Everything You Need to Know About ISO Certification for Manufacturers

In manufacturing, quality control is vital to maintaining a proper and successful operation. When it fades, the products or goods tend to show it. This can, in turn, lose you clients and customers and taint the reputation of your company. It also affects those customers because the products you are supplying are not of the utmost build quality. Naturally, customer satisfaction is very important in manufacturing, too, on many levels.

To make matters worse, production or development processes are often automated. So when there are problems, they spread to hundreds — if not thousands — of product batches. Barring the cost of potential returns or replacements, this can cost you enormous sums of money in waste alone.

This highlights the need for a proper system that adheres to quality and reliability over the cost of development and its related elements. To be a powerhouse in manufacturing, you need to focus on quality and make it an ultimate priority.

That’s exactly where ISO 9001 and related standards come into play. ISO 9001: 2015 is the latest variation, which properly addresses supply chain management and development quality, precisely what you need for your operations.

What Is ISO Certification?

To keep it short and sweet, the International Organization for Standardization is an organization that publishes standards — 22,000 and counting to be exact — for services, goods and processes. The standards serve as benchmarks for quality and efficiency in many industries, most related to the modern supply chain and by proxy, manufacturing.

To become certified, you hire a third-party to come in and audit the processes, services and products within your organization. They measure the proper specs and discern whether or not you meet the criteria of ISO.

Upon certification, you earn a certificate from the ISO certifying agency which offers several benefits. You can use this certification during the contract bid phase to show your company adheres to ISO standards. Second, you can display ISO certification information on public channels to show customers and clients your products and services are of the utmost quality.

Are There Different ISO Standards?

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ISO 9001: 2015 is the latest and most common standard for any business, which applies in manufacturing as well.

Additionally, there are other standards such as:

  •   ISO 14000: environmental management
  •   ISO 13485: medical devices and equipment
  •   ISO/TS 29001: gas and oil industry
  •   ISO/IEC 90003: software engineering
  •   ISO 17582: government electoral organizations
  •   ISO 18091: local government processes

Generally, each group is referred to as a “family” and includes multiple specifications. The ISO 9000 family of standards, for example, includes ISO 9001 and 9000.

How Does ISO 9001 Apply to Manufacturing?

ISO expressly helps businesses and teams identify, document and optimize processes that are meant to address customer requirements and product quality. More importantly, it establishes a series of methods to resolve quality, cost and customer-related problems.

It covers everything from safety standards and environmentally-friendly manufacturing to functional specifications of the goods created.

Furthermore, because ISO is an international body with widespread reach, adopting their standards also helps local companies produce goods and services that meet the needs of customers from other countries. It stands to reason that customers in another country might be more focused on a particular element or feature, as opposed to customers back home in the United States. This also provides the benefit of improved national and international trade — simply because the goods are always up to par.

The most important aspect of the ISO standard is continuous improvement. Every company or business that honors the standard is — endlessly — working to optimize and improve their output to exceed customer expectations.

Embracing ISO standards for regular operations can translate to higher customer satisfaction, more efficient and productive processes, fewer errors overall, reduced operating and development costs and a more competitive edge — especially over companies that do not adhere to ISO standards.

ISO Honors Quality, for the Consumer

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Some fall into the trap of thinking that ISO doesn’t apply to their business or teams, or that it establishes more difficult standards for any operation. That is, they’re afraid they’ll be focused entirely on meeting ISO specifications — and passing audits — as opposed to their proper work and ops. That’s not the case at all. In fact, once you’re certified, it shows that you and your teams are highly effective and focused on quality over anything else.

The standards are essentially for customers because they streamline business processes so as to be more efficient. If you notice the opposite, it’s because your operations do not meet standards, or you’re not handling things properly. Documentation, for example, is one staple of the standard. You’re meant to document everything thoroughly, yes, but this does not mean you need to be producing insane amounts of files, documents and data related to the effort. It’s more about how efficiently you do this, which pushes quality over quantity.

Honestly, it’s better to kickstart the ISO certification process sooner rather than later. This ensures your current operations and processes meet the specifications, but also that any future strategies you put in place adhere to them as well.

Photo Credit: Clinton Aluminum