Philadelphia Mint Engineers Keep Coin Production Going

By Office of Corporate Communications
February 24, 2016

John Scharschan is a general engineer at the Philadelphia Mint.
John Scharschan is a general engineer at the Philadelphia Mint.

Each department of the United States Mint supports the overall mission to serve the American people by manufacturing and distributing circulating, precious metal and collectible coins and national medals, and securing assets entrusted to the Mint.

The U.S. Mint at Philadelphia manufactures circulating coins to facilitate commerce, and produces numismatic versions of coins for collectors. The nation’s first mint makes circulating coins of all denominations, commemorative coins authorized by Congress, and produces the dies for stamping coins and medals. Philadelphia manufactures the “P” mint mark portion of uncirculated coin sets. In addition, the Philadelphia Mint employs the elite team of sculptor-engravers who create designs and sculptural models used in the production of all the nation’s coins and medals.

Manufacturing those coins and medals requires production equipment to be maintained and modified when needed, while new equipment must be designed and built to achieve specified capabilities. While many engineers and technicians assist with these tasks, those responsibilities belong to three general engineers at the Philadelphia Mint.

Their key job elements are:

  • The solicitation, commission, diagnostics, repair, maintenance, improvement, modification, decommission, and replacement of all production equipment in the plant.
  • Developing programs and projects to improve production equipment/processes, with the aid of integrated development teams (i.e., Six Sigma/Lean Projects, etc.)
  • Generating ideas and accounting for the logistic pathway to modify existing equipment to increase reliability and throughput.
  • Designing, building, predicting and monitoring the behavior of legacy and new manufacturing machines through the use of computer aided design and evaluation programs.
  • Modifying and scripting code in varied programming environments to improve the integrity of electro-mechanical systems and associated software.

One of the three general engineers in the Production Maintenance Division there is John Scharschan, who has worked at the Mint facility for eight years — the first two as a metrology engineer in the Assay Division, and the last six as a general engineer, responsible for all production equipment.

Scharschan, who said he enjoys computer gaming, reading, and playing with his kids in his off-duty time, said he enjoys his work because of the camaraderie fostered by the division head, supervisors and employees.

He said of the many projects he has worked on at the Mint, the most unusual was having to come up with a device to encapsulate the Baseball Hall of Fame silver bullion program.

“With the initial method, the operators were using a mallet to put the cap on the coins. That created rejects, with caps cracking. Due to the very short time frame of the program, an automated machine was ruled out. I came up with a tool to provide a better method of malletting the cap on the coins and reducing rejects,” he said.

The applied knowledge of general engineers keeps U.S. Mint production capability rolling during all phases of coin manufacturing.

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