Focus on quality earns ISO/AS recertifications
June 13, 2013
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Tobyhanna received the 'thumbs up' from international auditors following an in depth inspection of business practices, earning recertification in meeting recognized standards for quality.
Auditors from NSF International visited the depot last month to conduct a surveillance audit of Tobyhanna's International Standards Organization (ISO) 9001, and Aerospace Standard (AS) 9100 and AS9110 certifications.
The audit took a look at various aspects of product and process quality throughout the mission to ensure the depot continues to provide the warfighter with the highest quality product possible. Key aspects that were evaluated include customer focus, monitoring and measuring of products, configuration management, preservation of product, identification and traceability, risk management and continuous improvement.
Brad Jones, director of the Productivity Improvement and Innovation Directorate, explained the audit served two main functions.
"At a macro level, we are audited to see if we have documented processes to address the requirements of ISO and AS certification," he said. "Another component of the audit is to evaluate our day-to-day business practices and how they match our documented processes.
"In other words, they're checking to make sure we do what we say we're going to do."
Jones added the inspectors, Merlyn O'Hara and Don Ashford, had both been to the depot before and were highly interested in reviewing Tobyhanna's processes.
"They have high expectations for us and they are especially interested in how we train our workforce to ensure they are qualified to perform on a daily basis," said Jones.
After surveying various production support and mission cost centers, O'Hara and Ashford recommended the depot for continued registration and certification. However, they also identified areas with room for improvement.
"Different perspectives and ideas from neutral sources enable us to broaden our scope and make changes within the organization," said Anthony Rubin, chief of the Communications Systems Directorate's Communications Security Division. "Now that we have received feedback from an outside source, we can move forward and be better prepared for future audits."
As an installation certified by both ISO and AS standards, the depot can set itself apart from other organizations in terms of quality.
"These certifications give Tobyhanna an edge when competing for workload," said Rubin. "With visible and tangible processes established and instilled in our operating culture, our commitment to quality and the improvement of our quality standards will make us the leading contender compared to installations that are not certified."
Depot commander Col. Gerhard P.R. Schröter said the auditors gave Tobyhanna high ratings in several areas.
"The inspectors were impressed by our hospitality, cooperation and commitment to process-oriented production with a focus on the health and safety of our people," said Schröter.
Recertification is valid for three years, with surveillance audits taking place the second and third years of each cycle. The depot's next recertification audit is scheduled for April 2014.Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.
About 4,500 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.