Wrapping Up Another Year of Great Growth at PacSci EMC
Gregory J. Scaven | President, PacSci EMC
If you’ve ever visited either of our facilities, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen conference room boards or manufacturing cells that have letters on display. Not just any letters, but these very specific ones: Q D I P. Those letters represent topics that we focus on in our everyday reviews. They stand for quality, delivery, inventory and productivity – and these all represent focus areas for which we have metrics to which we measure ourselves and we seek to continuously improve.
I often tell people that these metrics are listed in that order because that’s a true hierarchy. We care much more about making sure we have 100% quality before we focus on delivery – and we don’t let inventory and productivity, two key elements of what make up our cost improvements get in the way of doing what we can to support on-time delivery to customers. However, there is one symbol in this case that trumps all of that – and that’s the symbol +. Next time you visit us, look again at those same rooms or cells…and you’ll see every single one of them has the + in front of the Q and the D and the I and the P.
What is this +? In our lexicon at PacSci EMC, it’s the safety cross. And yes, it’s in front of the Q and for good reason. Every time we conduct our daily reviews, we start with safety. There’s a reason you’ll hear many of us at the company internally cite the phrase “Safety First, Quality Every Time” and it’s because it reflects how we philosophically operate and hold ourselves accountable. Some may ask: Does safety really come before quality? And my short response is an emphatic YES. I never want any of our employees to get injured in any way – and this extends to their co-workers, as well as our suppliers and our customers.
Within our corporation, PacSci EMC is recognized as having one of the best EHS programs among all of the manufacturing businesses within Fortive. Other operating company executives have occasionally reacted to this with something like – ”Well, of course they have to be safe at PacSci EMC…they make explosives, after all.” While we do manufacture components and systems that contain primary explosives, that’s not the sole reason we take safety so seriously. Every business should put safety as their number one priority – it hardly matters what goods they manufacture or what services they provide. We do this simply because we do care for our employees and their well-being above all else.
We can’t do what we do at PacSci EMC without these dedicated employees. Should they get hurt or injured, obviously it has a potentially negative impact to our customers and to our shareholders. And while we certainly don’t want that – there’s an even more important reason we want to keep them all safe. These employees are all parents, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends, husbands, wives, etc…well, you get it. They all have very important roles they all play outside the work place – and their loved ones entrust us to keep them as safe as we can so that they can do all the amazing things they do both in and out of the workplace.
Last quarter, in this very same space, I wrote all about what we were doing to keep one another safe due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It should be no surprise to anyone that we’ve spent so much time focusing on our readiness and preparedness to keep our employees safe while performing their jobs. It is – simply put – who we are. My colleagues will be discussing this commitment to safety more within this quarter’s edition of ALLFIRE. Much credit deservedly goes out to the EHS professionals we have on our teams, but the real heroes here are all of our employees for doing whatever they can do proactively to keep their coworkers
and their loved ones out of harm’s way.
Our products are designed such that they are always safe, and function exactly as, and only as, designed. This commitment can only be achieved by ensuring all of us keep one another safe as we go about delivering on our critical mission.
“Always safe, on command, when commanded” is our organizational motto at PacSci EMC. It would be difficult to imagine any phrase that more succinctly sums up what we do at this company. Our products are designed such that they are always safe, and function exactly as, and only as, designed. This commitment can only be achieved by ensuring all of us keep one another safe as we go about delivering on our critical mission.
While we’re talking about taking care of each other and our loved ones, let’s not forget that in addition to everyone’s personal safety, we also recognize that safety extends well beyond one’s physical self. Each of us should be good environmental custodians, since after all, our environment ultimately plays such a large role in providing for our health and well-being. And let us also recognize that one’s personal health is also largely dependent on their mental well-being as well. This pandemic has highlighted many mental health challenges – after all, social distancing at times can very much feel like social isolation. It’s important that we recognize safety extends way beyond simple trips, cuts, and falls – it touches all of us in many different ways and whose outcomes can be measured by the smiles we leave with our loved ones – in this generation as well as the ones to come.
RAPID SEPARATION SYSTEMS
Explosive Bolts & Separation Bolts
Applications requiring rapid separation, like stage separation, missile restraint and release, vehicle hold down, parachute release, satellite release and various emergency release systems.
POWDERS OF THE MONTH
OUR GOAL HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO EXPAND ENERGETICS POTENTIAL
A GOAL THAT WE MEET THROUGH EXHAUSTIVE RESEARCH AND INNOVATION.
Our trio of powders are the expression of that pursuit. Our chemical science team has put together three pyrotechnic powders that we’re excited about and that we think you’ll be excited about too. Here, we give you an overview of the three energetic chemicals we use. Each section presents an explanation of each pyrotechnic’s chemical composition, its advantages and precautions for use.
