Visit almost any manufacturer’s website and the chances are you’ll soon find phrases such as “committed to total quality”, “quality assured” or “continuous improvement”.
We all know that the stakes are high in the oil, gas and power generation industries, so how can you tell if there’s any real substance behind these reassuring claims?
It’s easy for companies to add the latest management buzzwords to the website. Declaring to the world that they ‘strive for’ or ‘believe in’ total quality is one thing, but proving it is another matter.
If for example, you want to find a hot tapping machine manufacturer you can truly rely on, you’ll need to find some tangible evidence, ideally that’s been verified by an external organization.
A very good indicator that a company isn’t just paying lip service to quality is to check if they are accredited to ISO 9001. To achieve this, companies are audited independently and are required to prove they have an established and systematic approach to quality management. If this is the case then you can be confident they’re managing their business to ensure the customer’s needs are clearly understood, agreed and fulfilled.
Outcomes of the ISO 9001 audit process
Following an ISO9001 audit, a report is compiled listing any issues as "nonconformities", "observations", or "opportunities for improvement". If there are no major nonconformities, the certification body issues a certificate. If major nonconformities are uncovered, the company needs to present an improvement plan to the certification body showing how the problems will be resolved. Only when the certification body is satisfied that sufficient corrective action has been carried only then will it issue a certificate.
How long does accreditation last for?
An ISO 9001 certificate is not a ‘once-and-for-all’ award and is usually renewed once in every three years. There are no different grades of competence within ISO 9001: either a company is certified or it is not.
Need to take a closer look?
If accreditation once every 3 years isn’t enough to satisfy you, why not dig a little deeper? Positive signs to watch out for are internally published KPIs, dashboards and the quality ‘culture’ not just being exclusive to production, but also embedded across the whole organisation in areas such as senior management, sales and customer service.
Here at Mirage Machines, 3 examples quality initiatives currently in use are:
Pre use function checks (PUFC)
No matter how many times a product has been built previously, each individual product is put through its paces and is tested thoroughly before being signed off and despatched to the customer.
What happens if a product or component doesn’t meet the required specification? This is where the non-conformance report comes to the rescue. This should include what has been done to fix the issue and how it can be prevented from happening again.
The business philosophy of Kaizen originates from Japan and is founded on the principle of continuous improvement in business practices and personal efficiency. (Kai translates to English as Change and Zen as Good).
The management of Kaizen uses a simple 4 step process of PLAN, DO, CHECK and ACT
Ten principles of Kaizen we are currently introducing at Mirage are:
- Changing the face is to change nothing but facing the change is to change everything.
- Ten people moving forward one step all the time is better than if one person taking ten steps a time.
- Throw out fixed ideas about how to do things.
- Think of how to make the new ideas work, not excuse how it will not work.
- Do not invest too much money on improvements, solve problems with brain power instead.
- Don't seek perfection — a 50% improvement is OK.
- Correct mistakes the moment they're found.
- Problems are good in terms of brainstorming for improvement opportunity.
- Do not assume the potential causes; just ask WHY until we find out the root cause.
- Improvement has no destination.
The above principles are already shaping how we organise the shop floor, with the recent introduction of clearly defined assembly zones and the staff adopting the ‘5S working area disciplines of ‘Sort’, ‘Straighten’, ‘Shine’, ‘Standardize’ and ‘Sustain’.
We’ll be letting you know more on this in the near future, but in the meantime if you need help choosing the right product visit our new buyers guide web page to download one of our buyers guides.
If you would prefer to contact your nearest Mirage advisor for advice you can get in touch here.