Pantex Blog

Defense Programs Awards of Excellence: Extrudable Pressing Team

Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 00:00

Pantex and Y-12 received numerous Defense Programs Awards of Excellence. The award program highlights those who have made a significant difference in improving any phase of the nuclear weapons life-cycle process. The Extrudable Pressing Team was one award winner.

Some jobs at CNS clearly define how they help protect global security. With organization names like High Explosives Manufacturing, High Explosives Facility Management, Projects, and Tooling & Tester Design, it’s pretty evident. Recently, this specialized team from Pantex solved issues surrounding the need to manufacture extrudable explosive components for ongoing Joint Test Assembly activities and future Life Extension Program deliverables and was recognized with a Defense Programs Award.

Extrudable Pressing TeamTeam member Lennon Mings said, “The scope and the purpose of the project are in direct support of aiding the front line of global security, so that motivation initiated the project. In fact, the project plays a pivotal role in ensuring global security.”

Production of war reserve extrudable explosive components had not been performed at Pantex for decades. Much of the tooling was unreliable after many years of limited use, and the designated facility was not up to operational standards.

Mings said, “I think the greatest accomplishment of the team was the design and implementation of a piece of equipment that is instrumental in the success of Pantex and future work. The project required the synergy of multiple disciplines (project management, explosive engineers, tooling engineers, facility management and engineering technicians). As a result, based on demonstrated work, we have developed a process that is capable of producing products better than ever before.”

Project manager Tim Harris said, “Our team initiated action to upgrade the facility, install a new extruder, develop new tooling, modernize technical operating procedures and support documents, train technicians to perform operations, update process hazards analysis review and update and qualify the overall process through readiness activities.”

Mings said, “Tim ensured the team had the right members; he was the motor that moved the project along.”

“This project was a major highlight in my career at Pantex,” Harris said. “The team made the project a success.”

Pantex B83 team receives DP Award of Excellence

Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2016 - 00:00

Pantex and Y‑12 received numerous 2014 Defense Programs Awards of Excellence. The award program highlights employees who have made a significant difference in improving any phase of the nuclear weapons life-cycle process. The recent awards ceremonies at each site honored programs from the 2014 fiscal year.

We have all done it as a child — trying to guess what is in a wrapped present. You might have picked it up to see how much it weighed or shook it to see if you could figure it out. Now, imagine trying to do that but not being able to really touch the package. A group of employees in the Non‑Destructive Evaluation Operations department was asked to perform a similar task when Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory wanted them to X‑ray a part of the B83 program to see how it was holding up. This required the team to X‑ray the B83 component while it was still in its container.

B83 Sealed Insert Radiography team

The B83 Sealed Insert Radiography team.

“Normally, we can take parts out and position them so that we are able to get the best view and ensure we are seeing the part needed,” said Aaron Buxbaum, Pantex Production section manager. “In this case, for various reasons, we were not able to take it out of its storage container.”

The component from the B83 program had already been sealed in a container, and taking it out would be a timely and costly process. Rather than unsealing the containers, the B83 sealed insert team worked around that roadblock and found a way to successfully X‑ray the component, without disturbing it inside the container. Before starting the process of X‑raying, engineering instructions had to be written and flex training had to be taught to the technicians involved.

“Our technicians did an outstanding job on this project, and, thanks to them, we were able to see what we wanted to see,” said Buxbaum.

There were several items to be X-rayed, and the team was able to fulfill the request and provide Lawrence Livermore with the necessary data.

“We were able to X‑ray all of the items that were requested,” said Bobby Hutchison, Production section manager. “And not only were we able to complete the assignment, but we were able to do so without disturbing the part’s existing condition and lessened the amount of radiation exposure.”

Not only were they successful, but the team was able to implement a new cost‑saving technique that is available to use on other programs if ever needed.

CNS–sponsored teams compete at DOE’s National Science Bowl

Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2016 - 00:00

Our nation’s capital recently played host to the country’s future science and technology leaders during the U.S. Department of Energy’s 26th National Science Bowl®. The 116 regional winning teams and their coaches, hailing from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, assembled at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center for an action-packed five days of science activities, sightseeing and competition.

Darla Fish greets an Ascension Academy student

Pantex’s Darla Fish greets an Ascension Academy student as teams check in for the National Science Bowl® at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Maryland.

Three of the teams — Amarillo High School and Ascension Academy (middle school) from Texas and Cedar Springs Home School (high school) from Tennessee — won regional competitions sponsored by Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC.

