Global Fastener News

1994 FIN – ISO 9000 Is Coming

November 02
00:00 2011


June 1, 1994 FIN – The day is rapidly approaching that the fastener industry in the United States will have to meet ISO 9000 standards, speakers at spring fastener association conferences said.
ISO 9000 is the coming worldwide star in quality certification. And it is increasingly necessary for European trade.
Bill Sullivan, business development manager for ABS Quality Evaluations, Inc. of Houston, Texas, told the National Fastener Distributors Association spring meeting in Fort Lauderdale that ISO 9000 is “your ticket to Europe.”
Greg Westall, president of Arlington, Texas-based Innovative Quality Systems, told the National Industrial Fastener Show & Conference in Columbus attendees in May that ISO 9000 and other certification systems will be dictated by customers, but offer advantages to seller.
“ISO 9000 represents improvement and control of your operation. It enhances market advantages,” Westall said. “It defines and mandates work instructions and responsibilities. It provides training and adequate equipment and involves employees with over all operations of the company. It reduces the need for supplier audits.”
Other standards, such as Deutscher Institute fur Normung (DIN), the American National Standard (ANSI), ASTM (American Society for Testing & Materials), and the “new kid on the block”-the European Committee for Standards (CEN), have credibility in their markets, but are being supplanted by ISO.
ISO is a quality program rather than an inspection system. “A quality program includes an inspection system, however it is much more comprehensive and includes rules and procedures for the operation of the entire company,” Westall said.
“ISO 9000 can provide internal improvement, market positioning, supplier control and customer or regulatory requirements,” Sullivan said. ISO can reduce duplication of testing, Sullivan added. Otherwise there may need to be receiving inspection, source inspection and vendor inspection.
One of the first steps in becoming ISO certifies is choosing a registrar (inspector) of your quality systems, Sullivan said.
Sullivan suggested firms seeking a registrar should request the full list of their clients which registrars are required to provide. “Anybody can provide a few good references,” Sullivan noted.
“There are many certifiers of quality systems available and their qualifications are extremely varied,” Sullivan said. “Selecting a certifier is a critical decision to a company, particularly since the relationship is long-term.”
“The warm fuzzies are part of the decision,” Sullivan said. “This is a people business.”
Resistance to ISO and other certification programs center on distributor who see ISO as an unnecessary foreign program, who are comfortable with their existing standards and are reluctant to accept third-party certification.

ISO remains an “open market decision,” Sullivan pointed out. “Thus far is no government requirements for ISO 9000.”

Westall said the marketing department should take the lead in establishing quality requirements for the product.

Westall’s answer to the question of what needs to be documented for ISO 9000 quality systems is almost an “everything.” Westall said “all activities contribution to quality, both direct and indirect, should be identified and documented: Product purchases, receiving inspection records, outside processing records and their related inspection records, calibration and certification of inspection equipment, sales order, shipping records and inventory records.”

The list also includes a quality manual with drawings, specifications and blueprints, inspection instructions, test procedures, worker instructions, operating procedures; inspection reports, test data, quality and audit reports, etc.

Putting all that together can be expensive. Though actual accreditation may cost a mid-size distributor $5,000 to $8,000 for the first year, it may cost $50,000 in consulting to set up the initial quality program, Westall said.
Cost considerations also involve rework, repair, replacement and re-processing because of marketing and design deficiencies or unsatisfactory materials.
It usually takes at least four months to receive ISO certification and Sullivan said he has seen it take more than two years. He recommended distributor start the process as soon as possible. “Do this at your speed, not someone else’s,” he explained. “Don’t wait until your biggest customer comes to you and tells you have 18 months to be ISO certified.”
Firms interested in investigation ISO, but holding off on a commitment to the full prices can seek a “pre-assessment” which covers about 40% of what a full accreditation does. It also yields a good picture of what a company is going to have to do to win full accreditation, Sullivan noted.

Both said that ISO 9000 is inevitable and will actually improve a company.
“It used to be the quality assurance department was responsible for quality,” Westall said. “With ISO, management is involved at the highest levels.”
What management should be seeking in ISO 9000 is consistent quality, Westall summarized. “It is problem prevention vs. detection.”  ©1994/2011 Fastener Industry News For information on permission to reuse or reprint this article please e-mail:

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