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TMDE Department tunes up Marine Corps equipment

US Marine Corps News

By Art Powell, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Just like their name says, Maintenance Center Albany’s Test, Measure-ment and Diagnostic Equipment Department provides test, measurement and diagnostic support services for Marine Corps ground systems. As one of two such facilities in the Marine Corps, the labs offer a variety of technical services to the Department of Defense and other government agencies.

“Metrology Branch focuses on electronic and mechanical instrument calibration,” said Pete Dembowski, manager, Metrology Branch, TMDE Department, MCA. “Calibration is an instrumental part in any manufacturing/re-manufacturing international standards accredited organization. Without calibration, the ISO (International Organiza-tion for Standardization) program couldn’t exist at the maintenance center, where calibration is an integral part of their quality system.”

The TMDE Department is responsible for verifying the accuracy of electronic, physical dimensional and optical test and measurement equipment. Virtually every weapon, vehicle or communication system used in the Marine Corps requires some type of test equipment which is used in troubleshooting, repair and/or the verification of its accuracy or proper operation.

Metrology Branch has the technical resources to ensure the test instruments used are operating correctly and are accurate and repeatable. Their test tools include automated test equipment, individual electronic testing and measurement devices and standards, torque measurement systems, and a wide variety of reference standards used in calibration support of physical dimensional test equipment such as micrometers.

“We calibrate just about every type of test equipment the maintenance center has,” Dembowski said. “We test anything that takes a measurement to ensure it works the way it’s supposed to work and they don’t get a false reading.”

The metrology lab uses reference standards traceable the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is the primary standard calibration, research and development laboratory for the United States.

“The accuracy of our instrumentation is typically 10 times more accurate than what we’re calibrating across the street at MCA. That way, we ensure we’re transferring the accuracy at a higher level than what they use,” Dembowski said.

Besides MCA, the TMDE Department also supports Marine Corps Systems Command with technical staffing to assist in procurement, fielding and training for new test instrumentation. It also provides technical staff to manage a test equipment standards exchange program in support of labs throughout the Marine Corps and to write instrument calibration procedures on newly -fielded physical dimensional test equipment.

“The Metrology Branch has an optics laboratory, an electronic calibration laboratory, a physical dimension laboratory and a calibration laboratory. Typically, our technicians have minimum of 10 weeks of calibration school, which is 480 hours of calibration training,” Dembowski said. “But, before that many have had extensive electronics training in the Marine Corps or another branch of service.”

Cooperative programs between the department and local educational institutions also provide trained technicians.

“We have programs at Central Georgia Technical College or South Georgia Technical College or Albany Technical College. The people we get are trained in electronics or metrology and they build on that once they get here,” he explained.

The work at the TMDE labs translates to support of the warfighter.

“What we do is very important to the warfighter because they need to know that the equipment they have is working properly. Just about everything the warfighter uses comes back to us in one form or another, from the infantry weapons gauges to the test equipment on radios and tanks out there in the field,” said Dembowski, who’s been at TMDE since 1991.

MCA’s TMDE Department functions as an east coast depot for the work it does and the other lab, at Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., serves as a west coast depot facility.

“We also support 12 deployable labs that are manned by Marines by ensuring their test equipment is ready when needed,” Dembowski said.

The critical work done at the TMDE Department here is important to providing the warfighter with equipment that does what it’s designed to do.

“The test instrumentation we process supports virtually every weapon system in the Marine Corps, because every system requires test equipment,” said John Powell, manager, TMDE Department, MCA. “To keep the Marine Corps moving, shooting and flying, maintainers must have test instrumentation. The Marines have to make sure their systems are working properly before being used and are accurate when fired. There’s a lot of pride in the people who work out here, because they know the importance of what they’re doing.”

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