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NEWS | Nov. 16, 2011

PMEL Calibrators – “All we do is win, win, win no matter what…”

By Tech. Sgt. Michael Ocampo 437th Maintenance Squadron

The 437th Maintenance Squadron Test Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Flight received a Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory certification at the Joint Base Charleston - Air Base Oct. 19 through 24.

Every two years, the 437th TXS TMDE flight undergoes a rigorous certification process. The TMDE mission is to calibrate, repair and maintain government-owned equipment used to make quantitative measurements.

Headquarters Metrology and Calibration Program sends two-man teams to inspect the flights on-the-job capabilities. The flight and facility are collectively known as the Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory.

The PMEL certification assessment is a unique audit specific to the PMEL career. It is combined with the Logistics Compliance Assessment Program inspection and the Operational Readiness Inspection.

According to the calibrators in the PMEL, the importance of re-certification also makes it every bit as stressful. Every single quantitative measurement taken in the south-east region of the United States is contingent upon the success of this laboratory's certification.

Much like the LCAP and ORI, preparation for the audit began the moment the previous visit was successfully completed two years ago.

Under the leadership of Senior Master Sgt. Frank Troyan, everyone in the management section of PMEL was reorganized well in advance of the audit inspection. This created a ripple-effect, where every person in the flight tackled a new role when compared to the previous audit.

Calibration technicians became subject matter experts, the subject matter experts became section supervisors and section supervisors became flight management. With new roles, each member took a critical look at their new responsibilities.

Six categories of the flight's operations were assessed: Management System, Measurement Capability, Quality Program, Facility, Environment Control System, and Proficiency Testing / Measurement Assurance Program.

At the conclusion of the four-day assessment, the AFMETCAL audit team conducted an out brief with Col. James Clavenna, 437th Maintenance Group commander and Maj. Phillip Tobin, 437th Maintenance Squadron commander.

In a Pass/Fail grading system, all six categories received a passing grade.

Staff Sgt Jaron Haines, Staff Sgt Ryan Yeager, Senior Airman Chad Vaughn, and Airman 1st Class Ellen Gruesen received coins for their outstanding performance.

The in-house Quality Program led by Tech. Sgt. Lee Bugay, with Staff Sgt. Rodney Bonham also received a "Noteworthy" distinction. The auditors commented that Bugay and Bonham's documentation, analysis and follow-ups to critical non-conformities found on-the-job prior to the audit were some of the most thorough and concise reports they had ever seen.

Everyone working in an area that takes quantitative measurements, whether it is using a torque wrench, multimeter, or thermometer; you can breathe easy knowing that your instrument is traceable from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, all the way down to your local PMEL. The calibration technicians of the 437 MXS TMDE flight can breathe a sigh of relief... at least until the next inspection.