#1 PYROTECHNIC: ZIRCONIUM/POTASSIUM PERCHLORATE (ZPP)
What It Is
The pyrotechnic zirconium/ potassium perchlorate (“ZPP”) is a mixture of fuel (high purity micron range Zr powder) and an oxidizer (milled potassium perchlorate). ZPP has been widely used in electro-explosive devices for many years as a composition that converts the electrical energy applied to a bridgewire into sufficient heat and hot particles to initiate a downstream transfer charge or explosive output. ZPP is used in defense, automotive initiators and in the NASA Standard Initiator where it plays a critical role in initiating various pyrotechnic events in space applications. ZPP has the advantages of affording a rapid pressure rise, generating only minor gas, emitting hot particles, being very thermally stable (>450 °C) and having a long shelf life.
Why We Like It
Due to the demanding nature of applications that utilize ZPP it has been extensively investigated and the chemical, physical and output properties of mixtures with a variety of stoichiometries are well known.
Under the right conditions ZPP can meet the 1 amp/ 1 watt/ 5 minute no-fire safety requirement imposed by U.S. military design specifications (e.g., MIL-I-23659). This is partially due to the high thermal conductivity of ZPP mixtures that effectively move heat away from the bridgewire and into the bulk material under no-fire conditions. In addition, ZPP has been demonstrated to function normally at both extremely high and extreme low (cryogenic) temperatures when manufactured and loaded under optimum conditions. In more extreme environments ZPP may be utilized as a bridgewire slurry to insure consistent ignition.
ZPP is electrically conductive due to the zirconium content, which renders it particularly vulnerable to electrostatic discharge and which makes it a safety hazard during handling and loading in ordnance items. ZPP is typically produced with ~5% Viton B as a binder and may contain smaller percentages of graphite as well. Viton is incorporated to provide some level of electrostatic sensitivity protection while the purpose of the graphite is to act as a lubricant to increase packing density and as a reaction rate modifier. At Pac Sci EMC, ZPP is typically prepared via a wet process which affords safety benefits over other methods of production while producing a product that is extremely homogeneous and consistent.
How You Should Handle It
ZPP is not particularly sensitive to moisture but should be stored in a low humidity environment. Components containing ZPP are typically hermetically sealed and can have a long operational lifetime.
The extreme ESD sensitivity of ZPP requires both assembly personnel and hardware used in manufacturing processes to be efficiently grounded and have extensive PPE. Even with safeguards in place, inadvertent ignition of ZPP mixtures are not uncommon and may produce an audible crack along with an intensely bright flash.
APD personnel at Pac Sci EMC are currently engaged in development of an ESD safe non-conductive replacement for ZPP called BI-820. If successful, this mixture of organic fuel and oxidizer, in optimized ratio, may provide an output similar to other pyrotechnic systems, but would have the benefit of being non-conductive both prior to and after ignition as well as being stable at very high temperatures. Details related to BI-820 may be found in U.S. Patent Application 2020/0223766 A1.
#2 PYROTECHNIC: TITANIUM HYDRIDE/POTASSIUM PERCHLORATE (ZPP)
What It Is
THPP is a “booster” pyrotechnic and is a blend of a fuel (titanium hydride. TiH2), an oxidizer (potassium perchlorate, KClO4) and binder, typically Viton.
The primary use at Pac Sci EMC is as a pyrotechnic transfer composition where it converts the heat energy from a bridgewire pyrotechnic (usually ZPP) to generate a flame and hot particles which ignite an output charge. THPP affords a rapid pressure rise, emits hot particles and has good thermal stability.
Why We Like It
THPP was designed to be much safer (from an ESD perspective) to use during manufacturing operations compared to TiKP which contains titanium metal (similar to ZPP) and is extremely ESD sensitive.
THPP also has a lower ignition sensitivity and slower burn rate compared to TiKP and, while both materials are used in ordnance devices, they frequently have different applications. THPP is prepared at Pac Sci EMC from commercially available titanium hydride powder, finely ground potassium perchlorate and a small percentage of Viton binder utilizing a shock gel mixing method.
How You Should Handle It
Like ZPP, THPP requires both assembly personnel and hardware used in manufacturing processes to be efficiently grounded and have extensive PPE due to the ESD sensitivity of the composition. THPP, both bulk and pressed, has been found to be insensitive to initiation from a “typical” human body static discharge and so is considered safe relative to TiKP or TiH<2PP (titanium or titanium subhydride). Minor compatibility issues between THPP and typical EED materials have been found. These includes various amines commonly found in curatives for adhesive resins and common solvents.
