News: PPB’s calibration lab strives for success
Story by Lance Cpl. Norman Eckles
BARSTOW, Calif. -Employees working at Production Plant Barstow, Marine Depot Maintenance Command must have full trust in the tools they use every day; the same tools used to restore combat equipment that protect and transport our service members.
The Marines and Civilian Marines at the Calibration Lab on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Yermo Annex, know exactly how to fix any problems that may arise with testing equipment.
“We ensure that mechanical and electrical test equipment is working within certain test points that the technician may use it at or specified tolerances, [tolerance is the amount of deviation a test equipment may output on a desired test point], this enables second echelon maintenance and the technicians to perform their jobs with equipment correctly and safely,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua Houck, calibration technician with the Fleet Support Division on MCLB Barstow.
The Calibration Lab technicians fix multimeters, which are used to check the electrical current pulsing through various pieces of equipment, and very high end microwave equipment, that measures the correct signals and amplitude. There is also a radiatic section, where equipment is repaired and tested for radiation, explained Jermaine Sutton, electronic calibration technician with FSD.
The calibration process is a step-by-step process that can be tedious at times, Houck revealed.
The men and women that work in the electronic side of the shop, also known as calibrators, can each repair six to seven tools a day. The radiatic section can fix more than 30 pieces of equipment a day. The process can vary from a half an hour or could take multiple days. It depends on what gear comes into the lab, explained Sutton.
There is also a mechanical side of the lab that repairs and test torque wrenches, pressure gauges, weight scales and dial indicators. Each person in the lab, on average, fixes five pieces of equipment a day, explained Kyle Williams, electronics measurement technician with FSD.
“We calibrate all of the mechanical tools that are used on the base,” said Williams.
Like any job in the Marine Corps, being a calibrator is no easy task. It’s a challenge these men and women take on with pride every day, explained Houck.
“When tools come into the shop broken and in need of repair, workers are encouraged to find a solution and fix the problem; that’s an amazing feeling,” said Williams. “When you see your work come together like that it’s rewarding.”
The technicians understand that their work can mean life or death for a service member out in the field … they all take their jobs very seriously, explained Sutton.
When Sutton was an active duty Marine, his first duty station was in Cherry Point, N.C. When he first arrived a Helo crashed, this resulted in a base investigation, explained Sutton. “The investigation came all the way down to the calibration lab. They checked our equipment and everything else we use. This made me realize that what I produce could take someone’s life if it’s not done properly,” he concluded.
The critical nature of their work is not lost on the technicians, explained Houck, if a torque wrench isn’t properly calibrated and a motor transport mechanic uses that wrench to tighten a wheel on a Humvee, the wheel might not be secured all the way. This could result in the tire falling off in the middle of a combat zone during a convoy.
The Marines and Civilian Marines that work in the calibration lab commit themselves every day to ensure the tools being used at FSD, various maintenance shops, and elsewhere, are in peak and prime shape to get the job done and are an embodiment of fine detail, workmanship, perfectionist and ultimately support the war fighter, explained Lance Cpl. Blong Yang, calibration technician with FSD.