CNS employees Darla Fish and Allison Roberts, coordinators of the Pantex Regional Science Bowls, joined the hundreds of other volunteers to make the event a success. “It’s so rewarding to our local youth participating in such a well run math and science event,” said Fish.

DP Awards of Excellence focus: Pantex Tester Design

Posted: Monday, June 13, 2016 - 00:00

Pantex and Y 12 received numerous 2014 Defense Programs Awards of Excellence. The award program highlights those who have made a significant difference in improving any phase of the nuclear weapons life-cycle process. The recent awards ceremonies at each site honored programs from the 2014 fiscal year. The Pantex Tester Design team was recognized at the ceremony.

The Pantex Tester Design team received a DP Award for designing, fabricating and implementing the PT4176 digital ohmmeter on the W88 program and will expand implementation to the rest of the active programs.

Erich Grebel, Dustin Allen and Paul Brock

From left: Erich Grebel, Dustin Allen and Paul Brock accept the Defense Programs Award for their work on the Pantex Tester Design.

Team member Erich Grebel said, “For me, our team’s greatest accomplishment was the ability to coordinate and implement design specifications from three laboratories, the Department of Defense and the United Kingdom. At times the design requirements were conflicting or competing, but implementation of this tester to meet the needs of all of the interested parties, while meeting core design requirements, was an incredible engineering task.”

The PT4176 replaces a 35 year old, unsupportable tester that is the most widely used tester at Pantex. Design of the new tester was a challenge because of the wide array of requirements for this single ohmmeter. The team was able to address these challenges and the result was a safe, reliable and accurate tester. The PT4176 has been qualified for use on explosive components and nuclear weapons, and offers significant benefits to Pantex, the design agencies and DoD.

Working on this team helped Grebel see his role in the Front Line of Global Security. He said, “Category 1 testers are a critical component of certifying the nuclear stockpile. These testers provide quantitative data that is used in determining function, monitor degradation and perform surveillance on nuclear weapons. The PT4176 will be the most widely used tester for our nation’s nuclear deterrent.”

Other team members included Dustin Allen, Donald Collins, Todd Wester and Kenneth Larkan.

Pantexans march in remembrance

Posted: Monday, June 13, 2016 - 00:00

The Bataan Memorial March is held annually at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to honor the American and Filipino troops imprisoned by the Japanese and forced to walk through the Philippine jungles on the Bataan peninsula.

“It’s a 26.2 mile march through the hills and sand around the missile range,” said Juan Dominguez, a Pantex guard. “This was my third time to participate and it’s not an easy task.”

Bataan Memorial March
Participants honored World War II troops during the 26.2-mile Bataan Memorial March.

Dominguez got with some other guards in his group, Matt Ramos, Robert Coffman, and Chris Houts, about six months before the annual march, and they started planning their trip through the high mountain desert. Ramos, Coffman, and Houts had never participated before.

“Any chance I have to support or show support for fellow veterans, I try to do so,” said Chris Houts. “It was also a chance to push myself and help build strong friendships with my SPO [Security Police Officer] co-workers.”

Participants march with backpacks filled with canned goods and before they start the trek the bags are weighed. “You can go light or heavy, and the bags are weighed and sealed before you take off, said Dominguez. “Whatever you leave with you carry the entire time and then at the end, the food is donated to the local food banks.”

Not only were the men honoring the individuals that march in the Bataan Death March, but they were able to strengthen their bond and make friends along the way. “The camaraderie with co-workers and participating with other marchers that have a common interest to honor and support our veterans was a huge motivation for me,” said Coffman.

High mountain deserts have enchanting views, but they also have cold mornings, warm days, and plenty of sand, and sand isn’t your friend when you’re walking for miles. Houts had a blister that covered his heel by mile 12. After about 30 minutes of care at one of the medic stations, the group was back on their way. “It wasn’t easy and it hurt like hell, but I wasn’t about to quit,” Houts said.

Coffman added that the march took you up and down the mountain and over different terrain. “You would descend down the mountain on asphalt, then back to the desert terrain and deep sand; you were constantly having to stop and dump sand out of your shoes.”

Despite the rough terrain, the men finished and vow to do it again next year. “My feet hurt for almost a month and my muscles were so sore I could hardly stand for a few days, said Houts. “With all that, it was still an amazing experience and I look forward to the opportunity to test myself again next year.”