Of note is that THPP is not as thermally stable as other common pyrotechnics encountered at Pac Sci. Long term exposure at high temperatures (>250 °C) may alter the titanium/hydride ratio which changes the safety and output properties as well as the service life of components containing the composition.
Cleanup of minor spills should be done with a 50% IPA/DI water mix and a wet paper towel for blotting. Like other EM’s, major spills require evacuation of the area.
Efficiency, as we all know, is more important now than it has ever been.
It is critical to being a viable player in the global economy. One of the ways to ensure sustainability and a competitive edge, is to utilize lean manufacturing principles. Lean manufacturing is the collective use of tools and principles to reduce waste as well as increase flow. At PacSci EMC, these tools are know as the Fortive Business System. These tools are common across all Fortive businesses as they have been proven successful.
Each of these wastes have a direct impact on both our, and our customers costs and quality. It has been shown time and again that roughly 95% of what businesses do is non-value added.
Lean helps decrease the non-value added work so that we become more viable to our internal and external stakeholders. The goal of using Lean is to create as much value for our customers as possible. We first have to identify what value is to our customer. Then deliver that value in the correct quantity, on time, with the highest level of quality. If we meet these needs, we both become successful. The continuous reduction in waste and adding value to customers strengthens our relationships.
There are several types of wastes:
► Underutilization of people’s skills
In one study, over several years in different industries, the following efficiencies were found by
thousands of survey respondents. These results are common across several studies- often much higher!
► Delivery +26%
► Inventory Turns +33%
► Productivity +25%
► Scrap Reduction -26%
► Floor Space -33%
Of course, there are risks with implementing Lean. Many think that Lean is a one-size fits-all, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Many think that a textbook can help an organization implement Lean, and do so quickly. Many follow the Toyota model (considered the originator of Lean) and wonder why they aren’t successful. Culture has a big part to play in the success of Lean, and cultures are different in every organization.
It also takes long term commitment, versus throwing a tool at a problem and hoping for instant success. We also have the responsibility of recognizing that gaining efficiencies should lead to developing and promoting people versus a cost cutting method by reducing headcount. Unfortunately, many organizations do share this same vision and “fail at Lean”. Coaching and training should be ongoing and be another long term commitment of any organization interested in becoming successful in their journey.
There are many benefits of Lean to both internal and external customers. Here are some of the most common:
► Reduced Lead Times
► Increased Productivity
► Increased Morale
► Reduction in Process Complexity
► Improved Visibility
► More Efficient Processes
► Reduction in Variability of Changing Priorities
► Better Quality
► Reduced Costs
The tools that make up the Fortive Business System are common in many Lean organizations, include:
► Daily Management
► Standard Work
► Value Stream Mapping
► Continuous Flow
► Changeover Reduction
► Inventory Reduction
► Problem Solving Process
► Total Productive Maintenance
► Visual Management
There are always unseen advantages to utilizing these principles. These will vary by to some extent, but are common across different organizations.
It gives the organization the ability to see what may have been considered failures in the past; “red is bad”, as opportunities to work on and improve.
Having greater visibility to schedules, problems, KPI’s, etc- we start to feel more engagement and less stress in dealing with what was once unknown. We fell better about our work when we can “see it”.
Individuals become more valuable by starting to problem solve and make decisions on their own, without us even knowing it at times. Teams learn to do more with less, becoming confident in their own skills and willingness to experiment.
Engagement drives upwards. People become more willing to share ideas and improvements, that may have once felt “invisible”. This eventually leads to more Subject Matter Experts in their own areas.
We become more adaptable as Lean becomes more ingrained in the culture and practiced across the organization. We are lucky to be part of one the most successful organizations utilizing Lean on all levels; from transforming an acquisition to a valuable OpCo within Fortive, down to creating flow in an individual manufacturing cell.
We’re excited for what we have accomplished; and look forward to continue working in all the business functions within PacSci EMC, as well as work with any customer who would like our help.
OUR SAFETY JOURNEY
And Why It Matters
The safety culture at PacSci EMC has been a journey of beyond compliance. Our story is one of management commitment, employee engagement and continuous improvement. Regulatory compliance to OSHA’s Process Safety Management is a fundamental expectation from our stakeholders. It’s a basic requirement for conducting our business however does not sustain a safe operation. Employee engagement and continuous improvement is what sustains our culture and differentiates PacSci EMC from others in the industry.
PacSci EMC employees are the foundation of our safety program. Without them our journey would never start. Our internal motto of “Safety First, Quality Every Time” means a whole lot more than some catchy words. It reflects our operations philosophy and is embedded in our everyday actions. It implies a mindset where everyone, including contractors and visitors, take responsibility for their actions and the environment in which they operate.
