News: Employee’s manufacturing skills enhance agency’s value to customers
Story by Jo Adail Stephenson
INDIANAPOLIS - “Pilots can’t pull over to the side of the road and call for assistance,” said Gary Haton, Defense Contract Management Agency Indianapolis quality assurance specialist.
That’s why Haton checks every single weld and critical characteristic on the aircraft engine parts he inspects. His work is complicated, complex and tedious - whether he’s physically looking at the final welds, inspecting a part and checking its features with blueprints/drawings, or verifying measurements using a series of gauges and wires to see if the part meets the required specifications.
Testing the product is just as important as manufacturing it.
“Welds are critically important for these aircraft engine parts,” he said.
The contractor conducts non-destructive testing to check for any cracks, which are visible under a black light. Issues such as cracks or voids in welds (indications) have to be re-evaluated to determine the problem and then correct it.
“The contractor quality manager inspects it before I even look at it,” Haton said. “They don’t try to present me with anything that isn’t ready to inspect.”
Rodger Clark, DCMA Indianapolis lead quality assurance specialist for the team, said Haton keeps him and the chain of command informed of issues as needed.
“He loves the hands-on part of the job and being in the manufacturing environment where his previous experience is a real plus to our organization,” Clark said. “He loves to share his knowledge with the newer employees to assist in their professional development.”
Manufacturing is second nature to Haton, who has been around it for more than 30 years after beginning his federal service career as a machinist in 1982 for the Air Force.
A DCMA employee for three years, he is a non-resident quality assurance specialist (mechanical) working with 18 different assigned contractors and covering a 12,000-square-mile area.
Haton’s skills are part of the added value the agency brings to its customers, warfighters and the manufacturing process, according to Army Lt. Col. Todd Spencer, DCMA Indianapolis commander.
DCMA is involved with product examination and reviews to make sure the contractor is using sufficient, standard and effective procedures.
“That’s how DCMA adds the value to the overall manufacturing process,” Spencer said.
With his manufacturing knowledge, Haton said it’s been an easy transition to quality assurance.
“I perform product examinations, audits, pre-award surveys, monitor in-process contractor functions and do the final acceptance of the product on behalf of the Department of Defense,” he said.
He expressed his appreciation for warfighters and the sacrifices they make.
“I work for our (warfighters) to get them the best possible product I can in accordance with the contract and technical requirements. If I have helped to save even just one of our warfighters' lives during my federal career, then I’ve accomplished my ultimate goal,” he said.