Original Date: 02/09/1998
Revision Date: 04/22/2003
Information : ISO 9001
As with many U.S. manufacturing companies in the early 1990s, UE discovered that it had to become ISO certified in order to become a supplier for the European community. UE had modeled its quality system after U.S. standards such as MIL-I-45208 and MIL-STD-45662, but now needed some extensive changes for ISO certification. The company began by gathering information from professional journals and interviewing its customers to determine the best method of proceeding. Teams were established to address all elements of the ISO 9001 quality standard. Project leaders were sent off-site to obtain lead assessor training, and then returned to train the other team members.
UE’s procedures not only had to be updated to the current processes, but they had to be modeled after the ISO quality elements. The company accomplished this task by having operators document their processes. Internal audits were performed and corrective actions were taken. In 1992, UE selected a registrar and had a pre-assessment done. The assessors found no major findings, but did identify numerous items that required corrective action. To emphasize the urgency of achieving ISO certification, UE made it the number one priority in its 1994 Business Plan. Resources were then refocused and redeployed to review the company against the ISO elements. As a result, the company’s efforts led to ISO certification in December 1994.
UE gained much from going through the process to become compliant. The amount of money spent on discrepant products (as a percentage of sales) dropped from approximately 1.6% in 1994 to 0.73% in 1997. The number of returned goods authorizations were reduced from a little over 2,000 to less than 1,300. Supplier discrepancies also fell from almost 1,100 to a little over 400. Today, UE’s simpler quality system is designed for continuous process improvement, has produced major cost savings, and enables the company to successfully compete in a world market.
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