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According to Andy O'Neill, quality engineer for Rayloc, "We were already making an excellent product, but it's mainly because of customer requests that we be-came ISO certified." The company chose the ISO certification as opposed to QS-9000 because of its flexibility. While QS-9000 certification is very good for specific types of plants, it is less suitable for parts rebuilding operations" O'Neill says.
Rayloc's Memphis plant is the first in the division to be certified. O'Neill says that by the end of the second quarter next year, the company will have all its U.S. plants certified, as well as the division headquarters in Atlanta.
Implementing the standard first required setting up a system that management could support and the employees on the floor would accept, and then finding a good registrar. Rayloc chose AOQC Moody (Charlotte, NC) as its registrar. The relationship between Rayloc and AOQC Moody is very much a partnership arrangement.
Part of the reason AOQC Moody was chosen is because the company's auditor focused on key issues that Rayloc wanted to im-prove, rather than looking to find noncompliances for the sake of it. "I appreciated our auditor focusing on our key issues, such as scrap rates, instead of being picky," comments O'Neill.
Rayloc had released quality and manufacturing controls before using a topdown, "Do this because I said so," approach, which had met with some employee resistance. "One of our first challenges was to convince the employees that we weren't going to do it that way this time, and that we were going to listen to them and create a system that both met the standard and allowed them to do their jobs most efficiently," says O'Neill.
According to O'Neill, a lot of what was written down to prepare for certification were things the company was already doing. The areas Rayloc didn't have a structure for were management reviews, internal audits and documenting the corrective action system. As for the manufacturing task, there was a structure already in place with procedures that were being followed. The only difference is that the procedures weren't written down, so consistency has increased with the standard in place, O'Neill says.
"The best part of writing down the instructions is that everybody reads them pretty much the same, whereas if you go verbally, everybody is going to remember some things differently," says O'Neill.
He also says that finding the right registrar is important. "Talk to them a lot," he recommends. "Find somebody you can work with, a really good fit." Rayloc's auditor was very helpful. O'Neill says that even when the auditor was out of town, she would get back to him concerning any questions he had. "She was easy to talk to, and the plant floor employees found her to be very helpful," he says.
Rayloc solicited bids from about a half dozen registrars, and selected AOQC Moody in part because talks with the company's personnel went well, he says. O'Neill notes that a pre-assessment, an option offered by most registrars, is also important. "A good pre-assessment makes the audit go much more smoothly," he says.
The changes put in place to become ISO certified has helped Rayloc reduce internal scrap by at least 35%, and O'Neill is confident it will be reduced by more than 50% by the third quarter. Beside a reduction in scrap, machine downtime has been cut in half and morale among the employees has improved.
When the auditors came to Rayloc, the plant was able to show it had gotten a return from the investment. "If ISO evaporated tomorrow, this exercise has been worth it to us," remarks O'Neill. "Good people are more important than a good system, but if you set up a good system within the ISO structure, the plant runs better."