The people behind HEPF: Mitch Carry

September 15, 2015

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Mitch Carry, startup manager, of the High Explosives Pressing Facility, has been a part of the project since it began.

The plan to improve the current process for manufacturing high explosives at the Pantex Plant has been in the works since 2002. The current facilities date back to the 1960s, and the equipment involved in pressing is aging and nearing the end of its service life. The current high explosive pressing process occurs in multiple facilities across the plant. The completion of the High Explosives Pressing Facility consolidates all of these processes in one building.

Mitch Carry, startup manager, has been a part of the HEPF since the project began. Carry’s role is to make sure all the required work is completed to guarantee compliance with the appropriate contract requirements for startup and safe operations. This role requires that he have a broad understanding of plant requirements and their associated regulations. It also requires that he work closely with many of the plant organizations to get the work accomplished. When there are problems, he is responsible for working with the right people to resolve the issues.

A major component in guaranteeing compliance is compiling the “objective evidence” or documentation showing that all products satisfy the requirements and prove that the facility is constructed according to strict specifications.

“We have to have documentation for all aspects of the construction,” Carry said. “For example, when you’re placing concrete, you have to be able to prove you installed the rebar correctly, properly mixed and placed the concrete, and then successfully tested the strength of the concrete in accordance with the requirements.” Proving the work was done correctly is no small feat, considering the new facility has about 8,000 yards of concrete, delivered at an average of 9 yards per truck and installed in more than 55 separate placements. “Assembling the records for each placement creates a pedigree for the final product,” he said.

The newly constructed High Explosives Pressing Facility at Pantex will consolidate and improve operations.

Whether it’s the concrete, fire extinguishers, blast doors or even the HE presses, the documents and reports that go with each item are important, and Pantex must be able to produce documentation showing that all aspects of the facility operate safely.

“The basic function of the documentation is to ensure that the facility operates safely and as designed,” said David Crump, director of Pantex Projects Management.

Being able to show that the facility is up to current NNSA regulations is a pivotal step when it comes to getting the facility ready to be occupied, and Carry’s role ensures that part of the process goes as smoothly as possible.

“He has to make sure that all of the facility and the construction and installation documentation that goes with it are available for review by the startup team,” Crump said. “Mitch is a very important to the success of the HEPF and making sure we are ready to go through the readiness process.”

Hope Wallace, project manager, collaborates with Carry by supporting the work involved in the startup process. “Mitch takes a very active role as the startup manager.” Wallace said. “He has to assemble the entire team, and he knows that it takes the whole team to get the project finished.” Even with a project of this scale, great leaders know the importance of keeping up the morale. Carry makes a point to do his best to minimize the stress levels.

“With such a long and important project, there is a lot of pressure placed on everyone, but Mitch knows that you still have to be able to have fun, and your work has to be enjoyable. He does a great job of taking off some of that pressure and it helps the team to keep moving forward,” Wallace said.

While the startup effort on a project this size is daunting, the end result will be a state-of-the-art facility unlike any other. Not only will the new HEPF replace the current, outdated facilities, it will also allow employees to work in an environment  designed specifically for this type of work.

“This facility was designed and built for high explosives processing. The whole facility is compliant with all current high explosive processing regulations required by NNSA,” said Carry.

Carry emphasized that one of the most important aspects of the HEPF is how streamlined it will make the process of pressing high explosives, which, in turn, allows for higher production.

“We are looking at our key performance parameters effectively tripling production.” Not only does the new facility allow for greater production, having everything housed in one area will decrease the amount of time Transportation has to spend moving the high explosives. This will help cut down their workload and allow Transportation to focus on other activities, Carry said.

With all of the state-of-the-art equipment and consideration that went into the design of the HEPF, Carry said that the real reason this facility will be so successful is the people who have been involved in the entire process. “There are a lot of good people working on this project, and they know the importance of making it successful. They are the reason for this facility’s success.”