The wire division has been certified for decades. Now the same "seal of quality" has also been achieved for the forming tools department. We talked to Marc Neubauer,Project manager quality assurance and certification, about how it works to bring such a complex project to success. There are also tips for companies planning something similar.
Congratulations on the successful certification! How nice that in addition to the wire division, the forming tools department has now also been certified with ISO 9001:2015. Why are there two different certifications?
Marc Neubauer: The answer here lies in the complexity of both areas. The forming tools division has grown over time and had to start operating processes itself that could possibly still be taken over by the wire plant at the beginning, such as sales or the procurement of raw materials. This development led to the fact that a unification of both areas in one system had to be ruled out.
How long did you work on becoming successfully certified?
Marc Neubauer: It took us about 1 year to implement the project. That was the schedule we set ourselves in advance. From the very beginning, we didn't want to simply create a system just to get the certificate, but we placed much more emphasis on creating something that would have a real long-term benefit for the forming tools sector.
How does such a certification work?
Marc Neubauer: The first step, and in my opinion one of the most important, was to involve all employees in the project. I am firmly convinced that this step is decisive for the whole project! The next step was to find a suitable certification body that met our needs and expectations. At the same time, we were already able to start identifying and describing the processes of the forming tools division and aligning them with the standard requirements of ISO 9001. Throughout the entire project, we repeatedly compared which requirements were placed on us and to what extent we fulfilled them. In this way, our QM system grew bit by bit. At a certain point, we decided to have the acceptance test carried out. In order to give all colleagues a feeling for the topic of the audit, we had a so-called pre-audit carried out in which, on the one hand, possible weak points were to be uncovered and, on the other hand, an initial getting-to-know-you could take place in a somewhat relaxed atmosphere. The pre-audit went more than satisfactorily for us, which meant that we could immediately start the audit marathon.
The initial certification was divided into three dates for us. First, a so-called document audit was carried out to check whether the documents required by ISO 9001 were available. Then, in two further appointments, the system was put through its paces. In the target-performance comparison, it was determined whether the described processes corresponded to reality. After this was also successfully completed, an audit report including all documents was handed over to the accredited inspection body and the certificate was applied for. In this last audit, it is decided whether a certificate can be granted or not. In our case, the certificate was approved.
Were there any challenges?
Marc Neubauer: One challenge is the interpretation of the requirements. For example, there can always be misunderstandings between the auditor and the company, as different views on compliance arise.
You passed the certification at the first attempt. What was the decisive factor for success?
Marc Neubauer: I think we made the right decisions in the various project phases, such as the pre-audit mentioned earlier. Weaknesses that were identified through this could be rectified directly. Another crucial decision was the introduction of software that controls our entire document management. This way, we did not have to deal with folder structures in which documents are shifted back and forth, but could concentrate on the actual creation of the system.
What advice do you have for other companies planning certification?
Marc Neubauer: Find a certification body that suits you. Here, you should not only pay attention to the price, but rather, what expectations does the company have and who can cover these best.
Another important point is that certification is not a one-man show! Only if all employees are involved in the topic can the project succeed. As a final appeal, I must once again refer to the supporting software.