Our journey begins by recognizing that all employees have a right to a safe workplace. It’s easy to say that we are committed to achieving ZERO injuries within our operations. Our employee’s actions and commitment to a safe work environment makes a critical difference at PacSci EMC. In practice, it requires management’s commitment to support an enable an environment where engaged employees are committed to Safety First, Quality Every Time. Commitment to safety goes beyond the leadership ship, it includes a personal responsibility by all employees to ensure that their work environment is first and foremost safe for themselves and their team.
We take it one step further by asking our employees to Stop, Think, Speak Up and if needed call a TIMEOUT. It is a fundamental process, that engages employees at all levels to incorporate into a prework assessment into their daily work and activities.
Our team members are encouraged to use their right to “pull the chain and stop the train” it they deem that a TIMEOUT is needed. Each of us can Stop, Think, and Speak-up to improve our standard work processes both in the factory or in the office. Part of our Fortive Business System (FBS) continuous improvement mindset is recognizing that we can identify opportunities every day by doing things different to improve the safety and quality of our standard work processes.
Our journey requires the help and commitment of everyone to identify all potential hazards in the workplace using our Safety Observation Reporting process. We ask our employees to engage by proactively looking for potential safety hazards and improvement opportunities as they go about their work. Using FBS problem solving tools ensures that all hazards identified are addressed and systemically eliminated to prevent injuries before they occur. Problem solving allows root cause to be determined preventing the hazard from reoccurring.
Each PacSci EMC associate should expect to work in a workplace that provides outstanding safety and health protection to themselves and their team. A workplace free of injury is a top priority for our employees and our customers. It ensures the safe production and delivery of product that is always safe, functions on command, when commanded. We owe it to our employees, their families and ultimately our customer.
► ALWAYS SAFE – safe to produce, safe to handle during all phases of the product life cycle.
► ON COMMAND – unplanned initiation do not occur, never functions unless commanded.
► WHEN COMMANDED – always function when commanded.
A failure in any three may result in the catastrophic loss of life or a ruinous loss of assets. PacSci EMC’s safety journey never ends. It’s a personal commitment to overall excellence. Our journey is both real and achievable. It starts with each of us taking full responsibility for our own actions and exceeding our commitments to our customers and each other in a safe, efficient manner. Our safety journey matters because people depend on it … Always Safe, On Command When Commanded.
IN THE MOMENTS THAT MATTER
Larry Ostendorf | Vice President, Business Development
In our lives, we all have moments that matter. There are countless movie clips and clichés that come to mind even as I write this piece. Some people talk fondly about their wedding day or perhaps when their children were born. Others may have moments that defined their lives in a different manner and perhaps halfway around the world. How does the Warfighter think about the moments that matter? For sure, they think about their wedding day and birth of their children as seminal moments, but we’re willing to bet they have a few others if they have been in the line of fire.
If you fly fighter jets for a living, you tend to be spectrum. There aren’t too many things that get the hair on the back of your neck to stand up. You rely heavily on your high-performance aircraft, its systems, and its components to work right all the time. There is no question that when you are in one of those defining moments everything must work flawlessly. At PacSci EMC, we’re resolute that our components and systems will work when that pilot must perform an egress from their aircraft. We provide canopy fracture systems for numerous aircraft along with various components on ejection seats. There is no margin for error when a pilot ejects with upwards of twenty events occurring in half a second.
The final example we would like to highlight is the Javelin gunner in close proximity to the enemy and depending on the missile sitting on their shoulder to eliminate the likely most dangerous threat in front of them. Their training culminates in this important task to destroy the target. They cannot allow a single negative thought to enter their mind. The Javelin will work, and they will live on to see another day and eventually get home to their loved ones. PacSci EMC provides igniters, pin pullers, and an initiator for the Javelin to perform its mission.
Levels of danger are all relative when you are in harm’s way. Take for example the AH-64 Apache helicopter and its two Warfighters. Both the pilot and the co-pilot/gunner have critical responsibilities during each mission. Of course, they fly a little closer to direct fire than high performance fighter jets do making their daily lives that much more interesting. When they are called upon to fire their Hellfire missile or 2.75” rockets, they do not question that the missile or rockets will fly off the rails or canister and destroy the target. They have absolute confidence. PacSci EMC ensures there is no doubt when they pull the trigger through our components that support the propulsion and maneuvering of the Hellfire missile and 2.75” rocket in flight.
We are proud of our support to the US military and our Allies around the world in their moments that matter. We know our components and systems play a vital role in their lives as pilots, co-pilots, and gunners among other specialties. We strive to ensure our products work 100% of the time to allow our Warfighters the opportunity to experience those more mundane, less life threatening moments when they return home to their families.