Pantex Team Nails Down NNSA Award

  • Posted: Thursday, December 16, 2021, 3:39 pm

RAMP Program Manager Denise King, Project Manager Janet Dockery, Project Engineer Kerry Bender, and Subcontractor Technical Representative Linda Bernal.
The Pantex Roof Asset Management Program team showcases their 2021 award. Pictured, L to R: RAMP Program Manager Denise King, Project Manager Janet Dockery, Project Engineer Kerry Bender, and Subcontractor Technical Representative Linda Bernal.

Everyone working on a national security site wants to prevent leaks. Texas weather makes that harder for the Pantex Roof Asset Management Program (RAMP) team responsible for managing 2.9 million square feet of roofing across the plant. Aging infrastructure adds to the team’s challenge.

“Every time we get a good snow or rain,” said Pantex RAMP Project Engineer Kerry Bender, “I end up with about 30 emails in my inbox saying, ‘Hey, my roof is leaking.’”

Coordinating access, materials, subcontractors, and security personnel to address thousands of square miles of roofing across a secure site requires precise coordination. Any miscommunication, no matter how minor, can delay a project for weeks. Pantex RAMP Program Manager Denise King said regular delays were a troubling occurrence in the past.

“Four years ago we couldn’t get any roof work done out here,” she said. “We wouldn’t have security police officer coverage; we wouldn’t have access—we couldn’t get contractors on the roofs.”

The team set out to change their outcomes, and in October 2021, Pantex became an award-winning site when the NNSA’s Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations recognized the team’s performance with the annual RAMP award for excellence. Nine national security sites and laboratories in the RAMP Federal Program portfolio, including Pantex and Y-12, are eligible for the award.

“The annual RAMP award was started as a way to recognize the site the program felt had the best year in execution of work,” said John Dembski, materials and operations lead program manager for the NNSA’s Honeywell-managed RAMP initiative. “The criteria are based on engagement of site personnel, safety, security, planning, getting all of the right players involved early, communication with stakeholders, and overall performance improvement.”

“We reroofed 117,000 square feet in FY21,” said King. “What makes that significant is our scope – there were 30 different buildings, and we were replacing multiple roof areas on these buildings. One was over a ramp, which might not seem important, but when snow’s blowing down a ramp and you can’t get product out, it’s a problem.”

“The work we performed in FY21 took a lot of coordination,” added Pantex RAMP Project Manager Janet Dockery, who joined the team in 2020. “We would have roofing projects starting even as other roofing projects were finishing, and instead of doing this for a single project, it was for multiple roofs across multiple projects.”

The project continued on track, on time, and on budget — despite weather and COVID-19-related challenges — thanks to continuous improvement processes the team put in place and practiced during the past four years. An internal tracking system eliminated scheduling and access delays; quarterly management briefings cover improvements and lessons learned; and weekly tracking meetings allow the internal team to quickly identify and mitigate risks and obstacles.

“If we hadn’t made those improvements, we wouldn’t have this success,” said King. “We really came together as a team to work on this project and started communicating more.”

Bender said communication helped improve and build stronger relationships beyond the Pantex program that have been essential to mission success. The Pantex RAMP team works with subcontractors from Indiana and Illinois; a design team and architectural engineer with the program prime contractor in Ohio; and RAMP managers based at the Kansas City National Security Campus.

“The bottom line here is the practices we have and the relationships we’ve built with our design team, architectural engineer, and contractors— that’s why you’re seeing this award,” he said. “Over these last four years we have faced some very challenging circumstances in this roofing program, but at the same time, it’s the unique relationships we’ve created that allow those challenges to be handled and resolved so easily.”

Bender paused, then added, “Now all this work has made it into the limelight— but we didn’t change this program for recognition,” he said. “We each set out to do a job to the very best of our ability every day.”

The Pantex RAMP team includes Project Engineers Kerry Bender and Denise Moore, Project Manager Janet Dockery, Subcontractor Technical Representative Linda Bernal, and Program Manager Denise King.