Case Study: Flowcharts Document ISO Procedures

Managing quality processes at Ametek APT, makers of 150 electronic liquid-level sensing devises, automation controls and other instruments, is no easy task.

At Ametek APT each work procedure is detailed in a flowchart. This flowchart details the inspection of incoming materials. Graphic:

Managing quality processes at Ametek APT (Clauson, MI), makers of 150 electronic liquid-level sensing devises, automation controls and other instruments, is no easy task, especially when the production is spread across two plants and the company is undergoing the conversion to ISO 9001: 2000.

"I'm in charge of ensuring quality for all technical procedures at two different plants," says Mike Wedge, the company's quality manager. "Each plant has 68 employees, and every employee is responsible for following specific work procedures."

Wedge was working to update the company's current work procedures manual to comply with ISO 9001: 2000 regulations. "Some of the processes are complex, and we needed to make the procedures easier to understand," he says. "We decided that the best way to do this was by creating flowcharts."

Wedge had some experience with another flowcharting software package, but found the program difficult to use. He even tried creating flowcharts in Microsoft Word, but it was time-consuming. That is when he discovered SmartDraw from (San Diego) on the Internet and downloaded the free trial version.

"I saw from the get-go that SmartDraw was going to be easy to use," says Wedge. "I was convinced after using the trial."

Wedge says the user-interface is similar to other Windows programs he had been using. The software uses a "drag-and-drop" drawing approach that helped him create process flowcharts for everything from materials management to machine calibrations. "All I had to do was write out each process step-by-step, and then create the flowchart in SmartDraw," says Wedge. "Each flowchart took less than an hour to draw-even the complicated ones."

Thanks to SmartDraw, Ametek APT was on its way to achieving ISO 9001: 2000 certification. "The program has been incredible," says Wedge. "We can now depict our procedures using professional-looking flowcharts. I've already created more than 35 of the 85 flowcharts we need."

Wedge plans to continue using the software for updates, revisions and new procedures. "SmartDraw is simple to use, easy to learn, and provides quick results," says Wedge. "What more do you need?"

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