Damage Control

Lockheed Martin’s Star program was a huge deal for us. LM-Star is a new series of comprehensive test stations for supporting the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35). In order to streamline and cut costs, Lockheed designed the LM-Star primarily around our equipment and from the onset it was made to be easily configured depending on the necessary end use. Give the user exactly what he needs to do the job, nothing more. For example, a US Air Force depot would more than likely get a fully loaded LM-Star test station so technicians there could handle almost any kind of contingency such as calibration or troubleshooting on the Joint Strike Fighter’s systems. One of Lockheed’s subcontractors on the F-35 program may need to have an LM-Star station however it would only have a minimal amount of test gear in it’s racks to handle a specific aspect of JSF avionics testing. Stripped down versions of the full test stations would ensure consistency throughout the life of the program while ultimately saving both Lockheed and the Government millions of dollars.

Because we have experienced an increasing amount of hard failures in our new generations of test instruments it is causing a ripple effect in our customer’s delivery schedules and product development cycles. Every time one of our boxes fails in the field, the customer has to contact us to get the item returned and repaired. Customers have no choice but to suffer through an excessively long turn around time. Meanwhile they are losing days that turn into weeks of downtime, leading into months. Our customers also incur extra costs thanks to us. Our reputation for producing reliable gear has eroded considerably in the past few years, directly due to rushing immature designs out of the lab too soon, subcontract manufacturing, and offshoring to Asia. It’s a collective problem that was bound to creep up on us sooner or later.

I care deeply about all my customers. Whenever they have a concern or are unhappy with our performance I do whatever I can to ease or rectify the situation immediately. All our customers are important to me, but when I am dealing with Lockheed I go even further putting in extra effort to meet their expectations. Lockheed is one of my favorite defense contractors, since WWII their company has continued to serve the country well. I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the people who work at Lockheed. During the past ten years I have been supporting a variety of their programs in all branches of US military service, from building and testing carrier wave signal generators for systems in attack submarines to gear for fighter aircraft.

The first thing we had to do was give Lockheed technicians a procedure for removing that damned loose screw without causing any further problems in the unit. Working with the Bossman we decided the best thing for them to do was remove the instrument’s bottom feet, rear feet, and side strap handle. This would free the outer instrument case so it could be gently slid backwards on the frame a few inches giving easy access to pluck that screw from the box. An investigation was already underway both at our site and in Malaysia to determine the cause of the loose hardware. We had to figure this out and report back to Lockheed, pronto.

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~ by factorypeasant on July 20, 2007.

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