Few things are as critical to protecting the lives of warfighters serving in the line of duty as a trusted weapon system firing accurately at a moment of need. Crane Army’s quality assurance team is the vital link ensuring that the munitions the men and women in uniform receive function as they should every time.
Quality assurance is a multi-faceted effort that uses a variety of techniques to evaluate the quality of the munitions and munitions components CAAA processes to ensure the products fit what the industry customer—and ultimately the end user—wants and expects.
“Quality assurance is how we have the confidence that we are meeting our customer’s requirements,” said Quality Assurance Manager Lara Zilafro. “It’s our objective evidence that what we are supplying to the warfighter will meet the function requirement safely.”
That confidence comes from the breadth of CAAA’s quality expertise which allows each portion of the team—from quality assurance to quality control to non-destructive testing—to focus on the details, providing greater and more in-depth inspections of munitions overall.
“Having so many quality check areas provides oversight internally,” Zilafro said. “For example, a quality assurance specialist will check what quality control inspectors do so we have a second set of eyes. Quality is so huge that it helps to narrow things down, develop an expertise in specific areas and work across those areas of expertise to get the big picture taken care of.”
Zilafro said that quality assurance and quality control specialists pay attention to every little detail throughout every part of the munitions handling process to make sure that there are no surprises when those munitions are in the hands of the warfighter.
“Quality assurance and quality control have to have attention to detail,” Zilafro said. “They basically have to be experts on instructions and specifications, interpret them and apply them to what we do at Crane Army and a lot of times it gets very deep into the nitty gritty.”
Quality control specialists can be found on the line inspecting the munitions production process and packaging. There are also a variety of other quality checks like inspecting machine parts, dimensions or the chemistry of munitions.
“Quality control inspectors are each subject matter experts on the munitions quality standards,” Caleb Shelton, a CAAA ammunition inspector supervisor, said. “Each quality assurance specialist adds a different perspective into what it takes to ultimately provide quality, reliable munitions.”
Senior Explosives Operator Supervisor Jonathan Boyd agrees.
“As constant as our safety considerations are in each process, we are equally concerned with the quality of the work performed. Our quality control inspectors play an integral role in both,” Boyd said. “Each inspector brings a deep knowledge with them that benefits planning, set-up, and execution of our mission. We lean on that knowledge, and we’re thankful for it on a daily basis.”
When there are issues with munitions performance, the non-destructive testing team can perform investigative tests to see why something isn’t behaving properly using non-invasive procedures.
“If one of the production areas starts having failures, we may be asked to x-ray an item and see if we see something wrong. We also do dye penetrant on tooling to check for defects not visible just by looking at it,” said Cindy Colvin, a CAAA non-destructive testing supervisor. “Nondestructive testing personnel look at the inside of a munition while the quality control personnel look at the outside to make sure it is right.”
While quality control inspectors and non-destructive testers evaluate the munitions themselves, quality assurance personnel look at the processes quality control uses to make sure the systems themselves are thorough and effective.
“Quality assurance is the oversight over all of those quality control processes,” said Zilafro. “When quality control is on the line checking munitions, quality assurance audits the process quality control uses.”
The quality assurance employees are thoroughly educated professionals that provide a detail-oriented approach to building quality munitions. Their knowledge and skill mean that the warfighter gets what they need when they need it most.
Quality assurance personnel work throughout their day with the customer’s end product preference in mind. While the production team is also dedicated to the needs of the customer, their focus lies mainly in meeting the necessary deadlines and quantity. Quality assurance and production work together to ensure that both parts of the customer’s vision are met, even if flagging issues postpones production.
“Quality assurance has to have the courage to do the right thing because they are the voice of the customer here at Crane Army,” said Zilafro. “The quality control inspectors have to have the courage to stand up and do what’s right and sometimes that’s not an easy thing to do.”