QA plays diverse role at Pine Bluff Arsenal
June 17, 2013
Pine Bluff Arsenal's Quality Assurance Division provides a diverse service to the installation. In simple terms, one of the division's main jobs is to make sure that all the materials received on post are of good quality before they are sent to the various production lines. The QA Division falls under the Directorate of Material Management, along with QASAS or the Quality Assurance Specialist (Ammunition Surveillance) Division, and is under the leadership of Anthony Gabriel.
"We have several roles as quality assurance specialists. One of them is to do direct material acceptance. This is where we inspect every component that comes into the Arsenal. We do this to make sure that the components for the mortars, masks and grenades meet all the correct specifications," said Scott Ellis, QA specialist. "During the component inspections, sometimes we go to the facilities where the components are made to make sure they are being made to the right specifications. We perform first article tests and lots acceptance tests for each lot of components."
"Another one of our roles is production surveillance. We go to the production lines, and follow behind the quality control folks who are making sure that the product itself is done correctly. We are basically making sure that all the steps, procedures and SOPs are being followed," he added.
Ellis said that the QA role is to represent the customer, which is typically an entity such as U.S. Army's Research, Development and Engineering Center and TACOM. "We act as third-party quality," he said. "We are making sure they have the best product possible. We are also responsible for end item acceptance, and the signing authority for those items to the customer."
QA specialists have diverse backgrounds. "Some have college degrees, some don't. Some have been in the military. I guess the biggest thing is being quality minded," said Ellis, who has been at the Arsenal since 2008. "Our roles switch up from time to time. Some will take masks and some will take mortars. We make sure we are well rounded with our products in case we need to cover for someone. The specialists that travel to the component facilities usually have backgrounds in large scale manufacturing inspections."
Several of the QA specialists also make up the internal ISO auditor teams.
"I am a tooling engineer by trade," said Kevin Atnip, a QA specialist who has been at the Arsenal for five years. "I have also been in the engineering business and have been doing machinist tool work for about 25 years now."
Atnip said that his job is mainly in the QA lab, where they receive a lot of the components that make up the end products. "We have a lot of diverse equipment here in the lab such as micrometers, gauges, calipers, a vision system, as well as a coordinates measurement machine. We use these machines to inspect all the components that come in," he said. "Everything here is to support the Arsenal- AO and CBD, as well as E&T, in producing that end product."
Chuck Scott, QA Engineer, said that his role falls more in the role of procurement of components for the lines. "We take the purchase requests and engineering requests and review them, and figure out any requirements that need to be added," he said. "Sometimes we have to send that information off for independent lab testing. After we look at all the drawings and specifications, we do a QA release. So with all three documents, contracting can now put that in the solicitations for bids so companies will know what is required."
Once the contract is awarded, the QA engineers perform first article testing at the manufacturer's facility or items are sent here for testing. "A big part of our job is doing corrective actions if the first article doesn't pass. Once the item is in production, I usually don't hear about it again unless there are issues," said Scott, who is an industrial engineer.
The QA division received two best practices from the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command during the 2012 Command Inspection, and received one best practice in 2011.