Original Date: 06/02/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : ISO 9002 Certification
Sharretts was one of the first plating companies in the U.S. to become ISO 9002 certified. The company undertook the certification process as a way to improve its operations and enter the global market. Sharretts hired a full-time ISO coordinator to lead the company through the certification process. Although previously employed by a company who completed ISO certification, the newly-hired coordinator was provided with extensive additional training in ISO standards and auditing by Sharretts.
The ISO coordinator managed preparations for certification; interpreted ISO standards and requirements; and developed and formatted Sharretts’ documentation for certification. Most of the policies, procedures, manuals, and other required documentation had to be generated from scratch since it did not exist. This required a tremendous amount of time and effort from management staff and plant supervisors. Total preparation time for the certification audit required about 18 months.
After the company achieved certification, the full-time ISO coordinator left. Sharretts refilled the position with an employee from the administrative office who was in the process of transitioning to part time. Although lacking formal ISO training, the new coordinator easily manages the established documentation and required administrative tasks. Sharretts provides additional ISO training to the coordinator as needed. The part-time coordinator spends about eight hours a week to maintain the company’s certification. The company uses an outside firm to perform the required periodic audits. By using a part-time coordinator and an outside audit firm, Sharretts has saved more than $25,000 in annual salary costs for administrating and maintaining its ISO certification.
The ISO coordinator is converting all documentation from a WordPerfect format to a Microsoft Word format for better compatibility with Sharretts’ software systems. During this process, Sharretts is also updating and revising the documentation to make it more accurate and easier to use. The coordinator performs most of the update and revision work off-site through electronic data transfer capabilities.
The ISO preparation and certification process has had a transforming effect on all aspects of Sharretts’ operations and management. The certification has provided the company with well-documented procedures, effective ways to communicate, and a training system. One effective method initiated during the certification process was the Lot Traveler Tag Procedure system. Sharretts elected not to implement an expensive barcode system, but instead use a very effective manual system. Tags are color coded, one color for each week of the month. This allows for easy identification if the product is in the plant for longer than a week. If barcoding is added in the future, the tags could still be used with a barcode tag applied to them. The Lot Traveler Tag Procedure system has eliminated lost parts and materials within the plant.
Sharretts has also established an effective communications method known as the Immediate Operator Attention process. This process is frequently used when important information or changes (e.g., adjustments to chemical additions for the plating baths, modification of existing procedures) need to be brought to the attention of plant floor operating personnel. In these situations, new information is written down; hand-carried to the affected operator as well as everyone trained in the affected areas; verbally discussed to ensure understanding; signed by the operator to certify the information was received and understood; and then posted in the affected work areas. If the change is permanent, then the affected documentation must be updated in the ISO system within 30 days, and the posted information removed once the change is posted in all permanent ISO areas.
Sharretts believes that ISO certification has been well worth its implementation and maintenance costs. The major impact from certification has been a dramatic improvement in quality and consistency. Sharretts now uses consistent operating procedures to run the shop, and customized line manuals for each plating line. The fall-out rate for scrap and re-processed material has been reduced from nearly 50% to about 3%. Production capability has increased by more than 30%, and material costs have been reduced by nearly 45%. Effective management, planning, and scheduling have replaced crisis management as a way of doing business at Sharretts.
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