Ensuring America’s warfighters have the best quality products starts with training those who inspect the items from vendors, a Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Clothing and Textiles supervisor said.
Approximately 20 quality assurance representatives from the Defense Contract Management Agency visited DLA Philadelphia Aug. 5 as part of a required two-week training, C&T Technical Support Branch supervisor Elizabeth Roland said.
The training is coordinated by DLA’s training office, DCMA and Philadelphia University, the nation’s first textiles college.
“We partner with Philadelphia University because they have the expertise,” Roland said. “They can really present a full range of technical topics about how cloth is made, [how] fibers are formed and that sort of thing.”
The training provides QARs with an overview of C&T procured items, the U.S. clothing and textiles industry, and the supply chain. This helps QARs understand what to look for during inspections as they accept or reject items based on customer requirements.
Nine days of the 10-day course are spent at Philadelphia University. The last day includes a visit to C&T and DLA Land and Maritime’s Product Testing Center. While visiting DLA, C&T technical supervisors and product specialists meet the QARs to establish a personal connection, as they work together often, Roland said.
“One of the things that I stress as I’m teaching my portion of the class is how critical it is for our product specialists and the QARs to talk to each other,” Roland said. “It’s important for the QARs to get this overview of the industry, the [products] and the people who work here, so that we can really communicate and make the best possible decisions for both our customers and also our vendors.”
Product specialists help QARs determine what materials are usable by sharing their understanding of items’ functionality, customers’ needs and the industrial base Roland said.
DCMA quality assurance specialist David Merrill, from Seattle, Washington, said he was amazed at how much was involved in producing clothing items.
"I didn't realize how technical it was,” Merrill said. “It's [also] value added because the taxpayers are paying for this stuff, so we want to make sure that the product we're buying actually does what it's supposed to do out in the field for these military individuals."
There have been four training sessions this summer, with approximately 100 students participating.