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NEWS | Aug. 24, 2022

External audit finds Tobyhanna’s quality management system fits the bill

By Ms. Danielle E. Weinschenk

Tobyhanna Army Depot’s quality management system (QMS) will retain the sought-after Aerospace Standard certification after an in-depth surveillance audit by an outside organization last week.

The assessment, conducted by Orion Registrar, verified Tobyhanna’s adherence to AS 9100/9110 – an industry standard that has been achieved by only 20,000 companies worldwide. Like the ISO 9001 certification, AS 9100/9110 requires a more rigorous QMS to support aerospace and defense workloads. Tobyhanna has maintained industry-standard quality certifications since 2003. Only 850 companies worldwide hold the AS 9110 certification.

This year’s audit was anything but typical, according to William Stevens, a quality assurance specialist in the Quality Management Directorate (QMD).

“Surveillance audits, which are conducted between recertification audit years, involve two auditors on-site for five full days – a total of ten auditor days. This year, an emergency kept one auditor from attending, so we expanded the audit to two weeks, one of which was virtual. The depot workforce did a great job adjusting to the constantly changing – and faster paced – approach for this important audit.”

Stevens and other personnel from QMD maintain a year-round program to support the QMS and ensure quality practices are a fundamental part of Tobyhanna operations.

“We don’t just produce quality product on audit days,” said Wayne Daniels, another of QMD’s quality assurance specialists. “We train employees from day one to ensure they are working within the AS standard. We also have outreach programs – such as our weekly AS Steering Committee – to connect regularly with leadership at all levels, ensuring quality is at the forefront of our processes.”

Orion’s Lead Auditor, Eric Barnes, brings a unique viewpoint to his position after spending more than thirty years working for the government – first, as a solider in the U.S. Army responsible for mechanical upkeep of military aircraft. Barnes then worked as a contractor for the Department of Defense (DoD), supporting a similar mission. Depot personnel say Barnes’ background make him a better auditor.

“Eric’s knowledge and years of experience give him insight into our mission, allowing us to draw upon his expertise as we further grow our QMS,” said Daniels, adding that Barnes’ appreciative approach makes the audit more effective.

“Being able to work with our auditor as a cooperative partner as opposed to an adversary is huge.”

Within his recommendation for recertification, Barnes cited numerous best practices and noted the competence of the depot workforce.

“The whole team is open, professional, and willing to take feedback. I’ve been coming here for several years, and I definitely see a cultural shift happening – quality is becoming even more of a focus, which is impressive.”

Auditors will return to Tobyhanna in 2023 to conduct a recertification audit to the AS standard.

Maintaining the AS certification and a healthy QMS is directly aligned with Tobyhanna’s long-range strategic plan, TOBY2028. The plan has four strategic focus areas: Invest in Our People, C5ISR Readiness, Shape the Future and Strategic Communications and aims to posture the organization for future success.

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 3,500 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.