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NEWS | July 24, 2023

Tobyhanna retains industry-standard quality certification after rigorous external audit

By Nicolo Manzo, Public Affairs Specialist and Danielle E. Weinschenk, Lead Public Affairs Specialist

Members of Team Tobyhanna pride themselves on providing only the highest quality equipment to our nation’s warfighters.

Confident in the products it provides, and in order to ensure that those lofty standards are being upheld, Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD) recently underwent a lengthy external audit of its quality management system (QMS).

Representatives from National Quality Assurance (NQA) U.S.A., Inc., an accredited international organization for standardization certification body, conducted the audit, which verified Tobyhanna’s conformance to the Aerospace 9100/9110 Standard (AS). AS 9100 requires a more rigorous QMS to support TYAD’s aerospace and defense workloads. Only 21,000 companies have been certified to the AS 9100 standard and a mere 880 hold the more complex AS 9110 credentials.

The assessment consisted of more than 100 on-site auditor hours, and more than 40 hours in preparation with auditors remotely. The audit team was comprised of individuals from across the nation – some who had visited TYAD several times before while others received their first look at Tobyhanna’s facilities, equipment and capabilities.

These varied levels of familiarity with the depot meant TYAD officials could trust in the process and show growth but also get a novel perspective from fresh eyes.

Quality Assurance (QA) Specialist Bill Stevens said TYAD’s long relationship with the team inspires confidence.

“The depot is looking for an honest assessment, and the long relationship with the audit team creates trust and brings confidence in decision-making. We know they will be fair; however, because they have experience with our QMS, we know they will be tough critics,” said Stevens.

Stevens added that bringing back familiar faces also allows TYAD to showcase the areas in which they’ve made meaningful strides, saying “Familiarity provides an opportunity to see growth. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made.”

Prior to conducting the audit, members of the audit team said one area of interest was TYAD’s transition from AS9100 Rev C to AS9100 Rev D, which focused quality functions on the process level, according to audit team member Keith Beaulieu. Other areas of interest were calibration, growth and TYAD’s overall progress from its initial certification.

Audit team member Don Ashford stressed that the team comes into each audit with an open mind, saying the team is “not looking for non-conformances, but instead for conformances.”

Members of TYAD’s QA Division guided auditors through several work areas across the depot, including painting and refinishing, fabrication and assembly, machining, cable manufacturing, electronics and more.

The audit team lauded the QA personnel for ensuring an efficient, yet thorough audit.

John Kasaczun is currently on a developmental assignment in the QA Division, so being a part of the external audit process helped him to become a more well-rounded employee.

“I’ve been on several internal audits and have been on the opposite side of external audits as well; it was nice to see an external audit from this vantage and how they tie together. It is nice to see that TYAD is continuing to produce products of excellent quality,” said Kasaczun.

At the conclusion of the audit, the team presented overwhelmingly positive results. They praised organizational growth, the incorporation of innovative technology to improve quality, the commitment to organizational philosophy and the hard work of Team Tobyhanna.

Audit team member Keith Beaulieu said TYAD has taken its lofty standards to new heights since his last visit.

“The cleanliness of the depot is immensely improved. I enjoyed the metrics Tobyhanna uses for each cost center and how they work to them. Division chiefs had action plans on how to meet metrics and how to correct in the event metrics weren’t met. The people really understand the importance of what they do – supporting the warfighter,” said Beaulieu.

O’Hara said each shop’s commitment to organizational standards and training ensures quality will continue to improve into the future.

“Each shop uses the same process – they’re well-organized, well-kept and are taking care of the customer’s product. Everything is improved (since my last visit); it’s a testament to process and training,” said O’Hara.

TYAD QA personnel were equally impressed with the honest, constructive and meticulous work of the auditors.

Wayne Daniels said it was particularly gratifying to have the auditors witness growth firsthand.

“The audit team was very professional and precise. Being that they did initially certify us, it was awesome to have them come back to see growth from inception to now,” said Daniels.

The audit team cited minor nonconformances to AS, none of which were repeat nonconformances – a huge success, according to Stevens. Most of the nonconformances focused on recordkeeping and process discipline, two cultural items that are easy to address, he said.

Members of the audit team will return to TYAD in late April to validate the effectiveness of the corrective actions related to the nonconformances and offer further collaboration to foster growth for Team Tobyhanna.

O’Hara thanked TYAD on behalf of NQA and said the organization strives to be value added to TYAD.

Stevens said most importantly, the results of this audit will better position TYAD to support its mission.

“I appreciate the attentiveness and honesty of the audit team. (TYAD) will use this audit experience and its results to improve quality and ensure only the best products are being provided to our nation’s warfighters.”

QA Division Chief Vincent Nguyen praised the depot workforce for their efforts in making the audit a success.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intentions, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution. Achieving the AS9100/9110 recertification required total commitment from the entire TYAD team. For that reason, I would like to thank the entire TYAD workforce for their continued dedication to our QMS and willingness to deliver quality products to the warfighter,” he said.

Stevens, Daniels and other QA personnel maintain a year-round program to surveil TYAD’s QMS and ensure TYAD is always working within the AS standard.

Maintaining the AS certification and a healthy QMS across the enterprise is directly aligned with Tobyhanna’s long-range strategic plan, TOBY2035. 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 command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (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, postproduction software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 3,200 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.