ISO 9001:2008 quality management standards certification is recognized worldwide and is developed to offer basic conceptual as well as structural adjustments that will help achieve consistency with customers as well as the preferred product quality. The certification sets out the criteria for quality management systems, based on quality management principles which include strong customer focusing, continued improvement of an organization, motivating top management as well as checking implications to them, and approach to processes. A number of textile industries have applied for ISO 9001 certification based on the standards, which they hope will drive them to quality management system within their organization.
Company Outline: Frexas embarks on delivering quality products that reach our customers’ expectations and on timely basis. The company has a philosophy which is designed to depict a belief in fault prevention thus creating a true first time environment. To achieve the aspirations of the philosophy, all employees within the organization are committed to constant quality improvement.
The company was founded in 2000 as a product line enterprise for casual wear and has currently grown to include official dresses. The company’s turnover by last year was US $50 million and a total of 410 employees (Harrington & Mathers, 1997). Although the company produces various products, its main product is worsted fabrics that it supplies to clothes sewing companies. The main markets for the company are USA, Caribbean, Europe and Far East.
Reasons for Seeking Certification: According to Mr. Johnson, the current quality assurance manager in Virginia plant, it was noted that quality was a much needed and fundamental aspect if the plant had to secure its activities to survive for a long period of time (Harrington & Mathers, 1997). The plant was in need to prepare an effective quality system, which became the motivational driver to achieve this ends. After a proper evaluation of the ISO 9001 certification, the plant was fully convinced that it was an efficient system that could boost product quality, business performances and cost controls (Hoyle, 2009).
Quality Systems Present before ISO 9001 Certification
The term quality was explained as testing, inspecting, re-work, meeting as well as specifications and tolerances. The quality system was based on emphasis on problem-solving approach, which in most cases was unstructured, personal and purpose oriented. There were no formal prepared procedures at the plant and working instructions remained highly inadequate. Further, quality element in relation to document control remained incomplete. This created an avenue where instructions were still to be used while they had already become outdated as they were hardly reviewed (Kanholm, 2000). Furthermore, the process was very slow although a gradual improvement was present. These activities led to the involvement of different managers and further creating a provision for the commencement of the ISO 9001 certification process. However, this is as some of the procedures remained in place in certain departments such as in the laboratories where scouring and dyeing was taking place.
Quality System after Implementation of ISO 9001
The entry of ISO 9001 brought an organizational cultural change with it. This happened through new policies where every employee had the responsibility for quality improvement. The responsibility was devolved to the lowest level of organization that existed. In the new quality management system, quality acquired a new definition where it was defined as meeting of the users’ needs and desires, and everyone was to provide total commitment to it. Moreover, restructuring was done where specifically the problem solving approach was overhauled and properly structured, thus allowing it to be more participatory, process focused as well as cross- functional.
Additionally, the company instituted a quality assurance department and was obliged to fulfill the following objectives. First, carry out inspection of the materials that are entering the factory. This was to ensure that only high quality raw materials were used in production process. Secondly, an outgoing inspection was to be conducted on all finished goods that were living the plant and destined to the market (Ketola & Roberts, 2001). This inspection of the outgoing goods was expected to allow a 100% confidence on all supplies made to the market. Third, the department was to take full charge over ISO 9001 implementation process. That is, to act in a supervisory role in ensuring that no individual or department is lagging behind. Finally, the department was to handle all the customer complaints that reached the office. It was argued that most customers made complain based on quality of the products that they purchase.
With the new quality department that had an enthusiastic team, there was an emergence of good command line and fully integrated tools of management that resulted to a faster process of acquiring the certification with no assistance from external consultants. This worked to the benefit of the employees as they saw the change they brought themselves as opposed to imposition by personnel from outside. The team set up seven-stage program that they hoped would help them achieve the certification much faster. The seven stages included: decision and commitment by the chief executive; training and education; quality manual preparations; procedures for operations and instructions for working environment; implementation processes; continuous corrective responsibility and conducting of internal audits; BSI pre-assessment and registration.
Training and Education
In 2005, Frexas directors were attracted to the policy of using quality doctrine to improve the productivity of the company while manufacturing high quality goods. This was in a quality course training conducted by Ben Williams and held in Brand Quality College involving four top managers. Ben made a strong emphasis on the need for quality standards, noting that they should be led by top-level managers to handle objectives set by management with a continuous improvement.
