The importance of the ISO-9001 certification, and how to keep your auditor happy.


This is a two-part series on the importance of the ISO-9001 certification, and how to implement a quality management system with a focus on plant reliability to acquire and maintain this standard.

  • This part of the series focuses on details surrounding the new ISO-9001 update, the focus of which is customer satisfaction, and the two most significant challenges to the current manufacturing environment that threaten customer satisfaction and downtime.
  • The second part of the series focuses on the actual cost of downtime and how it affects all aspects of a company including
    customer satisfaction. The discussion will continue with how there is a shortage of skilled tradesmen who have a proficient understanding of troubleshooting, and the training options available to improve your plant’s reliability and quality management system.

The importance of certification in manufacturing

Certifications help manufacturers stay competitive and prove that they are meeting clients’ expectations by adhering to quality standards — one of the most important certifications in the manufacturing industry is the ISO-9001.

The ISO-9001 certificate is a standard that proves a company has a Quality Management System that ensures the timely delivery of quality products and services to customers. A business that is not ISO-9001 certified will find it hard to stay competitive and will not appear to meet the same quality standards as the competition.

To pass this certification with flying colors, we suggest manufacturers enhance their Quality Management System with an approach to plant reliability.

What’s the rush?

The ISO-9001 is internationally respected and many companies will not do business with manufacturers that are not certified. Amazon, Toyota, Kraft, and Coca-Cola all have implemented quality management systems that keep them up to the ISO-9001 standard. In other words, If your company does not have the ISO-9001 certification, you are losing business.

As of this September 2018, the previous standard ‘ISO-9000:2008’ will become obsolete. The ISO-9001:2015 version has taken its place, and has been updated to serve the customer better. Companies that want to meet the international standard of quality should start implementing a QMS (Quality Management System) plan that meets the new standard of ISO-9001:2015.

How to get ISO-9001 certified

The International Organization of Standardization has released the ISO-9001 to recognize companies for following a set of Quality Management principles that ensures customers get good quality products and services. The main objective of this standard is customer satisfaction.

In addition to there being a strong focus on meeting customer expectations — a focus in which on-time delivery is paramount — there is also an emphasis on risk management. To receive an ISO- 9001, your company must prove to an auditor that it has implemented a Quality Management System (QMS) that meets the ISO international standard.

In other words, if you want to receive and maintain an ISO-9001 certification, you must prove to an ISO auditor your company executes a QMS that meets the criteria of the ISO-9001 standard — which in turn leads to customer satisfaction.

More on the ISO-9001

How does plant reliability affect customer satisfaction?

Customer satisfaction, in this case, means delivering products to customers on time to the quality a business has promised.

What does this mean to an auditor?


When evaluating a manufacturer for an ISO certification, an auditor will be equating the reliability of a plant’s machinery and operation. An ISO auditor might evaluate the following:

  • Will the machinery work properly under the stress of this operation?
  • Is it likely the product will consistently be shipped out on time?
  • Are there actions being taken to ensure the promised order expectations?
  • Is this operation sustainable under these circumstances?
  • What strategies are in place if components fail?

These are all fair questions from an auditor that a Quality Management System will have to answer to.

Another potential practice ISO auditors will look for is if manufacturers execute “Just-in-time” delivery. The practice of JIT delivery needs to address the potential risk of equipment breakdown in an effective and quantifiable way (more on JIT delivery later).

An effective Risk Management System needs to be in place for infrastructure including all of the equipment needed to realize a product. Again, customer satisfaction is the end goal for this certification. Implementing a plan towards plant reliability will let an auditor know your company is serious about risk management and customer satisfaction.

A stress on risk management

The current ISO certification has a special focus on the health of infrastructure, and on risk management strategies. Why? If you guessed “customer satisfaction” you are correct.

If an organization is to prove to an ISO auditor that they are committed to customer satisfaction, they need to prove they are capable of delivering quality products to their customers on time. And a large threat to on-time delivery is downtime caused by defective machinery.

In other words, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and managers need strategies in place to fulfill orders on time — even when machinery breaks down. Procedures must be instigated to ensure machinery is in good health otherwise downtime is inevitable. Naturally, this leads to customer dissatisfaction.

An operation lacking adequate plant reliability leads to a failure in meeting delivery times, and customer expectations. A Quality Management System that lacks a solid foundation in plant reliability will likely fall short of the adequate proof necessary to successfully pass the certification.

The next two circumstances provide a clear case for the importance of plant reliability and how downtime can be detrimental to customer satisfaction. Both of these challenges will have to be overcome to acquire and maintain the ISO 9001.

Two large challenges for today’s manufacturers

If your company is moving towards high machinery utilization and “just in time delivery”, you had better have a strategy to deal with the risk of downtime.

The main goal of any business is to be as profitable as possible. Most companies have large overheads and financial goals. As a result, there are two industry practices that threaten the on-time shipment of quality products to clients. 

1. Plant Utilization

Efficiency is key to ensure a seamless production process in manufacturing.
  • Manufacturers cannot afford any downtime if they are to meet their financial goals and inventory demands.   
  • This means machinery, and employees are running twenty-four-seven.
  • Inevitably, this provides the type of stress on machinery that leads to malfunction.
  • Every precious hour a machine is out of production is detrimental.
  • Orders are not fulfilled and shipments are not made in time — leading to customers unsatisfied with the quality of the companies service.                       

2. Just-in-time Delivery 

Manufacturers know that when a product is locked up in inventory, it has value locked up with it.
  • If your product is sold at 100 dollars a unit, and you have 1,000 units sitting in inventory, your company has 100,000 dollars sitting in inventory it is unable to use.
  • Just-in-time delivery is a practice that ensures products are shipped out as soon as they are manufactured.
  • This economically is a smart practice, however, downtime from machinery shutting down is detrimental to the process.
  • With a consistent flow of orders being shipped just in time, downtime results in orders being late, and the quality of your service going down.

With high plan utilization and the practice of JIT delivery, the likelihood and cost of downtime becomes higher than ever. While high financial goals and large orders make downtime detrimental, there are solutions to these manufacturing trends that impress an ISO auditor and make certification easier to acquire.

This concludes the first segment of the series “Getting Your ISO-9001 Certification? Keep Plant Reliability in Mind. Stay tuned for our next segment which focuses on the true cost of downtime, the shortage of tradesmen in the industry, the importance of troubleshooting, the most effective means for training your staff, and how this approach to improving plant reliability will help acquire and maintain your ISO-9001 certification.

Get started with Simutech Multimedia’s award-winning electrical troubleshooting simulation system today!




Share This