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ISO Certification: What is it?

It all started with a piece of candy. I walked out onto the floor to complete my first audit. I knew I didn’t want to be labeled as “that auditor,” I wanted to be helpful, and I wanted to provide value. So, with these thoughts on my mind I walked up to the packager on the floor and handed him a piece of candy.

I asked how his day was.
I asked him to explain what he was working on.
Last, I asked what causes him the most frustration.

When it was all said and done our organic conversation turned into a completed audit where I was able to capture many exciting opportunities that I couldn’t wait to share.

Similar to the organic nature of my first audit experience, Metalwest has adopted and built a very simple yet effective Quality Management System (QMS). The evolution of our QMS has changed the perception of “ISO”. Audits are no longer a dreaded task; they have become an opportunity for us to show-and-tell what Metalwest does best! It didn’t change overnight, but the evolution has successfully shown that over the past couple of years when our external auditor leaves, we are left with only opportunities that will make us better.

So what is ISO? What is a Quality Management System (QMS)? Let me break down how Metalwest has been able to align our QMS with the ISO fundamentals by taking a simple approach and letting the people drive the work.

What is the benefit to being ISO Certified?

This is the most frequently asked question. Our ISO certificate gives our customers evidence that Metalwest will be able to consistently provide them with quality products and services. Some customers require their suppliers to be ISO certified. And for those that don’t require ISO certification, most still require proof that we have all of the ISO required elements in place. The best way to meet this need is to send them our ISO Certificate instead of spending valuable resources participating in multiple customer-specific audits. It’s like being a part of the Better Business Bureau, it gives us some street cred’.

What exactly is ISO 9001:2015?

It’s an international standard that outlines elements of an effective Quality Management System. The ISO 9001:2015 standard is separated into 10 sections listed below.

Sections 1.0 – 4.0: Scope and Context

Who are we and what do we do? Instead of mirroring the ISO Standard itself changing words like “you shall” to “Metalwest does”, we got straight to the point with a one-page Quality Manual capturing exactly who we are and what we do.

Sections 5.0 – 6.0: Leadership and Planning

This section gets into how a company plans on getting work done while managing risk. This is where we showcase our “Playbook” which captures all of our metrics, trends, notes and is a fantastic tool that we use to communicate from our parent company and throughout our organization on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.

Section 7.0; Support

Do we have the resources we need to conduct business? Trained People, Standard Processes, Maintained Equipment and Quality Materials – these are the heartbeat of the Metalwest Quality Management System. We use our procedures to document how we manage these parts of our business. We store how-to-guides, keystrokes, helpful information, forms and reference documents all in one neat package. Then we deliver this package to our employees to provide them with the knowledge they need to do their job.

Section 8.0 – 10.0: Operations, Evaluation, and Improvement

These sections oversee the process controls we have in place to ensure a consistent quality product delivered to our customer. Just as important, when something goes wrong how do we manage through it? Metalwest uses a Corrective Action system to capture problems and identify the root cause. We utilize our Corrective Actions and Internal Audits to evaluate our processes with the goal of preventing defects from getting to our customers. Overall Metalwest is constantly evaluating its processes through audits, reviewing trends in performance and deciding what problems we want to solve and what opportunities we can capture and share.

Metalwest has taken a unique approach to ISO by capturing what we do best and aligning it with the ISO standard. We utilize tools in our systems like Corrective Actions to capture gaps and find ways to bridge those gaps by developing simple approaches that work organically with our people and processes. Most importantly, we avoid using the ISO standard to push work, instead we use it to define what our people need to be successful. This has given us an even stronger foundation to continuously improve our products and services.

Post by: Rachael Watanabe, quality systems engineer for Metalwest.
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