The latest revision, ISO 9001:2008 – which has just been published – has a greater focus on how companies meet customer needs, integrate those needs into the operation and evaluate customer feedback (see sidebar after article). It is the most extensive overhaul of the standard yet and requires top-level management leadership. The new updated standard is based on eight fundamental “best practices” that all organizations should have integrated into their business if they intend to keep up with their competition.Improved customer relations are only one of a number of benefits of adopting such a company-wide quality system. Following ISO 9001 improves communications both inside and outside the firm. It reduces rework, scrap and product returns. It builds better supplier relationships through improved communications and feedback. An ISO 9001 system helps to create a reliable system for documenting procedures, which helps set performance expectations, promote consistency and can reduce new employee training time.
The greatest obstacle to adopting an ISO 9001 quality system is understanding what compliance to the standard really means, and then implementing the requirements in a simple and easy-to-use system. Because the standard can be applied across all industries, a first step for most companies is deciding what parts of the standard apply and identifying where any system already in place needs to be improved or modified. Many companies get stuck trying to fit the standard to their situation rather than implementing the basic controls and checks/balances that ISO looks for. Here the experience of plastics professionals can help a moldmaker/molder by clarifying which requirements are needed, what areas are to be placed under document control, and the easiest methods to show evidence of quality related activities.