Subsequently, Frexas launched an initiative for quality control that they dabbed “Smiles of excellence.” This was to express their commitment to the success of quality management that later infused the company at every level (Hoyle, 2009). This was in line with the need to create an own employee training program that borrowed a leaf from the materials that Ben had provided, thus embedding the principles and practices of Frexas philosophy all through its operations. The managers began conducting quality courses within the company by inviting the directors who had come from the quality college.
During the second stage, quality assurance manager was dispatched to ISO 9001seminar which he or she attended and passed in the five-day lead assessor’s course. This enables the manager to instigate internal audit training in the company to allow for personnel quality control inside the company. The training involved a fifteen-hour in-house training that was designed to bring about development of necessary knowledge for one to become an effective and efficient internal auditor, as well as guide the delegates to have better understanding in preparation, conducting and reporting of audits. Moreover, it was in the company’s view that everybody must be responsible for the quality, hence distribution of reading materials on quality management to all employees.
Preparation of Quality Manuals, Procedures and Instructions
The first stem was analyzed and internalizes the ISO 9001standards to meet and coincide with the objectives of the company. Divisional manuals for quality were to be structured in a similar manner. These included those from quality and technical, dyeing, weaving, marking, design, finishing and, lastly, sales. After writing the manuals, the previously existing procedures as well as working instructions were concurrently changed thus providing a detailed description of jobs within a new system. Those procedures that were to change included the general procedure, the purchase and production procedure, yarn testing, fabric production, design and improvement and customer complains. The changing working instructions were batching, milling, wash off, breaching and dyeing, burling, shrink and relax, and warehouse.
However, for those procedures or instructions that did not exist, the respective managers and supervisors were tasked with drafting them, and later, they were edited by the quality assurance manager. Due to the fact that Frexas is a medium size business, quality systems are simple and visibly established.
All documents are to be prepared according to the standards and principles of ISO 9001. Firstly, the procedures involved are issued to a list of recipients in a register as shown in the holder list below.
|1||Master Quality Assurance Manager|
|2||Chief Executive Officer|
|6||Technical and Quality Assurance Director|
Secondly, only those registered as holders of procedure would receive new issues or updates, or both of them. A signature was to help in identification of controlled or uncontrolled procedures. Those copies that were destroyed were to be kept safe for future references. Finally, master manuals on procedures were to be in the custody of Quality Assurance Manager. In addition, to be deposited with him were approval forms, dates of all procedures and made changes (Franklin, 2006).
Internal audits were to be continuous to ensure an effective and efficient operation within the new quality system. Audit was treated as a very important tool as it is used to determine compliance as well as effectiveness. Audit was to gather facts from audit report on the system, in-house production, complains by customers, registered quality problems and non-conformance reports.
According to Quality Assurance Manager Mr. Johnson, the training by assessors advocated for more use of paperwork system. These highly raise the amount of paperwork as well as the tie consumed as more documentation was being done.
Little or no Commitment
Some managers felt that they did not require adding their input on the quality management. In fact, some considered this to be work outside their job description. However, being a company policy, such acts were never entertained by their seniors thus forcing them back to complying with the system.
First, any company seeking to join ISO certification should adhere to its requirements. This will enable easy working without overlooking any of the sides. Again, it will help the company to feel they still work for their goals and not those brought about by certification.
Secondly, ISO 9001 provided them with a basis to exercise a continued improvement. At Frexas, manufacturing was constantly improving and was associated with the presence of ISO 9001. The certification did not only satisfy the requirements made in a contract, but also makes provisions for a continued improvement. For example, the time taken to deliver dyed cloth reduced from 6-8 weeks to three weeks.
Impact of ISO 9001 On Frexas
Mr. Johnson indicates a number of benefits that the company has been able to derive from the adoption of the quality management system. Those benefits included reduced delivery time, a vibrant efficient system, well-motivated employees who desire a continued improvement, and improved customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Adoption of the ISO 9001 was not the end but the beginning of the long journey. As the company seeks to grow, it has established plans to create quality superstructures; this will help achieve marketability, publicity and a continued quality improvement. Any adjustments and improvements will also focus on improving effectiveness within the company.