HWF NOTES ©
ISO - 9000
Do you know what ISO-9000 is ?
If you don't now, you certainly will in the future.
The ISO-9000 series is a set of international "quality systems" standards for designing, manufacturing and servicing the products your company produces. This "quality system" is audited by a third party with the resulting report being published. This third party audit of the quality system can be likened to a financial audit. Financial health is determined by an examination of the balance sheet; product quality is determined by an examination of the quality system. Keep in mind that ISO-9000 is a goal oriented, customer driven system of quality control and quality assurance.
Benefits to using the ISO-9000 standards:
- Quality improvements
- Improved liability protection
- Documented and published proof of compliance by a non-interested third party
The ISO-9000 standards are widely used in the European economic community (EEC). Over 50,000 sites are registered to these standards. As an example, the EEC requires Ready-mix plants to conform to an ISO-9000 standard for concrete used in public works projects.
Currently in the United States, over 700 sites are registered. If you peruse many technical journals, you have probably been reading predictions about the coming of ISO-9000 for some time.
You may feel that since your company does not export, you don't need to conform to this international standard. However, the U.S. Department of Defense is considering replacing it's MIL-Q-9858A with this internationally recognized standard. The FDA has indicated it may replace some of it's standards with ISO-9000 series standards. The Chemical Industry is already taking ISO-9000 seriously.
Does this mean that every "widget" made in the world will be the same? No, it does not. Again, ISO-9000 is a goal oriented, customer driven system of quality control and quality assurance. You set the standards you wish to achieve. ISO-9000 series standards only require a company to document what it does, and then do what it documents.
In a manufacturing facility, for instance, each part of the process would be documented. In the case of cement manufacturing, each step would be written out; raw material preparation, kiln operation, clinker processing and cement production. This type of documentation would also be true of the waste fuels operation.
To illustrate the objective of ISO-9000 documentation, consider the following example. What if a company were to suddenly replace all personnel? Their replacements could theoretically use the ISO-9000 documentation to continue making the product at the same level of quality, or employee safety, or environmental safety. Obviously they would not do it as quickly at first, but the documentation would be available for them to follow and produce the same level of quality. We believe that the use of ISO-9000 standards are inevitable for every manufacturer.
ISO-9000 standards are not limited to manufactured goods. They can be used to assure the quality of services and management systems as well. In 1994, the International Standards Organization will issue an ISO-9000 standard especially for Environmental Management. We often here how we live in a "Global Community". In the future, the international standards of that global community will become the minimum standards.
There are three areas in which it is easy to start integrating the ISO-9000 standards into your company. These areas are; the hazardous waste fuel QA/QC laboratory, environmental compliance, and cement product quality control. These areas already must conform to regulatory standards. Having multiple standards is somewhat of a problem in maintaining compliance. Conforming to an ISO-9000 standard in these areas will integrate the various requirements. The assigned responsibilities and documentation requirements of the ISO-9000 standards will assure complete compliance to the required regulations as well as with contractual obligations and corporate policies. The third party audits and published audit reports will confirm and announce the efficacy of the program.
Unlike Total Quality Management programs that can become complex and burdensome, the ISO-9000 standards can be limited to key areas.
ISO-9001 covers the entire process from product design through after sales service.
ISO-9002 covers only the manufacture (or a specific service such as a QC/QA laboratory) of the product.
ISO-9003 covers the "final inspection" of the product only.
ISO-9004 is an "Internal Use" standard - it cannot be registered and is not subject to the third party audits.
ISO-9000 may seem like another fad or paperwork generating activity. But in fact, much of the documentation that you currently have can readily be adapted. Plus, you are able to choose the ISO-9000 standard that best addresses your current needs and add additional standards as required. ISO-9000 definitely has the potential to help you achieve your product/service quality goals.