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Getting Started with ISO 9001 Qualification

03 February, 2023

Consistency in quality control is necessary to meet international standards. Nicole Kangos of Snaptron covers the details for ISO 9001 certification for #USAMfgHour on Twitter.

When a business wants a piece of the globalization pie, there must be a set of quality standards in place. This is where ISO comes in. ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, which helps maintain consistency in quality in various industries throughout the world. There are more than 20,000 ISO standards, but during #USAMfgHour on Twitter, Nicole Kangos of Snaptron, a manufacturer of tactile metal dome switches, discusses the basics of ISO and why it matters in business today.

ISO in Manufacturing

Kangos opened the chat by asking the group of manufacturers and manufacturing champions: What is ISO certification? Why is it important?

"There are a bunch of different ISO certifications that cover a wide range of industries," said NJMEP.org. "Some contracts can only be bid on if a manufacturer is ISO certified. Additionally, an ISO certification also shows potential customers that a manufacturer is following best practices to ensure records are maintained properly and quality is a priority."

"I understand the importance of certifications in establishing standards and promoting credibility," said Felix Nater of Nater Associates. "I am a CSC (Certified Security Consultant) as awarded by the International Association of Professional Security Consultants."

"It is about ?standardization.' And those that do it seem stressed. Rolling on the floor laughing, that's all I know and what I remember," said Ruby Rusine of Social Success Marketing.

"It is a certification that shows the customers and businesses you work with that you operate at and maintain a high standard of quality in all aspects of what you do," said Radwell.

One of the biggest draws to getting ISO certified, Kangos said, is that many customers seek out suppliers who are ISO certified. "ISO certification certifies that your organization's management systems run according to international standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)," she said. "Certification is handled by a third-party registrar. Each certification has different standards and criteria. But in general, ISO certifications can signal to your customers that your organization is well-run, stable, and focused on quality."

According to ISO.org, the management system standards continue to grow. There are more than a million companies and organizations in 170 countries certified to ISO 9001. Kangos then asked the #USAMfgHour group if they have any ISO certifications or plan to in the future.

"We are working on it right now. Just completed a couple of requirements," said Portland Pattern.

"It has been in my long-term goals since I took over the company," said Obsidian Manufacturing. "We have so many things we are working on, but as we accomplish them, that ISO certification is getting closer to a reality!"

"Honestly, I don't think so for either question," said Drive Source International - Dynamatic. "I think our motor shops are ISO Certified, however."

"Yes, we're ISO certified. We just upgraded last Dec. to ISO 9001:2015," said Unex Manufacturing.

"We are not. I can organize some details and pitch a plan," said Advanced Superabrasives.

"We are not ISO certified as of yet, but we are working on it," said Chenango Valley Technologies. "We had it to be fast-tracked prior to COVID-19, but that changed everything. We are still moving forward, but business has picked up and has been put on a slower track."

"Yes, Radwell International's locations are all certified globally," said Radwell. "It opens doors to companies that only want to work with ISO certified companies, and it increases business for companies that are focused on qualities. Tons more benefits but those are great reasons to start."

"With many different management standards, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you," Kangos said. "A good place to start is with ISO 9001 Quality Management. This core standard focuses on developing processes to achieve profitability and high customer satisfaction."

Details of ISO

For some smaller companies, it can take a few months to complete an ISO 9001 implementation. Larger companies can take a year or more. What are some benefits of ISO certification?

"Quality control, customer satisfaction, and efficiency come to my mind immediately," said Obsidian. "I'm sure there is more. Credibility too!!"

"We see it as an opportunity to grow our business and showcase our quality work," said Portland Pattern.

"Some ISO cert benefits...accountability, procedures, quality systems, products, and services that conform to customer expectations and industry regulations from design to manufacturing to shipping, etc.," said Unex.

"Personally, it would help us reach markets and customers we haven't been able to reach before," said Advanced Superabrasives. "Since it has been slow with COVID, this would be a great idea to dive into."

"I second that emotion," said Nater. "I was once introduced as Felix Nater a Certified Security Consultant with the credibility we look for. I thought they were talking about somebody else. My point is that our certifications give us visibility. Remember that while I can't emphasize the importance of certification, Clients buy the services from someone that has trust and credibility. The other attractive certification I desire is the CMC (Certified Management Consultant) offered by the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC)."

"We see it as an opportunity to grow our business and showcase our quality work," said Portland Pattern.

There are some common benefits across all ISO standards, said Kangos. These include: 

  • Increased efficiency 
  • Reduced costs 
  • Decreased waste 
  • Increased profitability 
  • Improved customer satisfaction 
  • Reduced risks 
  • Improved customer acquisition and retention

 Any manufacturer can obtain an ISO certification and some resources can help, Kangos said.

Steps to obtain ISO certification."The ISO does not certify the organization itself. To get certified, you must work with a 3rd party registrar to audit your company and determine whether your management systems meet the ISO standards. Many orgs work with consultants to help them prepare," she said. 

The steps to ISO certification include planning, documentation, implementing new procedures, audit, and review, and then certification, which is valid for three years.

"Good visual communication plays an essential role in achieving ISO 9001 compliance," said Duralabel. "Change can be difficult. Labels and signs are used to supply needed information to ensure changes are understood, old habits are broken, and new procedures are followed."

"(Signs and labels are) such an important addition to the conversation," said NJMEP. "Communication is key in any company-wide initiative and ISO is no different. These communication tools are critical."

"In Wisconsin, the WMEP offers ISO certifications," said Dynamatic.

"There are many free guides and resources available online," said Kangos. "Some MEPs can even help guide you through the ISO certification process or can refer you to a consultant. Additional information can be found on the ISO standards website: http://iso.org."

What other ISO certifications should an organization consider?

"I didn't even know there were more than one!," said Dynamatic.

"There's risk management, energy, social responsibility ... Curious about the last one. Any insight on that?" Rusine asked.

"As someone who isn't familiar with ISO certification, it was very surprising to find that there are so many that range across a wide variety of industries," said Crescent Software. "I need to research what works best for our software company."

Here is a list of other ISO certifications to consider, depending on the industry:

  • ISO 45001 ? Occupational Health and Safety
  • ISO 14001 ? Environmental Management
  • ISO 50001 ? Energy Management
  • ISO/TS 16949 ? Quality Management for Automotive

About #USAMfgHour

Anyone who champions U.S. manufacturing can join in on a new conversation each week on Twitter using the hashtag #USAMfgHour. The chat starts at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time/2 p.m. Eastern. Share positive blog posts, helpful articles, news, important information, accomplishments, events, and more with other manufacturers and supporters from throughout the country.

Are you interested in hosting a #USAMfgHour chat? Contact organizers @CVTPlastics, @DCSCinc, and @SocialSMktg.