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NEWS | Oct. 22, 2020

Tobyhanna Army Depot earns aerospace standard re-certification

By Ms. Danielle E. Weinschenk

Tobyhanna Army Depot’s certification in the Aerospace 9100 Standard (AS) was recommended for renewal last week after a sweeping audit by outside officials.

AS 9100 is 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, which are vital to support the depot’s maintenance efforts on avionics components for military aircraft. Tobyhanna has maintained industry-standard quality certifications since 2003.

Recertification audits are the most rigorous type of audit, with auditors from Orion Registrar spending a total of 19 auditor days scrutinizing the depot’s operations, business practices and adherence to the AS standard. The assessment included extensive interviews with depot leadership at all levels, a detailed review of quality documentation and unfettered access to the production floor across all shifts. At the conclusion of the evaluation, auditors praised the organization, applauding the depot’s modern facilities and culture of continuous improvement.

“There are many things that are great here, but Tobyhanna’s best asset is its workforce,” said Eric Barnes, Lead Auditor. Team auditor Dan Wyrick agreed.

“In our experience, depot personnel were welcoming, energetic and excited to speak with us.”

One area of focus for the auditors was the C4ISR Directorate’s Command Post Systems Branch, led by Patrick Connolly. The branch was highlighted by Barnes and Wyrick for a job well done during the audit. Connolly says he can’t personally take credit for the accolades.

“The team members are responsible for the branch’s successful performance in the AS audit,” he said. “They drive our culture. I’m especially proud that they are open to feedback and corrective actions to constantly improve and grow as a branch,” adding that another factor in audit success was the method employed by Orion personnel.

“I can’t thank the auditors enough for their approach to this audit. It wasn’t like a test or a rigid inspection. Instead, they approached us as partners with a great deal of respect.”

Electronics worker Ariana Katchur was interviewed at length during the audit. She shared Connolly’s opinion of the auditors.

“When people hear the word "audit" in general, they associate it with something bad. However, audits are a great learning experience, as well as an important part of keeping our quality where it needs to be in order to support the Warfighter to the best of our abilities. While I was a bit nervous before the audit, the auditors were down to earth, asked questions that made sense, and made the whole experience a positive one overall.” Melody Demaree, an electronics mechanic helper in the branch, agreed.

“The auditors are welcome to come back anytime.”

Within their recommendation for recertification, the auditors cited additional best practices at the depot, including a strong organizational commitment to employee development. Six opportunities for improvement (OFIs) were also noted, according to Christopher Musso, Chief of the Quality Assurance Division.

“One OFI was that our current documentation, specifically mission directives, includes some language that is slightly ambiguous. The auditors recommended we do a comprehensive document review to ensure this is eradicated. My team will be working with stakeholders across the depot to address this OFI, which will allow us to grow our quality management system even further,” he said.

Musso assumed responsibility for the division in August and leads a team of 20 quality assurance specialists, engineers and technical library technicians. He says his first audit experience was a memorable one.

“The audit was extremely meticulous. Despite the challenges we faced with such a large audit during a worldwide pandemic, we persevered. I am truly proud of our quality team,” he said. “I also want to thank Team Tobyhanna for being audit ready and performing so exceptionally. We couldn’t have achieved this recertification without cooperation across the board.”

The depot’s AS recertification will be valid for three years. Auditors will return to Tobyhanna for a less intense surveillance audit in late 2021.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for C5ISR systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 4,000 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, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.