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NEWS | April 24, 2020

Depot goes virtual to extend AS quality certification

By Ms. Danielle E. Weinschenk,

A commitment to a quality culture and the flexibility to undergo a “virtual” audit earned Tobyhanna Army Depot an extension of its certification in the coveted Aerospace 9100 Standard (AS) last week.

AS 9100 is an aerospace standard derived from the ISO 9001 quality system. Often called “ISO on steroids,” AS includes additional quality system requirements demanded by the aerospace and defense industries – requirements that are essential to support the depot’s maintenance efforts on avionics components for military aircraft. Tobyhanna has maintained industry-standard quality certifications since 2003.

“Traditionally, the Depot would have external auditors on-site for six days doing an in-depth investigation into our quality management system (QMS),” said Bill Stevens, a quality assurance specialist in the Quality Management Directorate. “Due to the pandemic, the auditors weren’t able to come here. So we had to get creative to maintain this important certification.”

The virtual AS audit included a series of phone interviews with quality personnel and directors from the C4ISR, Field Logistics Support, Production Engineering, Production Management and Systems Integration and Support Directorates. In addition, Stevens says auditors did a rigorous review of the depot’s quality documentation from all organizations.

“It was challenging to say the least, but our workforce is always ready for an audit. That’s why we passed with flying colors.”

The depot’s quality assurance program runs 365 days per year.

“Because we stress keeping these principles in mind all day, every day, we now have a real culture of AS across the depot,” Stevens said, adding that a main driver of the program is peer-to-peer feedback. Leaders are encouraged to complete cross-audits in each other’s cost centers, allowing for an outside set of eyes and the opportunity to share best practices across the leadership chain.

“Auditors could come any day, unannounced, and we would pass the audit, 100%,” said Stevens. “AS principles are a part of how we all do business.” Robert Haas, Director of Quality Management agreed.

“Our workforce understands the importance of providing the highest Quality products to our customers, our Warfighters, enabling them to carry out their critical missions and now in support of the fight against COVID-19. Our AS QMS assures us that highest level of Quality.”