Letterkenny Munitions Center Expands Non-Destructive Testing Options; Adding Eddy Current Testing To An Already Extensive List
By Jeremy Shoemaker and Brent BrooksAugust 11, 2020
Providing a quality product is the cornerstone of any successful operation. Industry competition in the marketplace has elevated customer expectations and those customers now insist that certain quality metrics are in place and consistently achieved. Natural progression also dictates that as technology is developed that is designed to assist in reaching these quality goals, operations must stay on the cutting edge of these advancements in order to maintain marketplace relevancy. The belief that in order to ensure industry competitiveness tomorrow, organizations must be consistently evolving their operational competency today, is a business philosophy that the Letterkenny Munitions Center (LEMC) fully embraces.Established in 1941, LEMC has positioned themselves as a premier location for quality and cost effective missile maintenance, ordnance storage, demilitarization, and non-destructive testing options serving both domestic and allied foreign military (FMS) customers. Included in their portfolio are a number of non-destructive testing (NDT) options that not only ensure the integrity of their finished product, but also provide their customers, as well as the taxpayers, with significant cost savings. The importance of product integrity is greatly emphasized when the end user is a military customer where equipment failure will most certainly have major impact on the mission. LEMC takes great pride in making sure the Warfighter has a quality product that will not let them down when they need it the most.Understanding these principals, LEMC is now utilizing eddy current technology (EDT) on Aircraft Armament Equipment (AAE) to locate stress metal cracks in mounting locations and other high stress areas. Typically, these deficiencies occur during flight, landings, or missile launch. Due to LEMC’s recent certification in EDT capability, defective AAE can be identified and either repaired or taken out of inventory. While other methods are available for this kind of structural testing, LEMC’s EDT certification allows for the testing to be done on-site and eliminates the need to transport materials to multiple locations and increased cost associated with that transport.By utilizing electromagnetic fields and a specially designed coil with alternating current, EDT allows for crack detection, material thickness measurements, coating thickness measurements, conductivity testing, medium identification, among other applications. EDT also provides real time feedback to the user and is able to identify imperfections in material that may be missed by X-ray or other more traditional testing means. Because the test kits themselves are small in size, EDT is easily portable and may be a more favorable option for specific applications.Both the United States Navy (USN) and United States Air Force (USAF) have set intervals for this testing. Due to the potential for sustained stress on components relative to the frequent take-off and landing on aircraft carriers, the USN operates on a more frequent testing schedule. LEMC is currently working on materiel for the USAF, with USN workload scheduled to begin later this month.