We live in an industrial world that is infatuated with standards and documentation. This is epitomized by the headlong rush into ISO 9000 certifications and the industry-specific spin-offs like QS-9000 (automotive), AS-9000 (aerospace), TL 9000 (telecommunications), FDA GMPs (medical) and others.
Literally hundreds of billions of dollars have been and will be spent creating, maintaining and supporting the burgeoning paperwork machine that results from these efforts. However, after analyzing all industry-sector quality requirements, they all say the same thing - be customer focused, implement continuous improvement methods and monitor and control performance. The implicit assumption in all this activity is that it makes us better at what we do. Few would argue with the premise that a periodic examination of methods and procedures is a good thing. Ideally, it causes us to question the things that we think we know and leads us to streamline our processes.
However, there is another side to this trend. The bureaucracy associated with the creation of standards and practices tends to take on a life of its own. Left to itself, it can become the objective rather than the tool. Already we have the new version of ISO 9000 (quality management system) for the year 2000. In case you thought you were done when this version has been satisfied, here comes ISO 14000 (environmental management system).
The Plastics ISO 9000 Model, a model for supply chain management, incorporates common plastics industry requirements - standards and practices for product and plant safety, environmental and health related issues. Industry-specific checklists have been developed for both toolmakers and processors to help encapsulate all industry-sector requirements. Part of the documentation process revolves around material properties. Over a period of time, the large automotive companies have come to realize that it makes more sense to develop a list of performance-based properties for an application and then allow any material that meets or exceeds this profile to be used in the application. Other industries have picked up on this approach. This gives the processor more latitude in what it purchases and the increased number of options leads to competition for the business. This means cost reduction.
Keeping procedures current with quality standards is a key motivation addressing organizational needs to ensure quality, provide for meeting customer needs and requirements, create efficient and low-cost operations and achieve marketplace success. You need to provide the administrative direction to assure that all plans, programs, budgets, safety, environmental compliance and all normal administrative requirements are met.
There are many quality tools available in today's market, but knowing when to bring out the right tool can be a challenge. Over 400,000 companies worldwide have implemented and registered their management systems using a multitude of implementation strategies. Experience has shown that no matter the approach taken, customized systems following the fundamentals enable an implementation project to have a substantial chance at success.
There are many trip-ups, traps and shortfalls to management system implementation. One substantial nightmare is the ease of developing excessive documentation, which makes a system difficult to follow. The greater the attention paid in system design, the greater the results will be. Also, create documentation strategies and solutions to support the needs of the business.
The best management systems are the ones that employees play a significant role in developing. If you have limited resources, it is recommended to hire an outside consultant who knows plastics and your business, and is able to translate the ambiguous language of standards into a down-to-earth explanation that each employee can comprehend.
The importance of an alignment of business systems with strategic business objectives is imperative. Management systems must enable the business to accomplish its goals. The use of multiple management systems is increasingly popular, and common system elements should be aligned accordingly. Top management must support the program in order for it to be successful in registration and in achieving desired performance results. The system must be transparent to the way in which the business operates. Your success is the effectiveness of the system implemented and its ability to allow your company to focus on the continuous improvement of your business and on the road to successful certification.