systems.

“If the fuel sits for a while it goes stagnant,” explained Tech. Sgt. John Abbot, 374th MXS aircraft metals technology section chief. “They would have to go somewhere way out at the end of the runway to a pit that has a physical pump, hook up their trucks and cycle it through. That whole process takes a lot of time.”

The moosehead prototype is an adapter that can be used to connect both the R-11 and R-12 fueling systems, eliminating the task to connect it with an aircraft or drive across the flightline. Additionally, all of the maintenance can be done in-house, single-handedly saving the 374th LRS valuable time and manpower.

Planning for the prototype began in 2022, with the idea to standardize the original moosehead device from the 1980s. YokoWERX took charge of oversight and created the design plans for the new prototype.

“We applied a bit of human-centered design,” said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Toellner, YokoWERX project management consultant. “That means taking your function, stripping it down and then building it back up with user interface in mind.”

The team got to work using YokoWERX’s design and the 374th MXS created the prototype while the 374th LRS assisted with testing and troubleshooting.

“The big thing I wanted to get squared away was the ergonomics of it,” Abbot said. “The previous device was very low to the ground, and then in terms of making the unit mobile, what’s the easiest way to move it around? I had the idea of using a lawnmower-type shape because lawnmowers are able to move over hills and terrain very easily.”

The biggest issue the team ran into when designing the new prototype was, ironically, time. The parts requested for the moosehead prototype took around eight months to arrive from the manufacturer due to COVID-19. Once they arrived the team completed the project in early 2024.

 The future of moosehead goes beyond Yokota Air Base, as the team hopes to have the device in every base. They’ve joined forces with a Headquarters Air Force A4 Logistics innovation arm called Tesseract to help make it happen and gain the approval of higher-level stakeholders. Moosehead prototype 2.0 is also in development and projected to be a portable device key for deployments to austere environments.

 Innovation is the key to success and with inventions such as the moosehead, this group has increased efficiency to keep the mission going while leaving a legacy behind that will last long after they’ve hung up the uniform.

“I never realized moosehead would reach out as far as it has,” Abbot said. “I just like making stuff, so it’s cool to see the impact it will eventually have.”

For Toellner though, he gets the most satisfaction from making one Airman’s day a little better.

“That’s a feeling I don’t know if I can describe,” Toellner said. “When they’re talking about how much better this makes their day-to-day life. That’s where I see a lot of the benefits of innovation and improvement.”