Keeping Up with ISO

With the ISO 9001:2015 revision from 2008 in place, there is no better time to establish a practical, step-by-step roadmap to ISO success for your company.


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Keeping up with ISO standards demands attention from the top of an organization down, and with the ISO 9001:2015 revision from 2008 in place, there is no better time to establish a practical, step-by-step roadmap to ISO success for your company.

Shops continually invest in equipment, people and processes to incorporate new technologies, and strive to reduce waste and cost in all activities in order to maintain a competitive advantage. These are all key performance indicators in ISO quality management systems, which include plastics industry-specific ISO 9001; TS 16949, 13485 and 14001; and OHSAS 18001 standards. 

ISO systems are about conceptualizing problems and figuring out how to solve them. The principles of ISO provide the framework to build and grow your business, and ISO certification is a necessary step toward improving manufacturing and front-office efficiency. However, if you look at certification only as a task to be completed, you won’t truly realize all the potential it brings for process improvement. The principles of ISO must become a part of your company’s culture, led by the CEO/owner.

The intent of ISO certification is developing procedures for problem-solving, maximizing plant and front-office efficiency, increasing sales and market presence, making a profit, and maintaining cash on hand. If your ISO system is not addressing these standards, then you need help. ISO records provide financial management with a better understanding of current operations. The result is a much more accurate measure of the status and effectiveness of the organization, as well as greater transparency of operations. Internal controls can be accurately monitored and documented. With an ISO system in place, you can see how things work in a company-wide value stream map (for example, what is versus what should be, and how you can get there). You should then be able to lead, monitor and control corrective and preventive actions, improving risk management.  

So what does it take to implement a top-down approach to ISO success? Owners/CEOs are responsible for leading and monitoring operations to ensure that the company’s customer service, quality, economic and strategic objectives are met. They also develop manufacturing methods, labor utilization standards and cost analysis systems; ensure that personnel have the abilities, training and tools necessary to achieve company and operational objectives; develop processes and track performance metrics; lead and plan lean manufacturing processes, 5S methods and production improvements; and mentor sales and marketing personnel to meet and/or exceed forecasted expectations. With ISO-required documentation, records of these CEO responsibilities, along with audit performance results, are easily accessible and can be presented to all department managers to help correct problems and implement improvements.

A top-down focus on developing an internal, best-in-class, ISO-based manufacturing roadmap will ensure that your facility is lean from the ground up.