Mailport April 2012 Issue

Mailport: April 2012

Orion Update


Although it was not expired, this Orion flare (with burned tip) malfunctioned during a training course at the Annapolis School of Seamanship. The report on the mishap led Orion to evaluate and improve its flare-manufacturing process. See Mailport in the July 2011 issue for details.

I had previously indicated I would keep you informed regarding our progress in modifying the manufacturing process to assure that 100 percent of Orion handheld signals receive a wad/fiber disc separating the pyrotechnic composition from the inert handle. Practical Sailor alerted us to this issue (PS, July and September 2011), and we thank you for that.

As stated previously, the extensive testing of our products both in-house and via an independent USCG approved lab had failed to detect the problem of the missing fiber disc in the handle. However, Orion quickly implemented a 100-percent visual inspection of our hand-held flares as a stop-gap measure. Since that time, we have researched, obtained, and installed automated detection equipment that stops the machinery of our manufacturing process if this problem should manifest once again.

By carefully seeding the line in a controlled fashion with known defective flares, we have found that the installed detection equipment is more accurate at detecting missing fiber discs in the handle than even a 100-percent visual inspection. We will use random visual inspections as a safety check on the automated process, and we have revised our job safety instructions to require a visual inspection for the fiber disc during all regular destructive product testing (i.e., daily quality checks) as an additional backstop.

Thank you for helping us to identify needed improvements to our process, thereby improving the reliability and safety of our distress signals in the hands of the boaters who depend on them.

Rod Utter

Plant Manager, Orion Safety

Peru, Indiana

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