EOD NCOs innovate, adopts proven product for new use

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dylan Nuckolls
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

People often think innovation only means coming up with something brand new to solve an issue. However, innovation can be as simple as using a known product to better an existing process.

This is exactly what two 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal noncommissioned officers adapting a wheelchair lift and repurposing it to improve the way EOD transports their Counter Improvised Explosive Device robot off their base support emergency response vehicle.

“These are my favorite types of projects because they are typically the fastest to implement, and generally provide the best bang for the buck because it is already tried and proven technology from another field,” said Capt. Benjamin Kram, 509th Bomb Wing innovation director. 

The new wheelchair lift saves time and man power when taking the robot off the response vehicle.

“Currently, we need two people to pull a 200-pound ramp out of the truck to get the robot down,” said Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Dunn, 509th CES EOD training NCOIC. “This causes several safety issues.”

Some of the issues with the current ramp include the weight, potential injuries and increased risk of damage to the robot when the ramp becomes slick, according to Dunn.

The new lift only requires one person to get the robot down, allowing the team leader to focus on responding to the EOD call, according to Tech Sgt. Thomas Gilbert, 509th CES EOD logistics section chief.

The wheelchair lift is powered by the vehicle and can be manually lowered and raised if the power failures.

According to Gilbert, EOD used squadron innovation funds to finance the project.

“It only cost us $7K to buy the lift and have it installed,” said Gilbert. “It was only a 48-hour turnaround from drop off to pick up.”

Dunn and Gilbert pitched their innovation idea during the 509th Bomb Wing Spark Tank competition and competed at Air Force Global Strike Command level.

“Our hope for this submission is to standardize equipment across the career field and enhance the response effectiveness for EOD units,” said Dunn.

The wheel chair lift might not be a brand new innovation like most people would think innovation is but it benefits EOD and its mission.

To learn more about the EOD lift, click here.